Halo 3 First Impressions

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Halo 3 First Impressions

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.

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Yeah I knew about the defective limited edition. Way to cheap out Microsoft( what do they care, they have your money now) I guess I am one of those people doesnt "get it" and I am glad so too. Probably because I have evolved and realized I dont have to shoot something to have fun. I just feel its a shame that unoriginal games like this sells like hotcakes, where truly artistic and fun games are usually left in the dust. Honestly We still have the same copy of Odin Sphere that we received at Gamestop when it was released.

That is such a good game
:[

Count me in for the not getting it crowd, too, Zera. I didn't like Tribes had freakin' jetpacks. Why would I like Tribes without jetpacks? I'll admit, the multiplayer is fun, but all multiplayer is fun. Combined with Russ' impressions, this has me solidly in the Team Fortress 2 camp.

I too received faulty discs, but I was able to get them swapped out at the store right away for new ones. (We're far from alone. XBox.com has announced a replacement program for owners of the Limited Edition set already.)

Haven't had a chance to play the game yet, so I won't comment on the campaign gameplay comments in the review. However, I have spoken with two long-time Bungie fans who had a chance to play reviewer copies earlier and they quite enjoyed the story. I guess it's a matter of taste; TITANIC left me cold despite all the gushing of friends and neighbours.

And if the online component is at all like the Beta but polished, I'm certain I won't be lamenting the purchase. (Nuclear Jenga in the Forge!)

-- Steve

Halo3, like Bioshock are just more in a long line of games that sit on the shelf after 12-36 hours of gameplay, just that they have more current graphics. Sad really.

Gone are the days of games that had replay-ability.

Now the only games that have any staying power are online massive multiplayer games such as Everquest, Warcraft, EVE, and Lord of the Rings.

I don't really think that 15 hours for a first playthrough is THAT shameful. It's shorter than I'd have liked, but plenty of games (looking at you, Heavenly Sword's') have short singleplayer without any of the other stuff that H3 has. It has, of course, multiplayer that increases its replay value exponentially, and with four-player co/op, singleplayer skull changes, and competitive scoring... even the singleplayer has a good amount of replay.

I'm two levels into the campaign and loving it so far. Playing it on Heroic, I don't see the issues with friendly AI being too powerful--in fact, they're rather useless at times.

hammarus:
Halo3, like Bioshock are just more in a long line of games that sit on the shelf after 12-36 hours of gameplay, just that they have more current graphics. Sad really.

Gone are the days of games that had replay-ability.

Yes, because Halo 3 certainly isn't boasting awesome multiplayer as one of its primary selling points or anything. Hell, like I said above, even the singleplayer has replayability.

CantFaketheFunk:

hammarus:
Halo3, like Bioshock are just more in a long line of games that sit on the shelf after 12-36 hours of gameplay, just that they have more current graphics. Sad really.

Gone are the days of games that had replay-ability.

Yes, because Halo 3 certainly isn't boasting awesome multiplayer as one of its primary selling points or anything. Hell, like I said above, even the singleplayer has replayability.

I'm sure you will be saying that in 6 months too. :p

I don't disagree with Funk. In fact, I was just thinking that I'd probably replay the game at least once. But I do think the lion's share of resources were devoted to ensuring Halo 3 was a multiplayer powerhouse, and the campaign got short changed a bit. I can't fault them for that, considering the overall direction of the series, but it does annoy me.

Russ Pitts:
I don't disagree with Funk. In fact, I was just thinking that I'd probably replay the game at least once. But I do think the lion's share of resources were devoted to ensuring Halo 3 was a multiplayer powerhouse, and the campaign got short changed a bit. I can't fault them for that, considering the overall direction of the series, but it does annoy me.

I don't get your response. Game replay equates to just one more run thru of the game? Sure you said "at least" but that implies to me that you are just as likely not to and if you do, a third run thru is out of the question. Yes, the game has multiplayer support, its nice but when 90%(just guessing here) of purchases are made by people who will play it solo, short changing them on content seems to be poor judgement. I think I would rather play a game like Tabula Rasa, which has a similar look and feel, but will likely have enough depth to "allow me" to play it again and again.

Russ, a few questions. I'm comparing this article to the one that you wrote for Bioshock, since that's the closest flavor of the minute to compete with Halo 3.

1) You mentioned in your review of Bioshock that it takes 20 hours to beat. I'm skeptical of that, since I did it in less than 10, and I've heard that 20 number thrown around everywhere. In my opinion, a good FPS takes around 10 hours to beat. In that regard, I find Bioshock satisfactory, and I think I'll find Halo 3 better. So, how again is 15-20 hours of single player embarrassingly short?

2) Bioshock was lauded for story, and yet it doesn't really seem to have one. Here are a few of my complaints: Silent Protagonist. Deus Ex Machina ending. The moral choice isn't actually a real moral choice. Almost zero NPCs to interact with. Really, the most interesting part of that story was the "Would you kindly" scene, and interacting with Sander Cohen, at least for me. My verdict is that Bioshock has a better than most but still lacking storyline.

On the other hand, you've got Halo, which for the first time in as long as I can remember presented an interesting hard sci-fi storyline (last I can think of is System Shock 2, and before that, more Bungie games). They didn't try to portray anything as magic, the time line was measured in thousands of years, and it dealt with precursors. I gotta say, hearing you say sci-fi pulp? Yeah, I can't really take that at face value, because I just don't buy that Halo 3 loses to Bioshock on this angle. I'll trade radio diaries for interesting NPCs and an actual storyline any day.

Does it really seem like Halo 3 had a sub-standard story line to you? I haven't even played the game yet, and I find that claim to be a little unbelievable.

hammarus:

Russ Pitts:
I don't disagree with Funk. In fact, I was just thinking that I'd probably replay the game at least once. But I do think the lion's share of resources were devoted to ensuring Halo 3 was a multiplayer powerhouse, and the campaign got short changed a bit. I can't fault them for that, considering the overall direction of the series, but it does annoy me.

I don't get your response. Game replay equates to just one more run thru of the game? Sure you said "at least" but that implies to me that you are just as likely not to and if you do, a third run thru is out of the question. Yes, the game has multiplayer support, its nice but when 90%(just guessing here) of purchases are made by people who will play it solo, short changing them on content seems to be poor judgement. I think I would rather play a game like Tabula Rasa, which has a similar look and feel, but will likely have enough depth to "allow me" to play it again and again.

Perhaps you should define what you mean by "replay". To me, a single replay is more than most games get.

hammarus:

CantFaketheFunk:

hammarus:
Gone are the days of games that had replay-ability.

Yes, because Halo 3 certainly isn't boasting awesome multiplayer as one of its primary selling points or anything. Hell, like I said above, even the singleplayer has replayability.

I'm sure you will be saying that in 6 months too. :p

I've been replaying Halo and Halo 2 every now and then since I got the titles; Halo (in 2003) and Halo 2 (2004) have quite a bit of replayability if you're the map exploring type like me and ramp up difficulty levels as you improve.

As for multiplayer replayability, Major Nelson's blog figures for Live usage say more than I can about Halo 2's multiplayer replayability. Sure, it's not reaching Starcraft's venerable level... but what else has?

Finished the campaign already, but don't like multiplayer or don't have Live? Try looking for easter eggs and "skulls" on the maps that unlock extras. Try alternate solutions; turn left instead of right and see where it gets you. Seek the hidden Terminals for the deeper story behind the one shown in plain sight. There's more to be seen in Halo than can be seen in a single run-through.

Of course, if you simply didn't like the gameplay then it doesn't matter... as I've said before, it's at least in part a matter of taste.

-- Steve

Alex Karls:
Does it really seem like Halo 3 had a sub-standard story line to you? I haven't even played the game yet, and I find that claim to be a little unbelievable.

How can we have a conversation about the game if you haven't played it? I will say this: It just may be possible that we have different demands of our "deep" stories.

As I said in the review, I think the elements of a good story are there, but they aren't utilized. The dialogue is hackneyed, the characters lack motivation and in fact rarely interact with each other at all and the story, while creative, isn't all that smart. "Hard" SF (Clarke, Baxter, Bear, etc) is based in real science. Halo is not based in real science in any conceivable way.

That said, calling it "pulp" isn't the same as calling it "shit." I like pulp, but I don't confuse it with high drama - or hard SF.

As for the length of Halo 3 vs. Bioshock, in my review of BioShock I called it a 20+ hour game. Which it is. In fact, I spent over 30 playing through it, but that was mainly because I lollygaged. Halo 3, on the other hand, took me about 15 - with lollygagging. Way too short for the conslusion to a 10-year trilogy, in my opinion.

I'm not sure where you get the idea a "good" FPS takes about 10 hours, but the best I can recall were all 20+ affairs. Tomb Raider Legend is the shortest I can recall from recent memory (sub 10) and I would have expected Halo 3 to measure up better than that, considering.

But like I said, please play it and get back to me so that we can have a reasoned debate.

I gotta say, hearing you say sci-fi pulp?

Halo doesn't ask you any questions. BioShock at least attempts to ask you some questions about the value of freedom and power. It may not have succeeded, but it did try.

BioShock is Blindsight (Peter Watts) or Accelerando (Charles Stross) to Halo's Ringworld (Larry Niven) or Foundation (Isaac Asimov). All four of those books are great, but they're very different beasts. For example, IIRC, Foundation -- like Halo -- makes no attempt to explain how faster-than-light travel works. It's a space opera, grand in scope and plotting but fairly short on hard science. Blindsight asks compelling questions about the nature and merit of consciousness, and virtually every element of the setting is supported in at least a limited way with actual science (as described in the fully referenced appendix). It's the hardest of hard SF. Accelerando isn't so rigorously scientific, but it too asks some extremely interesting questions about the possible future of the human race. Again, hard SF, though not as hard as Blindsight.

Halo's definitely not hard SF. There is no serious attempt to explain slipspace, the gravity hammer, energy weapons and shields, et cetera, within the context of the games. The game isn't asking any philosophical questions of the player. I think Halo is unabashedly pulp SF in the classic space opera style, and that is by no means a bad thing.

Edit: Beaten by Russ' more concise distinction between pulp and high drama / space opera and hard SF.

Say it with me. Exposition about technology does not equal hard sci-fi. Ringworld and Foundation would both qualify as hard sci-fi, albeit the soft sci-fi of the spectrum, since they deal less with technology (the Ringworld in Ringworld and a few gadgets come to mind) and more with psychology, societal development, and evolutionary concepts.

By their nature, the split between hard and soft in video game sci-fi is a much more generalized one. On the one hand, you have games like Advent Rising, which is a big old space operaey Star Warsian style drama. Very very soft, if deserving of a hardness rating at all. The Halo series, on the other hand, draws a lot of hard from the Halos themselves, the concept of the Flood as a plague species, and the technological disparity of the Covenant and Human forces. Again, not as hard as sci-fi, because it's a video game, but definitely what I'd call a hard sci-fi story.

As a side note, Bioshock disguises magic as genetics, and asks you to believe in a city built under the ocean. I can't say as I see any hardness there, although I'd buy it if we were going to talk about the devolution of the splicer's minds.

Bioshock does try to state one philosophical talking point, it just doesn't deliver much of anything with it. By comparison, Halo really only offers one element like that, and that's the idea of the singular messianic hero. It was Master Chief in Halo 1, the Arbiter in Halo 2, and if the Believe campaign is even close to right, it'll be Master Chief again in Halo 3.

We criticize games for sending you on lengthy fetch quests to advance to the next point in plot when I think we should be criticizing them for little more than lengthy fetch quest to begin with.

Alex Karls:
Stuff.

Sing with me:

Someone
is running his mouth
about a game
he hasn't played.
Yeah!

In any case, I disagree with your definition of hard SF. I consider hard SF to be fiction based on real science or plausible science extrapolated from real science. Star Trek, in other words, is not hard SF, no matter how hard Mike Okuda tried to explain Warp Drive. Armageddon, not hard SF, but Deep Impact, however, would qualify.

I see Halo as an Armageddon-type experience. The advanced technology in the Halo universe is magical and, as Ajar said, not explained or even rationalized in any way. It just is.

I can definitely see your point in that it's harder to draw a line in games, since in hard SF literature a lot of the "hard" comes in the form of narrative exposition, but I think a critical component of hard SF in any medium has to be plausibility. Much of Halo's tech is simply implausible. Not that it isn't cool, but it's just not based on "the real."

The Spartans themselves are enough to propel Halo into the pulp category. Again, "pulp" doesn't mean bad, but I'm not buying into the enhanced supersoldier bit, nor that a single man (albeit "scientifically" enhanced) would be able to do the things The Chief is written as doing. He's like Die Hard in space, FFS. A hard SF story would put a more believable protagonist into a more believable, albeit fantastical, story line.

hammarus:

Russ Pitts:
I don't disagree with Funk. In fact, I was just thinking that I'd probably replay the game at least once. But I do think the lion's share of resources were devoted to ensuring Halo 3 was a multiplayer powerhouse, and the campaign got short changed a bit. I can't fault them for that, considering the overall direction of the series, but it does annoy me.

I don't get your response. Game replay equates to just one more run thru of the game? Sure you said "at least" but that implies to me that you are just as likely not to and if you do, a third run thru is out of the question. Yes, the game has multiplayer support, its nice but when 90%(just guessing here) of purchases are made by people who will play it solo, short changing them on content seems to be poor judgement. I think I would rather play a game like Tabula Rasa, which has a similar look and feel, but will likely have enough depth to "allow me" to play it again and again.

i honestly don't think that 90% of purchases are for solo play purposes. in fact i'd wager the ratio is just the opposite. they made this game so multiplayer online heavy because of the sheer amount of people who play multiplayer online with their buddies. a good indicator of this is that they have 4 person online co-op campaign. to be honest, i never thought the story was very good. its just like every other futuristic human vs aliens game i've ever seen; this one just looks really nice and had microsoft backing it. so in conclusion, some one who buys it only for the solo game play is not being cheated by bungie and microsoft; they are being cheated by themselves for being that ignorant to think that the game is offering anything special for being all by yourself.

Russ Pitts:

Sing with me:

Someone
is running his mouth
about a game
he hasn't played.
Yeah!

First, ouch! Second, yep, you're totally right. And there's absolutely no chance that Halo 3 will deliver an experience consistent with what I got playing Halo 1, Halo 2, the Halo 3 Beta, or reading the game novels. And let's not forget how much I Love Bees.

Totally different.

/sarcasm

Moving on...

Russ Pitts:
In any case, I disagree with your definition of hard SF. I consider hard SF to be fiction based on real science or plausible science extrapolated from real science. Star Trek, in other words, is not hard SF, no matter how hard Mike Okuda tried to explain Warp Drive. Armageddon, not hard SF, but Deep Impact, however, would qualify.

...

The Spartans themselves are enough to propel Halo into the pulp category. Again, "pulp" doesn't mean bad, but I'm not buying into the enhanced supersoldier bit, nor that a single man (albeit "scientifically" enhanced) would be able to do the things The Chief is written as doing. He's like Die Hard in space, FFS. A hard SF story would put a more believable protagonist into a more believable, albeit fantastical, story line.

Given that I didn't define hard sci-fi...take that for what you will. Star Trek: TOS pays a lot of lip service to hard sci-fi, but ST as a show has always been more allegorical, something that isn't indicative of that genre. I still stand by my earlier examples.

We could consider Halo a soft sci-fi universe because it doesn't delve into engineering or the traditionally hard sciences, but then we'd be ignoring the vast wealth of hard sci-fi that focuses on things like alien biology or psychology. We could make consider that it needs to be plausible, to be related to what we know of science today, and with that we'd throw out every hard sci-fi story that dealt with absurdly theoretical technology. Not to mention that relying on plausibility means that your personal suspension of disbelief factors into the genre placement of a given story.

These are precisely the reasons why hard sci-fi is a difficult (and perhaps badly described) genre in the first place, but I'll stick by what I've said.

As for the super-soldier bit, you've left me scratching my head. With the exception of a few kinematics, the fact that the game is inherently part simulation means that with the rules provided by the game system itself, you're able to do what the Chief is able to do. And I can't quite tell if you're criticizing the fact that he's a super-soldier because such things will never exist, or because you just find him ridiculous.

Finally, a word about your pulp comments. I appreciate that you're trying to emphasize that pulp does not equal shit. However, you're still using the term in a derogatory way, and that's part of what I was criticizing. Also, you still haven't sold me that the Halo 3 story actually is pulp. I mean, pulp has wide boundaries and I know you aren't saying it's pulp just because you think it's pulp, but I've got my doubts. Buck Rogers is pulp. Ringworld isn't. I'd say that Halo has more to do with the latter than the former.

I've played for about 3 hours and on the third chapter now. Been playing it on Heroic solo, so far the game really doesn't feel like a single player game at all at this difficulty. I remember at least one room in the Holdout level were I had to kill over 20 brutes by myself in about 3 waves that caused to me lose a controller just glad that I have a back up.

So far the whole time I've been playing the "solo" campaign I've felt like I've been playing the co-op campaign without 3 buddies to help me in my genocide of the Covenant Brutes which is frustrating because I always feel out gunned and unable to do anything about it.

Russ Pitts:
I see Halo as an Armageddon-type experience.

You realise, of course, that this means war. *grin*

Though I certainly don't regard Halo as "Mission of Gravity" reincarnated, it's at least a decently fun story as far as I've gotten and its back story is huge. Armageddon was beyond even pulp and into "slurry" range; I was rooting for the asteroid before the second reel ended.

As to the game being too short and the dialog too shallow, I do wonder at what difficulty you played through. I've played three or so hours now myself and only gotten most of the way through the Jungle level... on Heroic. Then again, I am a slow and methodical player.

And if Master Chief's augmentic antics are beyond believeable for you, then you probably should've also been kicked out by "BioShock"'s multiply-resurrected hero... to spoil no spoilers, I'll have to put this obliquely, but put together the first name of "BioShock"'s protagonist with the name of his biological father and wonder if Tom Clancy should get a license fee.

-- Steve

Anton P. Nym:

Russ Pitts:
I see Halo as an Armageddon-type experience.

You realise, of course, that this means war. *grin*

As to the game being too short and the dialog too shallow, I do wonder at what difficulty you played through...

That first line made me remember one of the cheesiest of the cheesiest lines I have ever heard in a video game. It comes from the start of chapter 2 "Holdout" it went something like this...

Random soldier, "Commander the soldiers are asking for a rally point where should they go?"

Keyes' replies saying, "Tell them to go to war."

I swear right then some of my brain cells just went to sleep saying, wake us when we start reading Rand's book again, until then we are taking a break don't bother us.

So, I guess I'll go get on that now.

We could consider Halo a soft sci-fi universe because it doesn't delve into engineering or the traditionally hard sciences, but then we'd be ignoring the vast wealth of hard sci-fi that focuses on things like alien biology or psychology.

Halo doesn't delve into any of those things either. It doesn't particularly delve into any sciences, hard or soft. It makes no attempt to make any of its science-fictiony elements seem remotely plausible. So yes, Halo is clearly an example of soft SF. As soft SF, it doesn't need to do those things. And as pulp, it has no need for the kind of moral questions about freedom and power that BioShock asks you.

This is not a bad thing. There's nothing wrong with pulp. I'm playing and enjoying Halo 3 right now, just like I played the hell out of (and enjoyed) the similarly pulpy and even less story-laden Gears of War.

Lex Darko:
Random soldier, "Commander the soldiers are asking for a rally point where should they go?"

Keyes' replies saying, "Tell them to go to war."

Yeah that one killed a few of my favorite brain cells, too. I was like "um ... but aren't they ... already ... um ... at war ... ?" And how does that help? Dude needed information not a one-liner. Anyway, I digress.

Alex, I think you're misreading me. I am certainly not using the word pulp in a derogatory fashion. I like pulp. I also like Halo 3. And you.

As far as the super soldier thing, I'm not criticizing, just pointing out that as soon as we walk through that door we're in shaky territory as far as considering Halo 3 "hard" SF.

Also: see the opening cinematic for a clear example of over-the-top pulpiness (see, you really do need to play the game before you get all up in my grille about it). I'm not going to spoil anything, but I want you to remember the phrase "The gel layer absorbed the impact." Remember it, and get back to me ... ahem .. after you've played the game.

Anton P. Nym:
And if Master Chief's augmentic antics are beyond believeable for you, then you probably should've also been kicked out by "BioShock"'s multiply-resurrected hero...

I totally agree that there was a lot about BioShock that was hard to swallow. But nobody here called it hard SF. I mean, the whole premise of a city built under the ocean in the 1950s itself is a bit beyond the pale but it's fantasy. If you think I have a problem with Halo 3 because it's implausible, then you're misreading me. My point is that it would have to be plausible to consider it hard SF, which it isn't, so I don't.

Halo is a horribly simplistic FPS that should have never blown up, but it was easy for 12 year olds to play so parents fell in love with it, throwing out the money for their kids to yell racist names and internet speak over a microphone.

Enjoying Halo has to be up there with sticking vegetables in your rear, and as hard as 1st grade math.

imcaseyimhott:
Halo is a horribly simplistic FPS that should have never blown up, but it was easy for 12 year olds to play so parents fell in love with it, throwing out the money for their kids to yell racist names and internet speak over a microphone.

Enjoying Halo has to be up there with sticking vegetables in your rear, and as hard as 1st grade math.

Yeah, as someone who's seriously enjoyed FPS games since the days of Wolfenstein 3D, and who's finding Halo 3 (Heroic difficulty) to be both challenging and an absolute BLAST, I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this one.

imcaseyimhott:
Enjoying Halo has to be up there with sticking vegetables in your rear, and as hard as 1st grade math.

I'm sorry to hear of your learning disability, but it's no excuse for bringing your personal fetishes into a discussion on video games.

-- Steve

imcaseyimhott:
Halo is a horribly simplistic FPS that should have never blown up, but it was easy for 12 year olds to play so parents fell in love with it, throwing out the money for their kids to yell racist names and internet speak over a microphone.

Enjoying Halo has to be up there with sticking vegetables in your rear, and as hard as 1st grade math.

indeed i'm going to have to agree with the others on this one. while halo isn't very deep or inspired by any strech of the imagination, it is still a very enjoyable game series. i PARTIALLY agree with your statement on mothers using games as a parental device instead of interaction with the child. while this seems to be an unfortunately growing trend in america today, this is by no means an indicator of the quality of the games that are used by sub-par parents. i certainly find killing elites on heroic and legendary mode alot harder than finding the answer to 2+3. and i don't stick veggies up my arse either, but i throughly enjoy halo. so i guess you are tired of being made inferior by 12 year olds on xbox live. don't project your personal grievances with the players of a game onto the game itself. i do feel that the series is a bit overrated, but that doesn't mean they aren't fun.

I want to like Halo. Really, I do. It controls nicely, it's slow-paced enough that I can accomplish something in it, it's got great production values, it's just plain fun.

I just think that they made a serious design flaw when they decided that it would be acceptable to rely on the Internet for multiplayer. Couldn't they have at least tried to find a group of humans who aren't so flagrantly idiotic? I know such groups exist. I'm among one now. I understand they're adding the option to mute specific idiots or every idiot as you please, but that's only half a solution - you still have to find some other way to communicate to teammates without interrupting your beautiful, perfect symphony of eternal silence. (Well, and in my case there's one other issue - since every game seems to have this exact problem, the first one that fixes it is going to cost me fifty bucks a year in addition to its retail price.)

I'm well aware that it's asking too much for a single game development studio to find a solution to the fundamental, systemic rudeness and stupidity that permeates any sufficiently large group of hairless apes, and that it's nothing short of sheer na´vetÚ on my part to expect a business to attempt to deprive their target audience of their favored pastime. But I'm going to go on complaining about it anyway, in the hopes of contributing to a noise which the right ears hear and interpret to mean "You stand to make a lot of money if you can make an online game in which politeness is not an unrealistic expectation."

Russ Pitts:

As for the length of Halo 3 vs. Bioshock, in my review of BioShock I called it a 20+ hour game. Which it is. In fact, I spent over 30 playing through it, but that was mainly because I lollygaged. Halo 3, on the other hand, took me about 15 - with lollygagging. Way too short for the conslusion to a 10-year trilogy, in my opinion.

I'm not sure where you get the idea a "good" FPS takes about 10 hours, but the best I can recall were all 20+ affairs. Tomb Raider Legend is the shortest I can recall from recent memory (sub 10) and I would have expected Halo 3 to measure up better than that, considering.

But like I said, please play it and get back to me so that we can have a reasoned debate.

15 hours for a next gen game is "embarrassingly short?" Are you nuts or do you consider Oblivion an FPS and judge all games by that?

10-15 hours is bone standard for a shooter and has been for ages (Steam clocks my Bioshock time at 16.5 hours). It should be expected. Hell, I stopped playing Doom 3 because it was dragging on and I read it was a whopping 20 hours.

Many of the top AAA "next gen" games are only good for 7-8 hours! THAT is embarrassingly short. 15 hours for a shooter, no matter how hyped it is, is absolutely standard and shouldn't be held against it.

I get the feeling that in terms of story, Halo is the same story from Bungie's Marathon games, repeated. I would imagine the creators are really, really ready to think of something else now.

Russ Pitts:
Also: see the opening cinematic for a clear example of over-the-top pulpiness (see, you really do need to play the game before you get all up in my grille about it). I'm not going to spoil anything, but I want you to remember the phrase "The gel layer absorbed the impact." Remember it, and get back to me ... ahem .. after you've played the game.

Have you seen modern impact gels? Just in the last week, I've seen a Japanese man drop an egg from the top of a two story building only to have it land unbroken on a pad of inch thick impact gel, and watched a woman hit another woman on her gel-armored knee with a hammer (this was disappointing, she didn't swing nearly as hard as I would've liked).

But, then again, I know (or at least think I do) what you're referring to, and no, even then, no matter how good your impact gel is, it shouldn't save you from that.

Russ Pitts:
Also: see the opening cinematic for a clear example of over-the-top pulpiness (see, you really do need to play the game before you get all up in my grille about it). I'm not going to spoil anything, but I want you to remember the phrase "The gel layer absorbed the impact." Remember it, and get back to me ... ahem .. after you've played the game.

If it's what I'm thinking of, I think I've already seen it as it's part of the promotional media. IIRC, the same sort of thing, only with more padding, happened in Halo 2. And it makes me wonder something...you can deal with it if you're falling at terminal velocity. Could someone that size accelerate beyond terminal velocity when falling from space? Hmm....

Bongo Bill:
I want to like Halo. Really, I do. It controls nicely, it's slow-paced enough that I can accomplish something in it, it's got great production values, it's just plain fun.

I just think that they made a serious design flaw when they decided that it would be acceptable to rely on the Internet for multiplayer. Couldn't they have at least tried to find a group of humans who aren't so flagrantly idiotic? I know such groups exist. I'm among one now. I understand they're adding the option to mute specific idiots or every idiot as you please, but that's only half a solution - you still have to find some other way to communicate to teammates without interrupting your beautiful, perfect symphony of eternal silence. (Well, and in my case there's one other issue - since every game seems to have this exact problem, the first one that fixes it is going to cost me fifty bucks a year in addition to its retail price.)

I'm well aware that it's asking too much for a single game development studio to find a solution to the fundamental, systemic rudeness and stupidity that permeates any sufficiently large group of hairless apes, and that it's nothing short of sheer na´vetÚ on my part to expect a business to attempt to deprive their target audience of their favored pastime. But I'm going to go on complaining about it anyway, in the hopes of contributing to a noise which the right ears hear and interpret to mean "You stand to make a lot of money if you can make an online game in which politeness is not an unrealistic expectation."

Bongo... how else would you have suggested they do multiplayer if not the Internet? >_> there's always split-screen and system link if you'd rather not deal with XBL.

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