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‘HALO’ finale floods fanbase

Jose’s Pros

As a fan of the previous two Halo games, I was ready for Halo 3 to be a game that I would enjoy and be amazed by. At the same time I knew to be careful and not expect something better than game developer Bungie would do. After playing Halo 3, I can say that it was a smart thing to do.

Although Halo 3 didn’t revolutionize the franchise with a new style, advancements were added to the game that kept up the fun tradition of the series.

The story for this game is much like many Hollywood movie trilogies. With the original, it introduced a great character to an accepting audience that was ready for fun. With the sequel, the characters and the plotline grew deeper, leaving us wanting more. Then, with the finale, a story we will all remember was over.

While showing the story, Halo 3 has relatively short cut scenes, using the game’s own graphics instead of full motion videos. It makes the game more fluid as the storyline weaves in and out of actual gameplay.

In terms of the controller, the game stayed true to its original settings. There were minor button changes that were confusing at first but became second nature after some practice. The button scheme works better for the newer Xbox 360 controller, utilizing the two top bumper buttons for duel wielding (holding two guns) and reloading individual hands instead of relying on one button for both.

The graphics are a step up from the previous games. Plasma grenades have an electric look to them and muzzle flashes from the guns are cleaner, while the screen display gives the illusion of being inside a helmet the entire time.

Some may feel that this isn’t enough of an upgrade for the debut of Halo on the Xbox 360, but that isn’t a fair request for fans to make.

It’s true that there are games out now which have details showing texture with blood and guts or beautifully cut scenes with amazing clarity, but Bungie can’t make huge changes. They began with a game that was shiny and colorful. It wouldn’t be practical to stray too far from the game’s known look and identity at this point.

The multiplayer aspect of Halo 3 is where the game reigns supreme. Bungie knew that allowing players to have options was the key to keeping their dominance in the multiplayer section.

New features for customizing a player’s look can seem overwhelming on their own. Choices go beyond the changing of colors and insignia. There are now different armor styles, helmets, shoulder pads and chest pieces to choose from, and only a few are immediately available.

The menus are easier to go through, with a more streamlined look. There are also options to veto the map when waiting to start a game. With social and ranked matches, a player can choose to practice or fight for superiority right away.

Two additions to the multiplayer option are the map editor and playback functions. These seem to have a potential that was barely tapped at the time.

Overall, Halo 3 completes the trilogy with many positive aspects that will keep any gamer interested. The story is completed, mechanics are comfortable and the multiplayer game is better than ever before.

Marlow’s Cons

It’s been a week of relentless head shots, beat downs and splatters. We’ve punished the Brutes and escaped The Flood, all for the sake of saving the universe. It has been a wild ride, but for some of us, the story of John 117 (aka the Master Chief) has come to a disappointing end. Halo 3 has been put on a pedestal as the epitome of first-person shooters, but does it really deserve all the praise and hype?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m a Halo fan to the bitter end, but I can’t get over my feeling of dissatisfaction with this last installment.

Seeing all the high-budget trailers with Master Chief’s movements and actions beautifully articulated – with entire scenes conscious of atmospheric conditions – and then having the actual gameplay not at the same caliber has been torture. Is it too much to ask a next-generation game to have the same graphics and gameplay as its hi-def trailers? I don’t think so. In one of the most popular Halo 3 trailers, Master Chief slams a Bubble Shield into the ground as he crouches and bends his body to brace for the impact of an inbound rocket. The in-game version is anything but dramatic. Master Chief just tosses the shield and it activates after plopping in front of him. Perfection lies in the details. The Halo 3 trailers and commercials are to Halo 3 what cut scenes are to Final Fantasy VII through IX.There have been games for the Xbox 360 that delivered what they promised. I remember the trailers for Gears of War being the same quality as the game’s actual gameplay. The developers paid great attention to the bump mapping and textures of the game’s environment. Halo 3, however, simply looks like a revamped edition of Halo 2.

Before all the die-hard Halo fans reading this get all huffy and puffy, remember that Halo branches over two gaming platforms. That being the case, I prepared myself for a dramatic evolution. I wanted significant improvement from old platform to new, such the transition made by Metal Gear Solid from the Sony Playstation to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty for the Sony Playstation 2.

If you’ve only made it through Halo 2, you’re not missing much in Halo 3 other than the storyline. Sure, there are a lot of new weapons, vehicles and customizable player options, but so what? The game is larger, but otherwise remains the same. Master Chief still runs around with guns and occasionally hijacks, drives and flies vehicles.

In Halo 2 there was an unforgettable James Bond-esque sequence in which Master Chief ejects into space holding onto a bomb three times his size and steers it directly into an enemy warship, then escapes with the wake of the explosion at his back. Surely in Halo 3 – on the powerful Xbox 360 – players should have control over such a stunt … but no. In Halo 3, players shoot guns, operate vehicles, rinse and repeat. Multiplayer via Xbox Live is another matter. If you were impressed with Halo 2 online, you’re sure to have tons of fun with multiplayer matches in Halo 3. As with the campaign, the multiplayer action remains the same as it was in Halo 2, but with the addition of a new ranking system, new game types, and various player-customizing options such as player gender and armor type.

Despite all my ranting, it is impossible to ignore the great things the Halo franchise has to offer, but overall, Bungie could have done more for the greatest hero the universe has ever known. Long live the Master Chief!