Sunday, August 9, 2009

Beaten : Halo 3 - No Really, I'm Playing Halo 3

So a few years back, I had an original XBox for awhile. I didn't play much on it - The Bard's Tale, Doom 3, Stubbs the Zombie, and The Warriors are about all I ever bought for it, other than the first Halo game. I had heard so much hype about how awesome it was, so I picked it up.

I thought it was a mediocre first-person shooter at best, nowhere near what the hype had made it out to be. It was fun, it was polished, but the big story behind it all felt entirely detached from the shooting. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when the hype swept me up once again, and I took the plunge and picked up Halo 3, the XBox 360's flagship title.

I read up on the story elements of Halo, to refresh my memory of the first game and to fill in the blanks on what happened in the second installment. Once again, the story seemed complex, and I hopped right into Halo 3's "Heroic" setting (the game described this setting as "how Halo was meant to be played", or something).

Once again, the story was there, unfolding between bullets, but it all seemed irrelevant. The solo campaign was short, but certainly challenging and dotted with moments of spectacle. Since Halo 3 is put on such a high pedestal by the gaming community, I'll be judging it more harshly than I normally would.

The story, as I've already mentioned, is a wacky, overwritten bag of sci-fi lore that has little impact on gameplay. There is really stupid ally AI at the few points in the game where there are allies. You get an alien sort-of sidekick, who at one point got stuck in a rock when jumping down from a ledge.

The game is a shooting gallery of the same enemies over and over. Some levels repeat, too, or more specifically, you backtrack through a part of a previously-cleared level at one point. The bodies and guns from your previous journey through that level are wiped by the same ninja janitors that sneak in and out of lesser games. In addition, old Master Chief doesn't manage to keep the guns he's holding onto between levels. Tsk, tsk.

So there's my harsh criticism of Halo 3. Let's face it, though - Halo 3 is a multiplayer game, and the solo campaign is just there to - um - finish the story, I guess. As a "noob" in the Halo 3 multiplayer world, I've been getting "pwned" by all sorts of pleasant people (mostly kids) from all over the world.

Multiplayer is Halo 3's bread and butter, and it's a complete package, with lots of maps and options to enjoy. I'm still, weeks later, just getting my feet wet with it all, not winning much, and slowly ranking up a little. I've resolved myself to get more multiplayer fun out of my XBox 360, and Halo 3 certainly has a large community of players whose sole purpose is to keep me humble as I progress, so it's a great place to play around.

Halo 3 has a forgettable single player game, but its real value comes from its vast multiplayer aspect. Another Halo game, ODST, arrives in September, and if I'm enjoying Halo 3 enough by then to warrant the purchase of that spinoff game, I may consider diving even deeper into the Halo universe. The story, from what I've heard so far about ODST, seems a little more compelling, and I'm sure it will expand the already vast array of things to do with the multiplayer game.

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