Halo 3 *probable spoilers*

I’m far from being the biggest Halo fan around, but as someone who played the original from day one, going in without any expectations beyond a “we shall see” attitude about the stellar advance reviews, I do have some special sentiment for the series. And - as one game the first, or a series taken in whole - Halo is second only to Azel and Panzer Dragoon as the most successful any games have been in making me care about a story and characters.

I believe I am with the majority in being disappointed with Halo 2 on the story side, but I was also at least as disappointed with the second campaign from a pure gameplay standpoint, which does not seem to be the consensus. I would love to hear from any forum members who have enjoyed the series about their take on the finish of this fight, whenever you may get the chance to play Halo 3.

Without getting into details, I will say it more or less redeems the series from where my feelings were after Halo 2. I can’t help being a little let down by how much shorter the campaign seems, by the series’ previous standards at least. But in the context of being the part of Halo 2 that got cut, it is perhaps respectable that Bungie didn’t try to pad the narrative with too much more stuff if they weren’t honestly feeling it.

Haven’t been in the right mindset to seriously brave the bloodbath on Live yet, so I wont comment on that other than that the new equipment seems sure to have a massive effect on the depth of tactics possible. And Forge, at the very very least, perfectly addresses one of the main failings of Halo 2… that everyone knows exactly where they need/want to go on every map. And with game updates already established on 360, even if any gamebreaking exploits made it through the Beta they can actually be fixed this time.

And yeah, the game looks absolutely jaw dropping sometimes, though in an understated way more in line with the original. Which makes me really happy, it’s easily the ‘cleanest’ looking game on XBOX 360. Ergonomically sound visuals don’t seem to be the norm for this eye-candy obsessed console generation, Halo 3 really has it’s priorities straight there.

Halo 3 is a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy - I expected no less from Bungie, and was not disappointed. Halo 3 more or less was what I expected it to be.

The plot was a bit predicable in places (I saw the forerunner-human twist coming from a light year away), but Halo never had the most unique story to begin with ? that was never what Halo was about. Bungie did a great job of wrapping it all up. I liked the way that Truth was partially right in the end - that Halo did indeed need to be activated in order to stop the Flood.

Perhaps the main issue that I had with Halo 3 was the fact that it just didn’t create that “wow” feeling in the same way that Halo 1 and 2 did. I think this was due to the fact that there wasn’t as much that was significantly new. Halo 2 had plenty of these moments, such as lunging at someone with energy sword, or hijacking a ghost, which made me feel glad to be playing a new Halo game. Halo 3 does have some of these moments, but it feels more like a polished - and more balanced - version of Halo 2, compared to the differences between the first two Halo games.

Multiplayer is excellent - if you want a game some time, Heretic, my Gamertag is Uriptical. Feel free to add me to your friends list (just let me know what your gamertag is so that I don’t accidently block you). My friends and I have had lots of fun with the Zombies mode (I think that’s what it’s called) where one player is the “zombie” and has to turn all the other players into zombies by killing them for the round to finish.

The ending leaves things open for a Halo 4. But, personally, I hope we don’t see a Halo 4 anytime soon, or - at least - not until the next Xbox comes out. Halo 3 is an excellent game, but there can only be so many Halo games before the formula starts to get a bit old. I, at least, hope that the next Halo takes the series in a fresh direction.

I share the un-wow’d feeling I think, for me it’s mostly a visual thing though. And I haven’t been able to quite understand why myself, it’d be hard to argue that Halo 3 isn’t the ‘best’ looking thing on 360 so far, and it’s totally Halo, just upgraded. I think that may be the problem, Halo was especially amazing because the combo of detail and draw distance, true bump-mapping and good anti-aliasing… individually they were novel enough, but taken together just completely unparalleled at the time. But all that’s commonplace now.

It also perhaps makes me appreciate how phenomenal Halo 2 was visually, although objectively the detail and overall image quality of 3 blows the older games out of the water, on a gut level I don’t think there was all that much room for improvement, for the cinemas in particular. But I think there’s a little of the same kind of issue as with PDO actually, Halo was a game that stumbled onto a style that fit the the tech level perfectly, level of detail was balanced with surreal color schemes and consistently right so the image suggests even more to your imagination at all times.

Anyway, I’m not even sure I fully ‘get’ the story, but I may be expecting too much from it. Why exactly did the Forerunners save specimens of the Flood on seemingly every one of the Halos… the very same mechanism that was built to stop it? And what’s with the massive artificial naturescapes that appear to be almost completely uninhabited? There may be explanations in all the literature outside the games, I dunno and I don’t think I care to know. If I start to think about it too much it’s almost weird how much it echoes issues in the Panzer Dragoon history, except I’m positive there’s no profit in trying to make it make sense. Kinda like Star Trek plots, just have to buy it or laugh at it, or usually both.

But as a saga it’s still so far above the norm for videogames, a purely classic Hero story, yet as such a novel interpretation. One very interesting quality it shares with Panzer Dragoon - specifically Azel, the game that made us fall in love with the story of PD anyway - is a foundation narrative of camaraderie between a male and female character that is necessarily platonic. It’s very effectively illustrated, it’s romantic by default, in that Cortana may be the only entity who can truly understand Master Chief. I wonder how much that has to do with why so many chicks seem to dig Halo…

And yeah I pretty much saw that Forerunner-Human connection coming before I even finished Halo, Guilty Spark 343 identifying Master Chief as “the Reclaimer” seemed pretty clear. Besides, to bring up Star Trek again, everyone knows that, somehow or another, Human Beings just have to be extra-special in the universe… otherwise we’d get exterminated by all those technologically superior space warlords lurking in every corner of the galaxy.

I think it’s amusing that we never actually see Audrey Tw… umm… I mean Gravemind again. I gather that Halo 2 lost a lot of people at that point, not just me. Of course I didn’t even make the connection that it was part of the Flood at the time, and that’s maybe the point, a giant talking Venus Flytrap showing up in my Halo simply derailed my suspension of disbelief, and suspended comprehension. Looking back over the whole story it’s cohesive enough, it’s always been really cheeseball with the narrative (in a good way). But the first game was more mysterious and austere (kind of like certain other games we know?) about it and, perhaps almost by accident, transcended itself.

Having got some time in with the Theater and Forge I’m quite in awe of the whole package now, and unlike Halo 2 I can see myself actually trying to get good (not that i’ll ever be good good) in PvP. So yeah It’d be awesome to play with you Solo, and anyone else from here, my gamertag is “Buck Entropy” and I’ll send off a request.