Microsoft Halo 3
- It's everything that we've all been hoping and waiting for. A flawless shooter in every way.
- Some of the graphics are occasionally ropey, slightly short single-player campaign.
Halo 3 is going to sell a gazillion copies regardless of what we say. It's therefore just as well that the game fully deserves its phenomenal sales -- one of the best shooters we have ever seen, period.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
Beauty. Eye. Beholder.
When the first peeks at Halo 3 were released, many people lamented that it looked like Halo 2 with a hi-def facelift. Well, those complaints will quickly be abolished once gamers get a look at what Bungie has done with the Xbox 360 hardware.
The first level opens in the lush jungles of Africa. Rays of light shine through the canopy with the best high-definition range (HDR) lighting that I've ever seen reflecting off each individual blade of foliage. The Arbiter is on the scene and his armor shines bright under the sunlight. The Brutes clad in their golden headdresses are also a sight to behold, majestic and regal yet deadly. The water effects in Halo 3 are also hyper-realistic, besting even the shimmering liquid found in the fantastic Bioshock. It reflects every object in the environment and reacts to every step and gunshot with realistic physics. Particle effects from plasma grenades and weapons are high-definition eye candy for graphic enthusiasts.
Granted, it doesn't quite surpass the current benchmark of Xbox 360 visuals, Gears of War, but Halo 3 definitely has its high points. Where it falters in the visual department, however, is in the clay-like, low-res character models and flat geometry. Little details are missing, like Sergeant Johnson's nostrils, for instance, and the Forerunner structures are blocky, like they were put together with Lego blocks. This is especially troubling because everything else is in the game exhibits that HD-luster.
The rest of the game is spot-on solid, though, minus a few level-design quirks with some of the later levels in the game. I won't go into any hard details -- to avoid spoiling any secrets for you -- but compared to the outdoor environments in Halo 3, the indoor structural levels are lacking in detail and large-scale battles.
But overall, Bungie really stepped it up when it came to Halo 3's level designs. For the most part, the repetitive and lengthy back tracking segments like the Library levels in Halo 1 are gone. The jungle of Sierra 117 twists and turns in elevation, UNSC hangars are packed with objects to add that life-like feel, and cruising Tsavo Highway is one of the best moments in the game.
Halo 3 also boasts the largest scale environments I've ever seen. Dilapidated Halo rings the size of enormous space stations litter the off-roads of New Mombasa. Banshees battle UNSC Hornets high in the sky, and fights against the looming four-legged Covenant battle cruiser known as the Scarab are Shadow of the Colossus epic.
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