Monday, January 21, 2008

Halo 3: Game Review

It's pretty lame to review a game when you're the last person on Earth to play it, but here are my thoughts anyway:

Great physics engine - Whether you're leaping onto a moving vehicle, driving a Warthog on ice, or flying a Hornet into a dogfight, your movements feel realistic. This engine is no doubt one of the main reasons that Halo 3 enjoys such a large multi-player following.

Awesome vehicles - Easily my favorite part of the game. If there's anything more satisfying (in a video game) than jumping onto a Wraith, beating the gunner to death, popping open the hatch then killing the can only be the ensuing carnage once you take control of this beast and start laying waste to everything around you. Gliding over the ground in a Ghost and crushing everything in your path with a Scorpion are a total blast. It's much easier to simply destroy enemy vehicles, but capturing them is well worth the extra time and effort.

Well-produced cutscenes - This is minor, and obviously applies to the solo game only, but it was refreshing to see cutscenes with solid voice-acting and a decent score to go along with the pretty graphics. It definitely added to the epic atmosphere of the solo game. And the checkpoints came after all cutscenes and dialog, which means you didn't have to repeat any nonsense when you died. I can't tell you how many times I had to grit my teeth through repetitive dialogue in Gears...

Cool toys - Considering that I completed the game without ever deploying a grav lift or a cloaking device, the toys aren't at all necessary, but they're fun to play around with anyway. I'm sure as I play more multi-player, I'll discover a bunch of clever uses for them.

There were a few things I didn't really care for, but the negatives were mostly minor and did not detract from my enjoyment of the game. Instead of having a few weapons, each with a distinct strength and weakness, Halo is littered with all kinds of weapons ranging from inane (assault rifle) to all-powerful (fuel rod cannon.) I prefer a smaller, balanced, and more strategic selection, but that's probably nitpicking. And I'd also trade the ability to jump for the duck-and-cover gameplay of Gears, which has a more 'realistic' (realistic for someone who's never been in combat, of course) feel. And finally, I didn't follow the back-story too much, probably because I didn't play the first two (and perhaps I didn't pay close enough attention at the beginning.) I wasn't sure why Cortana the hologram had feelings or why I should care so much about her. I didn't understand why the Prophet called me 'Heretic' or referred to me as the son of the Makers. But as I said, most of this stuff is minor, and I'm not just trying to sound cool by picking apart a game that's wildly successful.

Overall, the game started pretty slowly for me, but once I figured out you could capture enemy vehicles, I was hooked. I'll probably go back and try to win again on Legendary, and maybe even look for a skull or two (I found zero.) I've got a lot of room for improvement, as anyone who's had the misfortune of playing on my multi-player team can tell you.

In hockey news, my good team improved to 3-0 last night. Another goal and two more penalties for yours truly. I didn't deserve the penalties this time - I played a fairly clean game - but I had a couple 'reputation' calls go against me. One of these seasons I'll mellow out and go legit...but not yet.


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