Op-Ed

Op-Ed
Halo 3 First Impressions

Russ Pitts | 25 Sep 2007 16:23
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And speaking of fire control, something subtle has changed between the last game and this one: It's almost impossible to tell if you've actually hit what you're firing at. One of the hallmarks of Halo and Halo 2's excellent design was the subtle feedback built into the interface. The aiming reticule turned red when you were in range of an enemy, and telltale flashes or pops signified a hit. In Halo 3 the reticule still changed color (and it's very pretty), but you kind of have to guess whether you've hit or not, or empty an entire weapon's worth of ammo at a thing until it dies, which is its own kind of fun, to be sure, but less snappy.

But here I go again. In digesting the experience of playing Halo 3 I keep finding myself stuck in a schizophrenic feedback loop, alternating between thinking it's the greatest game ever made and wishing it were more great.

Halo 3 is Halo through and through, and how much you enjoy it will depend almost entirely on how much you enjoyed Halo 1 and Halo 2. There's just no middle ground here. If you're not a Halo fan, if you just don't "get it," don't get it. You'll feel even more left out in the cold than you already do.

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But even if you're a Halo fan already, if you're not planning to play online with this game, I can't recommend buying it. There is some replayability built in, in terms of the fluidity of the combat experience (another Halo hallmark), but I can't help feeling like I've been there and done that. While it's true I can probably replay the game 10 times over and get a slightly different experience each time (like I did with the first two games, and as evidenced by the few battles I've had to replay due to tiredness-induced clumsiness or, shudder, bad level design), Halo 3 isn't so dramatically different from the first two to make me feel like I've really got my hands on something I'll want to tell my grandkids about.

Case in point, about halfway through, it starts to feel and play a lot like Halo 1. In fact, some levels seem fully ripped from that venerable game. Luckily they're the best levels, and all of the onscreen action is refined (marines will now stand out of the way when you have to flip the Warthog back over) but it all still feels very familiar - perhaps too familiar.

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