Halo 3 is without a doubt the most popular franchise in video games today. The main character is recognizable on anything, the story has fanboys buying up books to complete the saga, and the game has players wasting their lives away hours a day online. Yet, even through all of this hype and drama, Halo 3 fails to re-invent itself in enough ways to determine its rightful role as game of the year. The single player lacks originality and the multiplayer still needs tweaking, but there is still good fun if you enjoy the same old formula.
The story begins with Master Chief crash landing on a Covenant planet and unhappily finds the Arbiter alive. After some slightly tense moments of learning the Arbiter's impressions and values on the war between humans and Covenant, Chief and the Arbiter set out to find the Ark, a command center that can launch all remaining Halos at once. Naturally, the story might seem to be getting somewhere from the initial beginning, but this is where the good ends. The dialog throughout the rest of the game is cheesy, often resulting in "marine-like" tones that get way too repetitive even in the nature of the game. The secrets you have been waiting for to be revealed are often worth mentioning, and there are times when you will droll through the level hoping to find a sense of excitement in the otherwise boring mission objectives and scenarios.
The single player got refined for the better; or so says Bungie. While Halo 2 left us with boring single player missions, Halo 3 gives us...slightly better missions with annoying partners. Having the Arbiter as a second shooter might be cool, if he wasn't so stupid. Most of the time the Arbiter will stand out in the open firing widely at enemies while getting blasted in the meantime. His screams echo in fights all too often which is both laughably bad and yet unsatisfying when you are than left to fend off numerous enemies by yourself at once. If anything, the campaign is much more challenging, which is something the second game lacked. It's more fun to earn you way through the levels than to just follow a set path given to you. The levels all look well detailed and original, but et some, (the second to last level in particular) are just awfully bad and leave you to wonder just what the heck Bungie was thinking. When I am fighting a huge battle against Covenant forces, I don't expect to be stuck in a shelter holding off swarms of them for 30 minutes. That's not exactly my idea of fun.
Of course, you can hook up with three friends and enjoy the campaign in co-op mode. This is actually a very rewarding experience considering you can block out the repetitive campaign by chatting it up with friends who don't scream in obnoxious tones when they die. It is much more fun to advance through the campaign in co-op considering the nature of enemies and just how boring it is to begin with, but than again there is no explanation as to who the other two Covenant fighters are you take control of (at least I don't think there are), which makes it seem weird for Master Chief to be running along with Covenant fighters.
There are some nifty changes to the campaign which make it worthwhile to check out. For one, the weapons have been re-designed which help with balancing everything. They, more often than not you will be sniped in one shot by a grunt that seems to have perfect eyesight and can spot you miles away. When you snipe them from the relatively same distance...BOOM! Nothing happens. The new weapons also leave much to desired, and only really serve a purpose in multiplayer. Also the Spartan Laser is a really cool new weapon; I never felt the need to want to use it in single player at all.
For whatever reason, Halo 3 could have stood on its own for the multiplayer, which is still good; but anything from great. There are still plenty of problems that arise, such as balancing, hit detection, and glitches that pull all of the fun out of simple deathmatches. If anything, its simple a refined version of Halo 2's multiplayer, just with a shinier coat. Nothing new or original. More often than not I would find myself running at another player with dual shotguns, only to be taken down by....a needler. A needler?! OK, I know Bungie said they made it stronger, but to be killed in 3 seconds by the needler is really wrong. Its amazing how Bungie figured running at someone and unloading on them without dying only to be turned around and shot twice by the needler and die is a valuable strategy in multiplayer.
More often than not there would also be moments when players would meele me from across the screen with their gun and I wouldn't be able to hit them at close range. This will get irritating fast, considering how often it seemed to happen. There are also some glitches in the level that cause trappings, such as being stuck in walls, floors, or even being thrown out of the map by a grenade. It happened all too often, and its probably not just me that noticed it. Multiplayer, like the campaign is a lot more fun with actual friends as you can just relax and have a good time. However, if you are succumbed to ranked matches be prepared to be cursed out...a lot. It simply is not fun anymore when everyone reacts to Halo 3 as the next best thing, which it clearly is not.
There are so many reasons why everyone may disagree with my review, and so many reasons why some of you may agree. Truth be told, I encourage it. Halo 3 is a good game; but its not nearly as great as its made out to be. The campaign is unoriginal and the multiplayer faces plenty of issues that need addressing. If you can overlook those follies (as millions of people already have), than you will enjoy Halo 3 as being a fitting end to a wealthy trilogy.