Lord Krunk Reviews #11: Halo 3

It has been a very long time since I've written a review. A very long time since the second part of my review of the Halo trilogy made it onto the forums, and a long time since I claimed I'd have a Halo 3 review up next week. The reason? I just found myself not wanting to write this due to the fact that it's been done a million times before. However, my neat freak tendencies insist that I finish what I started, so I can get on to the good stuff (and have an excuse to play Legend of Dragoon again).

Lord Krunk Reviews #11: Halo 3

For those who have been living so far in their caves that they haven't heard about this multi-million dollar cash cow, Halo is a franchise developed by Bungie studios about the human race (America) fighting against heavily religious aliens and a parasitic monstrosity bent on eating everything in the galaxy. Shortly after the events of Halo 2, SPARTAN-117 (aka the Master Chief) is found by his human comrades after plummeting to Earth aboard a Covenant ship. After his return to the ranks, he is informed about a plot instigated by the Covenant leader in order to activate a device called 'The Ark', which will in turn wipe out all life in the galaxy. 117, coupled with The Arbiter, set out to foil Truth's plans and destroy the parasitic Flood once and for all.

Before its release, Halo 3 was glorified beyond measure with what is quite possibly one of the most awesome trailers I have laid eyes on. Naturally, I was very excited about this release, and in many cases it does deliver.
One of the most important improvements from the game's predecessors is easily the graphics. From the moment I booted this game up for the first time, through magnificent explosions and scenery to the end, I never ceased to be wowed by the drastic improvement that Bungie had made with regards to the game's stunning visuals. Even more impressive, however, was the effect this improvement had on the artistic quality of the game. Which, as I have expressed in my previous reviews, is one of the strongest points of the Halo trilogy.
Another major improvement to the trilogy has been the introduction of new weapons, vehicles and features that, while not as plentiful as it's predecessor, are substantial enough to maintain their usefulness in many situations. Improvements of note are the inclusion of the Spartan Laser and a new 'deployable items' system to aid you in combat.
The multiplayer function is also a commendable quality of the game, providing endless fun for players worldwide. As I do not own Xbox Live (I usually play through Splitscreen or System Link), I will not be elaborating on this as much as I should. However, I will say that a more diverse 'custom games' system can make for compelling and creative gameplay; better play than most multiplayer games can offer you.
Last, but certainly not least, is the game's soundtrack. When coupled with the art and shiny graphics of the game, Halo 3 has quite possibly one of the most well-structured atmospheres and aesthetics of any game that I've ever played. Suffice to say, nothing quite beats the feeling of awe that you get when you see the Ark for the first time. Kudos to O'Donnell and Salvatori; you guys don't get enough credit for your work.

Even with my praise for the game, it is still not without its problems.
My first issue is with the game's length. It's great that Bungie removed their infamous cut-and-paste sequences from the game, removing any repetitiveness that could have occurred. Sadly, rather than replace these sequences with unique content they merely left the final product as is; the result being a game that you could easily finish in one sitting on the Legendary difficulty. And trust me, I already did that.
Another issue is that of the story, which was certainly not as accommodating as its predecessors. At every twist and turn the game throws references to the books that to me, a gamer with no intention to touch the novels, seemed rather uninviting and unappealing. This became particularly bad with the random and disengaging seizure sequences (you know the ones) that throw odd and irrelevant quotes at you that not even a veteran like myself could make head or tail of.
One of my most prominent grievances, however, was the gameplay. For two games I was perfectly happy with the controls, which felt smooth and natural for me. And then, all of a sudden, they go ahead and change the controls on me! When I made the transition from 2 to 3, it took me ages to warm up to the controls and not chuck Power Drains at myself in an attempt to reload. There was also an issue with the way the game handled too; something about it just felt... wrong. Not in any way that I can describe properly though, and could be due to a myriad of causes, including the previously mentioned controls or the occasional and ever-so-slight in-game lag. And then Bungie has the nerve to bring back the trademark Assault Rifle. This would have been fine if they hadn't coupled it with a weak and unsatisfying rattle when firing the device.
My final qualm is not actually associated with the game itself, but with the hype that Halo 3 received prior to and during its release. Being an avid fan at the time, I would probably have enjoyed Halo 3 a whole lot more if it wasn't advertised so heavily as 'the greatest game ever,' even more so because the trailers had me convinced as well.

To clarify, yes, I was a Halo fanboy at one point. And yes, Halo 3 was the game that brought me to my senses. However, all things considered, it is still a good game. Halo 3 may not live up to the hype or even its prequels, but it is still a fun, beautiful and entertaining conclusion to the game that gave rise to the console FPS as a respectable genre.

Recommendation: Buy It if you have any intention to make use of your Xbox Live Gold membership, otherwise it's a Rental.

EDIT: 3 criticisms I missed, because I'm an idiot:

1) The story for Halo 3 was uninviting to the new player in the series; where Halo 2 gave enough information to catch up where the original left off, its sequel gives little to the player. All you're really sure of is that there's a blue person in your head telling you to burn things.

2) The story does not focus on the Covenant's POV and directs attention to the Master Chief, which was a real dick move on Bungie's part. Characters like Truth, Half-Jaw and The Arbiter had far more intriguing personalities, motives and backgrounds, and this is the main reason Halo 2 was so good.

3) Truth has been turned into a Saturday morning cartoon villain, which bugs me.

What happened to the days where it took a week for a review to hit page 2?

Anyway, shameless bump.

Nice review. Summed it up pretty well. As for the days where it took a week for a review to hit page 2, I think I ate those days by mistake. I was hungry and my Multi-Grain Cheerios were delicious.

Nice review, unbiased, points out the faults that are present (It look me a while with the controls too, I was not popular in 4 player co-op when I accidentally dropped a trip mine in the middle of where we all stood when I tried to reload my carbine) and yes I understand that the hype did reach standards impossible to live up to and as it goes the story is the weakest of the series so far as it had pretty much shown us most of the twists in Halo 2 but yeah I thought this was a good, honest review. A very fair review, pointing out the things done right as well.
Good on you.

P.S I guess we knew my post here was inevitable.

Seeing that Halo 3 was the first Halo I played I did not have any problems with the controlls.

Anyway, nice review. Unbiased and so. Keep it going.

The controls are especially bad for me since I switch between playing halo 2 with my friends and playing 3 for the legendary campaign. I might make the point that bungie seems to be trying to keep uping the stakes with more vehicle and flying sections. Also making the scarabs and phantoms destructable adds to the mayhem. Not that I'm complaining, blowing stuff up is always good.
Good review though.

lostclause:
The controls are especially bad for me since I switch between playing halo 2 with my friends and playing 3 for the legendary campaign. I might make the point that bungie seems to be trying to keep uping the stakes with more vehicle and flying sections. Also making the scarabs and phantoms destructable adds to the mayhem. Not that I'm complaining, blowing stuff up is always good.
Good review though.

Another thing for my Bungie wishlist: Halo: Dogfighter.

I think you can change the controls to original Halo 1 and 2 style. Also, there are plenty of Marines with accents from all other the world. The Australian marines are my favourite... although they seem rather shy when compared to the first two. I only ever really hear them when I have IWHBYD turned on and even then, rarely.

Personally I feel that Halo 3 made many improvements over Halo 2. The four player (online) Co-Op, the skulls, the tweaked multiplayer experience, the awesome new vehicles and weapons, the added customisation etc. Oh Man, I could do this all day. The only problem I had was the lack of decent maps (especially a good CTF map, Valhala does not count) at release. DLC has fixed this slightly but there is still much left to be desired. It sucks when you want to play a system link game of CTF on Avalanche but can't because one person doesn't have the maps. I've heard they all go free when ODST comes out but still, it is a pain. And even then the map packs don't compare to the Halo 2 map pack, which has some of the best maps ever made on it. Halo 2 had much better maps than Halo 3 although that's the only thing I think Halo 2 outperforms in. If only Halo 2 had forge.

Great Review though. Fair and balanced.

I agree, I was pretty disapointed by the game, being an ex halo fan. Still, I would say that the series makes its way into the top lets say 25 games of all time

Good review, it wasn't too much fanboyish or holobashing. Got all of the points down, there were praises and critiques, nice job!

I like the way the gold disk drive on your Xbox shines with golden goodness!OOooooo shiny!

I liked the review. I didn't have problems with the controls because it used similar controls to other 360 games. I played the first two games on a 360 so I was used to the controller, and other 360 FPS's use similar controls to Halo 3.
The story wasn't the best thing ever made, but it was still fun (until the last flood levels). The main reason I play this game is for the multiplayer, most notably the custom games. I can have endless fun with friends whether playing to win or playing for fun. That's why it has such a high replay value and so many people still play it today.

3 criticisms I missed, because I'm an idiot:

1) The story for Halo 3 was uninviting to the new player in the series; where Halo 2 gave enough information to catch up where the original left off, its sequel gives little to the player. All you're really sure of is that there's a blue person in your head telling you to burn things.

2) The story does not focus on the Covenant's POV and directs attention to the Master Chief, which was a real dick move on Bungie's part. Characters like Truth, Half-Jaw and The Arbiter had far more intriguing personalities, motives and backgrounds, and this is the main reason Halo 2 was so good.

3) Truth has been turned into a Saturday morning cartoon villain, which bugs me.

Fire Daemon:
Personally I feel that Halo 3 made many improvements over Halo 2. The four player (online) Co-Op, the skulls, the tweaked multiplayer experience, the awesome new vehicles and weapons, the added customisation etc. Oh Man, I could do this all day. The only problem I had was the lack of decent maps (especially a good CTF map, Valhala does not count) at release. DLC has fixed this slightly but there is still much left to be desired. It sucks when you want to play a system link game of CTF on Avalanche but can't because one person doesn't have the maps. I've heard they all go free when ODST comes out but still, it is a pain. And even then the map packs don't compare to the Halo 2 map pack, which has some of the best maps ever made on it. Halo 2 had much better maps than Halo 3 although that's the only thing I think Halo 2 outperforms in. If only Halo 2 had forge.

Amen to that. I still won't be happy until they release Headlong for Halo 3, as that is the map that my friends and I play exclusively. Sandtrap plays similarly, but it's just not the same.

not that long if they made it longer would have been much better

Good review. Got all the points, and it wasnt Mindless Ps3 fanboy Halo-bashing, nor was it blatant advertising.

anyway, I liked the campaign mode even though it was short, but the multiplayer beats even that of CoD4 IMO, not just the matchmaking, but the custom games. If you can get a well forged foundry or sandbox map, along with a good custom game mode, add on at least 6 extra players (And best over 12 players) and you have one of the most fun gaming experiences EVAH. You dont want the match to ever end, especially if its a creative and frantic game mode. Its just so hard for anyone to understand if you havent experienced it. the custom game mode, Fatboy on the map Chubby stadium V.1.2 is just Bliss with more than 4 people...

Great review, again ^^

I just wanted to get that out there, as its the funnest part of Halo 3 along with theatre mode...

Lord Krunk:

1) The story for Halo 3 was uninviting to the new player in the series; where Halo 2 gave enough information to catch up where the original left off, its sequel gives little to the player. All you're really sure of is that there's a blue person in your head telling you to burn things.

2) The story does not focus on the Covenant's POV and directs attention to the Master Chief, which was a real dick move on Bungie's part. Characters like Truth, Half-Jaw and The Arbiter had far more intriguing personalities, motives and backgrounds, and this is the main reason Halo 2 was so good.

3) Truth has been turned into a Saturday morning cartoon villain, which bugs me.

I actually think I have an answer for your criticisms.

1) The "core" fanbase asked for less backstory after Halo 2, and Bungie listened, its good that they listended to their fans, but they still could have put in something that explains things.

2) They did this because the points where you played as the Arbiter were regarded by the fans, and quite a few reviewers, as Halo 2's worst flaw. I have no idea why, but people hated it. Bungie, once again, listened to their fans. Again, its good that the developer cares so much about making their fans happy, and I can see why they did it, more people hated it than people who liked it, so majority rules. It makes sense, but nonetheless, it is dissapointing.

I liked it as well, and half-jaw is my favorite Halo character, I wish he was fleshed out more, in Halo 2 during the cutscene where they are riding the Phantom, right before they are dropped into the rebel base, it looked like they had a rough history. But that is all we saw, after that it was like they were best friends... He could have been fleshed out a lot more, its a shame.

3) I do not have an answer for this, and it also pisses me off. In Halo 2 he seemed like a badass mainiac cult leader, but as you said, he was basically turned into a Saturday Morning cartoon villain...

Hope that clears some things up, If I'm wrong at all someone please correct me.

Lord Krunk:

Truth has been turned into a Saturday morning cartoon villain, which bugs me.

Here is a point that I agree with entirely, his old voice actor was Michael Wincott, a man with a voice of pure malevolence that was, all-in-all, perfect for Truth.
In halo 3 he became a old preacher, which doesn't fit with who he is.

Irridium:
1) The "core" fanbase asked for less backstory after Halo 2, and Bungie listened, its good that they listended to their fans, but they still could have put in something that explains things.

2) They did this because the points where you played as the Arbiter were regarded by the fans, and quite a few reviewers, as Halo 2's worst flaw. I have no idea why, but people hated it. Bungie, once again, listened to their fans. Again, its good that the developer cares so much about making their fans happy, and I can see why they did it, more people hated it than people who liked it, so majority rules. It makes sense, but nonetheless, it is dissapointing.

I liked it as well, and half-jaw is my favorite Halo character, I wish he was fleshed out more, in Halo 2 during the cutscene where they are riding the Phantom, right before they are dropped into the rebel base, it looked like they had a rough history. But that is all we saw, after that it was like they were best friends... He could have been fleshed out a lot more, its a shame.

I doubt that it was actually the greater majority of the fanbase, but more the louder majority. More people I know preferred playing the Arbiter levels over the Master Chief ones, but I wouldn't call them rabid fanboys/girls.

I dunno, but I would love a game that focused entirely on the Covenant.

Knight Templar:

Lord Krunk:

Truth has been turned into a Saturday morning cartoon villain, which bugs me.

Here is a point that I agree with entirely, his old voice actor was Michael Wincott, a man with a voice of pure malevolence that was, all-in-all, perfect for Truth.

I thought his voice actor changed, but I wasn't too sure. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

 

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