It's not hard to see the appeal of the idea of the Firefight mode in Halo 3: ODST. If you follow Bungie's shooter roots back to Marathon, and to the PC shooter that really kicked off the modern era, Doom, you can see the start of it.
Doom didn't have discrete multiplayer 'levels' the way Marathon and Halo did. It had a series of Episodes, each broken down into Missions that comprised one map. Each map had a series of keys necessary to open a series of doors. The last door was the Exit and led to the next Mission. Between you and each key and each door were a number of demons to kill. You could tackle this challenge solo, or bring in some friends on a local network.
Of course, you could just as easily shoot your friends as the demons. You could also set up a game on any Mission map without any demons and just play deathmatch, or you could play a deathmatch game with continually respawning demons on it.
Marathon had a similar setting, an "Aliens" checkbox that put enemies from the campaign mode onto the multiplayer maps. So while it wasn't always referred to the same way, Marathon had all the current play modes: campaign solo, campaign co-op, multiplayer (deathmatch and objective) and deathmatch-with-aliens. That's essentially what Firefight is, except it's supposed to be more towards cooperative.
So we can now safely say that with the release of Halo 3: ODST, in combination with Halo 3's multiplayer mode, has finally brought all the features of a 1994 Mac shooter to Xbox Live.
I'm only half kidding.
I'm returning to a fundamental theme of my first entry: the tension between the need (or desire) to tell a story in a particular way, and the need to keep the player involved and immersed - by maintaining the consistency and believability of the game-world. Once again I have specific Halo examples in mind - the boss-battles in Halo 2, and Halo 3. Obviously, this means Halo 3 Campaign spoilers, so stop reading here if this is a problem for you.
Halo 3 Soundtrack Adds Epic Sound To Epic Scenes: Part One
First and foremost I must admit that I am not a professional music writer or reviewer and I do not habitually review music. As such I may have misused key pieces of musical vocabulary or even misidentified instruments. I hope the audience will bear with me and that in those cases my descriptions are specific enough, if misguided, to get my meaning across.
Secondly, as the Halo 3 OST itself is arranged in such a way as to replicate the sonic experience of playing the game, I have made no effort whatsoever to separate in my mind, or in this review, the experience of playing the game from the experience of hearing the soundtrack. I feel the two are designed to reinforce each other, and this article is, as much as a review, an attempt to examine some of the ways in which it does this.
Lastly, if you haven't finished the Halo 3 campaign, don't read the below-- it contains spoilers!
It's hard not to be effusive about the soundtrack for the Halo series of games, composed and arranged by Marty O'Donnell and Mike Salvatori. As games become larger and larger projects, involving not just a handful of people but dozens upon dozens of artists, programmers, designers, writers, and testers, audio and music stand alone as areas that involve relatively few people, and hinge on the efforts of very few, in an area that still has a huge effect.
Bungie made very, very good games before they were able to add O'Donnell/Salvatori music and sound. I think it's safe to say that the addition of that element is a major ingredient in what elevates them to the level of great games.
Halo 3 is no exception in this regard. While some may scoff at the familiarity of some of the material, I think the primary challenge in scoring the last segment of a sequel is blending the new with the old. Everything needs to sound like one part of a seamless whole, the new and the old, the familiar with the reinvented. For me, at least, the Halo 3 soundtrack is a triumphant success in this regard, and is in a heavy rotation on my playlist to make up for the Halo 3 I'm not playing while my 360 is broken.
With the packaging of the Halo 3 soundtrack, the approach of the second volume of the Halo 2 soundtrack was extended over both discs of a two disc set that attempts to duplicate the sonic experience of playing the game, running through the major themes and the dynamic music triggered by certain gameplay areas, from the first cutscene of the first level right through to the bitter end, with some of the music that accompanies the main menu to round out the collection.
This trick is relatively easy, but requires patience. First you start off in the level, but with no guns. You have 2 options get the Black Eye skull (on pipe above) or you can go downstairs and get a gun. Now go up to the ops center and go to Johnson. Now this is the time consuming part. Whack Johnson around the whole level. He will do all the fighting just give him a weapon (battle rifle works nice). Do this by killing him and drop a gun on top of him. If you sont give him a weapon when he gets shot he makes an atemmpt to run over and try to punch the covenent forces (hilarious!).
This trick is very easy to do. Go on the last level and keep a rocket launcher. Next play through the level until you get right before the door to Guilty Spark 343 (outside the door of the cutscene where Sergeant johnson dies). Then if you already haven't let the Sergeant catch up and take out your rocket launcher. Shoot him (make sure he dies) and go into the cutscene before he gets back up. Kill 343 and when you exit the room Johnson will still be with you. Now prevent the Arbitor and the Sergeant from destroying the infection forms. If done correctly an infection form can enter Johnson.
This is The Ark, as seen in the cutscene that concludes Halo 3's last level. The large circular light, as well as the ring of light that surrounds it, is the incomplete Halo 04a firing. The much larger structure in the background with eight arms is the Ark. The Ark apparently serves many functions, not the least of which is a construction facility for Halo installations, as well as a master control room (seen in the level The Covenant, where the final confrontation with the Prophet of Truth occurs).
AKQA, the company responsible for last year's award-winning IRIS ARG promoting Halo 3, has put up an extensive presentation that summarizes and details each step of the game.
In episode 4, the summary reads in part:
The fourth episode continued to provide hints at the previously unknown Halo backstory, including the shocking reveal that Humans and Forerunners share an ancient biological connection.
Halo 3 is an enjoyable experience and a decent rounding out to the series. Still i was hoping for a different direction then i was given and got that 'something is off' feeling that i got with halo 2 dispite it working hard to feel more like halo 1. Spoilers ahoy for what is basically me bitching about halo 3 in it's entirety. Keep in mind i still have fun with the game and by no means consider it bad. I merely bitch because i love.
Trindacut and Narcogen take a look at The Storm, the fourth level of Halo 3, where vehicle combat is again a major theme and the story finally picks up as this level ends.
This is the MP3 version of the episode, compatible with the online player. This is the only format for this episode.
This is a pretty tricky skull to explain but I'll try my best. Okay the fog skull is on the level [b]Floodgate[/b]. It takes away the whole radar so you don't know what's behind you. To me I think this is okay considering you can go on one path most of the game and not have anything pop up behind you. Anyways, onto finding the skull.
Take out a battle rifle/carbine (just a long range type weapon or something that isn't automatic).
In response to those who've asked me what do you think of Halo 3 I wrote a long piece on finishing the fights. Halo, being a first person shooter with a linear story has a number of "finishes", though. There are the conflicts the player is a direct party to, but there are other story elements as well, and action that takes place away from the player.
How well does Bungie bring this epic trilogy to a close?
The Thunderstorm skull is found the the level, [b] The Covenant [/b]. It turns all grunts into spec-op grunts (I forget if it increases the rank of brutes and jackals but I doubt it does).
[i][b]EDITOR'S NOTE:[/b] It gives a promotion to any unit that has ranks and can receive one, including Brutes.[/i]
You better be good at getting headshots because these grunts just won't die! I have to put a whole assault rifle clip into them if I don't aim for the head! Anyways, onto how to get it.
[b] Step 1 [/b]
After you deactivate the 1st tower, get into a hornet.