Halo 3 Shines, Even by PC Standards
Bungie Studios' "Halo 3" came out Dec. 25, and instantly became a must-have game for the XBOX 360. "Halo 3" improves on the formula on many points, and finally matches the kind of shooters seen on the PC.
The original "Halo," like "Goldeneye" before it, provided an entertaining social outlet in the form of a well-designed multiplayer console shooter. However, repetitive game-play and an unoriginal plot plagued the single player campaign. The single player took a backseat to the multiplayer game, and this trend has continued.
In the single player campaign of "Halo 3," the player made constant progress through ever changing locals on their way to the final destination. This and the memorable set-piece battles dispersed throughout the campaign put an end to any feelings of repetitiveness and gave the game some epic action sequences that rival anything else on the market.
The story, however, was still lacking. The player again takes control of a poorly characterized super soldier cliché fighting against alien clichés. Master Chief is Samus Aran, the "Doom" guy the "Quake" guy the "Marathon" guy a Terran or any of a long lineage of space-marines.
The flood were essentially the "Starcraft" Zerg, right down to their species assimilating nature, hive-mind leader and even their sound effects. The Zerg themselves where derivative of the "Warhammer 40,000" Tyranids, which were derivative of "Alien", and they where all derivative of Robert A. Heinlein's "Starship Troopers."
Games like "Half-Life 2," "System Shock 2" and "Bioshock" are forcing the market to produce shooters with well-written plots, deep characters, and quality acting to match their gunplay. While Cortana, the Arbiter and Sgt. Johnson receive competent actors, and the plot is definitely complex, it is simply not as well written or emotionally engaging as other titles.
Halo has, since its original release, been the best deathmatch style game on any console. I qualify that statement because most PC gamers found "Halo" unimpressive. While console gamers had been limited to split-screen play before the previous generation of consoles, PC games were able to take advantage of online-play since 1993, resulting in several series including "Doom," "Quake" "Tribes" and "Unreal Tournament," all of which had done everything Halo had before and, arguably, better.
"Halo 3" changed this by increasing the scale and depth of the game-play in both the single-player and multiplayer. Bungie added large maps rivaling those of "Unreal Tournament 2004." They also balanced the weapons to near perfection. These improvements, amongst others, made "Halo 3" the best deathmatch style multiplayer game out.
It may not be the best multiplayer shooter on the market though, as class-based and tactical shooters have had very good releases recently. "Team Fortress 2", and the upcoming "Unreal Tournament 3" and "Call of Duty 4" are going to be tough competition.
Epic Games'" Unreal Tournament 3" appears to be the greatest threat to "Halo 3". Epic games had great success with "Gears of War" on the XBOX 360, and with "UT3" they seem to want to correct their previous mistakes on the console market. The PC's premier deathmatch-style game is due out on the 19th, and the PS3 and XBOX 360 versions are coming soon after. Look forward to my review of "UT3" to see how the two stack up.