You know Captain Spark. The guy who records all those audio snippets from Halo games? Yeah, that's him. He's weighed in now with a review of Halo 3's campaign. He starts by getting two beefs of his chest (the over-aggressive Arbiter and the so-called "Cortana Moments") before getting to what he likes. Well worth a read, go check it out.
More or less at random I happened upon The First Hour blog, which reviews only the first hour of a video game. Game #12, reviewed back in September 2007 (just in time for Halo 3 to come out) was the original Halo.
As an extension to that blog, Beyond The First Hour reviews games after they are finished, and that blog features a review of Halo 3. No love for Halo 2 apparently, but that's par for the course now, isn't it?
Ask many Bungie fans what they think makes their favorite games different than others, and you might get an answer like "addictive multiplayer". From a perhaps smaller, but no less dedicated or vocal group, you might get "the story" as an answer.
Halo 3 is a lot of fun to play, and the multiplayer will likely go down in history as a truly great technical masterpiece.
But the single-player mode was a confusing muddle from a plot perspective. Every time this complaint pops up, legions of fans rush to point out this or that video explanation of the plot on YouTube, or they suggest you go read the Halo novels or scour Bungie's Web site for plot clues.
The game should be a self-contained and comprehensible artistic work. The fact that a game with Halo 3's development budget (which it's safe to say was in the tens of millions of dollars) ended up with such a cut-rate story shows there's still a limited pool of writing talent in the industry.
This probably deserves (and will likely get) a longer and more detailed response, but I'd say that the Halo series of games stands well alone, aside from support materials like the novels, but not separately from each other.
So as a series of games, I think it is a self-contained and comprehensible artistic work. However, Halo 3 makes about as much sense in isolation from its prequels as the Return of the King would all by itself, which is to say, not a whole lot.
Halo 2 and Halo 3, to be comprehensible, depend on the previous games, and this is only natural and acceptable. I'd argue that Mr. Godinez-- who writes about games on his blog-- either didn't play the first two games, or didn't pay much attention when he did.
Enter H3, the end of the trilogy, and Bungie's triumphant redemption to the lackluster campaign on H2. Enter more user-customization than ever before. Map Forge, Theatre-mode, and more. It has possibly more bells and whistles than any other console game, ever. But are the multiplayer extras and customization enough to win over the H1 fans? The auto-aim was turned down, but is it enough to make the H1 crowd forget about their beloved scoped pistol?
In my opinion, H3 is better than H2, hands-down. Absolutely no comparison. I think most reading this will agree. The auto-aim was turned down significantly. I played some H2 last night, and after having played H3 for two months, was struck by how strong the auto-aim was. I like this about H3. Less auto-aim requires more skill, and rewards skilled players more than H2.
After Halo 2, VVV didn't hold out much hope that he'd like the next installment, and he's found that the game met his low expectations. Check out his review for a counterpoint to all the pro-Halo 3 enthusiasm. He does like the game-- better than Halo 2-- but there's a bittersweet flavor to it for him.
Put Lancaster Online on the list of sites that thought campaign was too short and that multiplayer is the real reason to buy Halo 3-- not to mention the reason to buy an Xbox 360 if you don't already own one.
Something Awful reviews Halo 3, and for once, it's a real review (sort of) and not just an excuse to crack some poop jokes. Except, there are a few poop jokes.
Generally the review falls into the "single player is crap but multiplayer is good" except they also hated multiplayer. What do you expect? It's Something Awful.
They do manage to slip in a couple of the PC-centric prejudices that seem to characterize many of the reviews, such as:
The weapons feel like toys and don't have the responsiveness or feedback of a game like Half-Life 2.
I don't know what kind of forced feedback controller they're using on their PCs, but I really fail to see how the words responsiveness and feedback apply to weapons in Half-Life 2 (also a very good game) any more than Halo 3.
Brian Szabelski at Blogcritics.org gives a thumbs up to Halo 3:
Halo 3 is just about everything we've been led to think it would be. It falls short in some areas of campaign, where things seem like the generic FPS cliché of "here's a room full of bad guys, kill 'em!", but it absolutely shines in multiplayer modes. And guess what? The game's difficulties aren't just cosmetic changes like in some other titles - it's insane on Legendary, but you're rewarded more for it. No 360 owner's collection is complete without this title.
Inside Pulse reviews Halo 3, and in the process, invents more subcategories to assign ratings to than I could possibly imagine would be relevant or useful, including truly subjective things like Appeal, Originality and Miscellaneous. As the kids say, whatever. They liked the game:
It's Halo 3. It fixed everything that was wrong with Halo 2, which was in its own right pretty damned stellar. I'm a little sad to see it go, but I know there will be more. Microsoft isn't stupid. Having said that though, the fight has been finished. For now.
Hard to disagree with that unless you try real hard. After all the dust settles, Halo 3 gets a solid 8 from Inside Pulse. Must be the new math.
Though it could easily have been swamped by the hype and buried by unrealistic expectations, Halo 3 weathered the storm very well. The game, even with the few flaws, is as close to the perfect FPS as you can expect to see this console generation. Not only does it have a very solid single-player campaign that improves on every aspect of the past two, but it takes real steps forward in both multiplayer and additional features. It's quite possibly the best all-around game that the 360 will see this generation, with features that other games will be forced to imitate and gameplay that will still be entertaining far down the road.
They gave it ten points out of ten, a "virtually perfect" rating.
Halo 3's strength is in its multiplayer, they say:
If you're looking for an outstanding, unstoppable multi-player FPS, then Halo 3 is the game for you. Gears of War has a large and dedicated multi-player fan base and it looks fabulous, but the controls are not intuitive and so it's not pick-up-and-play easy like Halo is. Sure, the bumper and X buttons might throw people off for a little while, but Halo set the standard for where FPS gameplay was going, and H3 continues that legacy.
They rate it just short of a "Geek pick" because they ascribe much of the interest in the game as nostalgia for the original Halo.
GameSpy stops playing Halo 3 just long enough to wax lyrical about the game. There are viewpoints from several staffers, but here's one that stands out. Associate Console Editor Sterling McGarvey was bitten by the bug that disables the Resume feature when moving a hard drive from one console to another:
It's not all rotten in the state of Denmark, however. After jacking a Wraith to Gabe's amazement, I proceeded to mow through legions of Brute forces with alarming ease. That was because I'm playing on Normal. What can I say? I can't organize enough guys on my schedule to burn through four-player Legendary. Yet. I'm sure that I'll be far too green to play well online in time for Wednesday's upcoming 'Spy-Hunter, but what else is new?
Playing on Normal because you've no help or time for Legendary? There's a solution to that problem. It's called Heroic.
The craftsmanship here is astounding, but unfortunately the game is not perfect, as there are a couple of shortfalls. The first is the game's storyline, which throws players in at the deep-end and requires prior knowledge in order to fully appreciate it. This isn't a problem for fans, but anyone else who wants to enjoy the game will be wondering what is going on.
Call me crazy, guys, but it is a sequel. There were two other games. Expecting to know exactly what's going on in Halo 3 without having either played the other two, or at least done a bit of reading, is like expecting to walk into a showing of The Two Towers and know exactly what's going on without having seen the first two films. It's nuts.
GameRevolution gives Halo 3 an A- for upgrading Halo 2's graphics to high definition and tweaking gameplay balance, but points off for weak ally AI and a lack of "custom match searches". Seems to me customs are designed to be private... but whatever.