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)
Halo 3 is extremely well paced from beginning to end, introducing new environments, weapons, and equipment at a steady rate. Another testament to Bungie's design chops: the game's intensity and downright awesomeness remains steady for almost the entire campaign. In total, it took me about seven hours to complete Halo 3 on the Heroic difficulty setting, and only 30 minutes of the total playing time felt stale.
Now you're probably saying, "Did you just say Halo 3 only lasts seven hours?" Yes, that's what I said, but there are three things to consider: first, I am way better at Halo than you are. Second, remember that I had two straight days of uninterrupted playtime at the official press review event. And finally, know that even with its short single-player campaign, Halo 3 offers up tremendous replay value thanks to some awesome multiplayer options.
Putting the "I" in Team
How's this for a list of things to do after you beat the single-player mode: There's competitive 4-player online coop mode, intense 16-player multiplayer, an 8-player gametype and level editor, the ability to save and watch films from both single and multiplayer with a free-roaming camera, and take your very own screenshots. Even more amazing, all of these features can be shared with your friends over Xbox Live.
Let me take you deeper into these features -- I'll start at the top with online co-op. Up to four players can join in the single-player campaign. One player controls Master Chief, another plays as the Arbiter, and the last two run around as red and blue Elites. You and your friends will probably fight over who gets to be who but really, it doesn't matter because all of the characters play exactly the same, an obvious concession made in the name of play balancing. The Arbiter can't use cloaking, and the Chief is in no way more badass than the Elites. The only difference is in the starting weaponry: Master Chief starts each mission with UNSC weapons while the Elites start with Covenant weapons.
Anything You Can Do...
Besides playing through the story-driven campaign in co-op, players can turn on team or competitive scoring options. Players get more points for things like scoring a head shot on a higher ranked enemy; at the end of each level players can view their stats and compare their performance against their friends, just like in multiplayer. Turning on skulls you've found will provide multipliers, as well as finishing within a certain time limit. There's an achievement for each level if you finish with 15,000 points or more. While blasting through the single-player mode with friends is a blast in and of itself, adding this layer of competition really fleshes out the experience; it also adds immense replay value as you and your friends will no doubt want to play through the missions again and again to try and one up each other's scores.
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