Low expectations justified

I remember the months leading up to the release of Halo 2 still clearly. The date of release was firmly entrenched in my mind. After playing the Halo 1 campaign for three years all I could think about was that date. To be frank I was sadly disappointed. Thankfully for the third installment I had low expectations and now I am very glad of that.

When it comes to Halo 3 I don’t really know how to explain my feelings about the campaign so first I will just explain the way I feel the story was constructed. I can see the creative team sitting at the round table at Bungie. Each member asked to brainstorm for ideas. One by one they recount what was good and what was bad about the last two games. What worked and what didn’t. New ideas are floated and a general feel of the content is established.

Let’s put in some scarabs, they were cool. It would be great if we could take down drop ships. New and unique vehicles are a must and so forth. My problem with this is that I really believe the story was negatively affected by Bungies willingness to try and appeal to YOU. Yes you, the Halo fanatic, you know who you are. Bungie did what they thought you wanted and most probably did. With each mission they added what you want. Not original content just reprocessed content and story elements that mimicked the first two games.

Now this isn’t all bad. After all it’s Halo 3. Bring back Guilty Spark. Throw the flood at us in greater numbers. Do all that and more. However in the end the game is to full of plot twists or rather villains that change sides and come and go as they please. I can see clearly why the casual or first time Halo players are so confused.

My second run through the campaign I played co-op with a friend who played both Halo 1 and 2. He almost gave up playing because of this. I almost gave up playing because of his questions and the lack of my ability to answer them. The cut scenes needed to be three times as long to explain the story in all honesty.

One thing I was looking forward to was the way the new AI affected game play. I saw the interviews with the Bungie team. All that talk about Brute behaviour. If one throws a grenade the other do etc. The only intelligence I saw were Grunts retreating when they were alone. The rest of the Covenant brings nothing new. Brutes might as well be entrenched in concrete. They move only when devoid of their armor. The encounters seem scripted with pockets of enemy scattered here and there. More often then not watching on as their Covenant brothers get killed from the safety of the next rock.

In the end the icing on the cake was the last mission titled Halo. The final Hog run was simply too much for me. I don’t know if I was more offended by the mimicking of the original or the falling tiles that looked like place holders. For a moment there I thought I accidentally got an unfinished French beta version of the game.

I've decided I need time to play more multiplayer and access the balances and features before judging anything but the campaign. Perhaps there I will find what I'm looking for or rather what I have lost in terms of fun from this series.

I’ve probably given you the impression that I didn’t like the game. I’m sorry if that’s the case. For you see I did enjoy it. Much more then Halo 2 and more then a lot of games I hand over hard earned cash for. Perhaps that’s my problem, I’m a harsh judge. I almost always expect more then I get. Even when I have little to no expectation.

I Need A Weapon
0
Your rating: None

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
narcogen's picture
narcogen
Offline
Joined: 05/26/1999
AI and Story

Thanks for putting your review out there. Thought I'd just make a couple of remarks.

On the AI, specifically Brute behavior, I've had somewhat different experiences and come to a different conclusion about their behaviors. Depending on my actions and terrain, some Brutes have been pretty aggressive-- attempting to flank me, get behind me, take an alternate route through an area and surprise me, or get close to me, drop some equipment (usually a power drainer) then run to a safe distance.

However, I think it's still endemic to games in general, and not just Halo 3 in specific, that units are spawned in certain areas and tend to stay in those areas; that most units are placed on the map for the specific purpose of reacting to the player, and are incapable of doing more than scripted actions or mirroring your actions back to you.

If you sit back and wait, that's what they'll do. If you draw them in they will follow you, but only to a point. You may say the the unwillingness to hunt you down even when they have superior numbers is a fault, but I'd say it's a necessity given that we're talking about a game and not reality. If there was nowhere you could run to to rest, rearm, and recharge your shields, and you were still outnumbered, the game wouldn't be any fun. To make this seem more realistic, the designers put features into map areas to explain why units hang around-- usually things to guard. Infantry are around to make sure you don't just walk up to a tank and board it. They're there around stationary guns so you don't just walk up and destroy them. They block your access to switches and key installations because they've been ordered to.

Brutes, acting the way you describe, are essentially repeating the Elite AI behavior from Halo 1. They stay in cover, fire when they can, and then go suicide when their shields are gone. But that's not all they do.

There is, of course, a way to play Halo against fearsome and relentless opponents who are clever and unpredictable... and that's the multiplayer mode Smiling

Regarding the story... it's hard for me to comment, as someone who has spent so much time over the years thinking and writing about Halo's story. It all does make sense to me, and the parts that don't aren't supposed to be obvious. However, that's probably because I fit into the "halo fanatic" category, at least with respect to story.

All I can say is that Bungie does not have a history of spoonfeeding story. If people want to ignore it and just shoot things, they're welcome. However, puzzling out what's going on is not a simple matter of just not pressing A when the next cutscene plays. Cutscenes in Halo 3 are shorter, like Halo 1's. As a side note, try to see the cutscenes with commentary that's on the Essentials disc; it's interesting to see how, while Halo 1's cinematics are great and tell a tight story effectively even with all the combat sequences removed, Halo 2's tells a rather rich story, and it hangs together better as a CG movie than the game does as a game. However, it was a common complaint that Halo 2's cinematics were too long. Rather than people absorbing them in, the longer scenes made it more likely that people would skip them to get to the gameplay, and thus have less of an idea of what is going on than if they had seen a short cutscene.

Halo 3's cutscenes and interactive sequences do the minimum necessary; they get you in and out of levels. I think it is quite intentional that they are shorter.

As for the switching alliances, this only takes place once in Halo 3; it's remarked on by the characters in the scenes, and frankly it's something that is quite predictable given the end of Halo 2:

[spoiler]Gravemind solicited the aid of both the Arbiter and the Master Chief in Halo 2. Given that at the start of each game, the goal for both Gravemind and the Chief/Arbiter is to stop the prophet-led Covenant from firing the rings, a temporary alliance makes sense to both sides. So, just as you helped Gravemind by seeking out Delta Halo's index and stopping Delta Halo from firing, now he helps you reach Truth and stop him from activating the array.

The real question, of course, was-- what happens next? I often wondered if Halo 3 was going to have a twist where you join sides with the Flood permanently-- where you decide that giving in to them is marginally better than killing every living thing in the galaxy. That's not the way Bungie went with that-- but an earlier character in the Haloverse did make exactly that decision. For that story, read the seven Terminals on Legendary difficulty-- the contents are different than on Heroic or below.[/spoiler]

Of course, everyone goes off to play multiplayer and forgets about the campaign, but if you really did like Halo 1's story, don't give up on Halo 3 just yet. There's a very interesting story being told there that is beyond the Chief and Arbiter chewing bubble gum, kicking ass, and running out of bubblegum. You do have to dig a bit to find it, though-- and that's purely intentional.


Rampant for over se7en years.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Re: Low expectations justified

I first thought that the "tiles" in the last mission were pretty crappy, but then after seeing the great graphics that were in the other missions i couldn't come to the conclusion that bungie was being lazy. I would say the "tiles" were there because it was an unfinished halo. It was probably the foundation of halo-below all the land and structures-and nothing was there since everything was still being built.

Anton P Nym's picture
Anton P Nym
Offline
Joined: 08/06/2004
You can't go home again.

You can't "revirginise" yourself... and Halo 3 can't, either. Halo 3 can't replicate the Halo 1 experience simply because it is the third, and not the first. We have preconceptions, understandings, and knowledge now of the story and mechanics we didn't back when there was only one Halo.

So expecting Halo 3 to be Halo 1 again is dooming the title to inevitable failure.

-- Steve wouldn't have minded more time in the cutscenes to develop the story further, but is cognisant that there are those who just want to get on with the killing bits.

VVV's picture
VVV
Offline
Joined: 02/18/2007
Re: You can't go home again.

Thanks for the interesting comments Narc. I will ponder much of it in relation to the plot on my next run through which I'm about to begin. I guess I'm not giving up yet.

As for the multiplayer side it's like this. I've already played the campaign through twice and am about to go for a third. This will be two more times then Halo 2 and dare I say it I won't end there. It's that much better then Halo 2. In comparison I am already finding the multiplayer side boring. There's no other word for it. You'll have to wait a week and I'll post another blog on that after a little more play.

Anton P Nym wrote:

You can't "revirginise" yourself... and Halo 3 can't, either. Halo 3 can't replicate the Halo 1 experience simply because it is the third, and not the first. We have preconceptions, understandings, and knowledge now of the story and mechanics we didn't back when there was only one Halo.

So expecting Halo 3 to be Halo 1 again is dooming the title to inevitable failure.

-- Steve wouldn't have minded more time in the cutscenes to develop the story further, but is cognisant that there are those who just want to get on with the killing bits.

Steve, the only references I made to Halo 1 was that I found much of the combat flow and level types to mimick it in a negative way. I'm not looking for Halo 1 again, quite the contrary. I'm as aware as anyone about Halo 1 campaign faults. Repeated corridors and structures, enemy AI etc. However what it did have was a feeling (yes now I say it) that Halo 2 and 3 simply have tried to recreate but haven't. It may be that I'm no longer a "virgin" but I put it down to the complete "journey" being better in many areas then Halo 2 and 3.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Re: Low expectations justified

In light of the recent event of Halo 3 falling from grace and already no longer being the number 1 played game over Xbox Live, I think VVV hit the nail on the head. Even with 8+ million sold, a game with only 3 million sold is played more. Halo 3 is not good. The maps suck, the weapons suck, the melee sucks, and the servers suck. I'm tired of my shots not counting. I'm tired of my stickies going through an enemy while their stickys miss me and STILL stick me. It's so inconsistent and not fun.

narcogen's picture
narcogen
Offline
Joined: 05/26/1999
Servers

Anonymous wrote:

In light of the recent event of Halo 3 falling from grace and already no longer being the number 1 played game over Xbox Live, I think VVV hit the nail on the head. Even with 8+ million sold, a game with only 3 million sold is played more. Halo 3 is not good. The maps suck, the weapons suck, the melee sucks, and the servers suck. I'm tired of my shots not counting. I'm tired of my stickies going through an enemy while their stickys miss me and STILL stick me. It's so inconsistent and not fun.

Just because this seems to keep coming up lately:

There are no "servers" on Xbox Live. Not for Halo 3. Not for COD4. Not for any game on the Xbox Live service.

XBL games are entirely peer to peer. One player is designated as "host" and his Xbox console is the server. The glitches you describe are caused by latency, by host advantage (which is just another way of saying "latency") and the game's netcode.


Rampant for over se7en years.

Syndicate content