Tag Archives: Bungie

Halo 3 Thoughts

I’ll have some spoilers in this post, so you might want to avoid it if you haven’t finished the campaign. I’ll black out any that directly talk about what happens at the end, but I won’t mark obvious or minor ones. Consider yourself warned.

Anyway…the biggest game of the year has arrived and I’ve finished it, as have millions of others, no doubt. All the speculation about how they’d close it – in my case whether or not they’d fire the rings and kill everyone – have been answered and now all we have to show for it is one of the most complete multiplayer games ever made. It’s a hard life…

Master Chief vs a Scarab: no contest

Overall I loved the game, and with the exception of one massive low – mission 8 on heroic was like jabbing myself in the eye for 40 minutes – I thought that the campaign was up there with the first game. In fact I’d probably say it was better since Halo wasn’t without its own infamously bad level and Halo 3 was much less liberal with the repetition of environments, at least dressing them up differently or changing things around. Off the top of my head there are three missions here that I could play until my thumbs drop off and not bore of them – The Storm, The Ark, and The Covenant – up there with The Silent Cartographer and Assault on the Control Room as classics.

Multiplayer is as supreme as it was back in the beta and little has changed since my initial impressions. Big Team Battle on Valhalla with a team of friends is dangerously close to a perfect multiplayer experience, and it’s the new features that allow you to relive it that I want to talk about.

Even if they haven’t yet been matched for depth, Halo 2 was the big step towards making persistent stats a standard feature that has been co-opted for the likes of Battlefield 2 and Resistance. Halo 3 just takes it to the next level, with everything that Halo 2 had and more, including the screenshot facility that we’ll undoubtedly be seeing more of as the popularity grows (see Gran Turismo 4, Forza 2, PGR3, etc). Just going to the stats page for a game lets you view all of the saved media of the best moments such as my double laser kill from across the map (plug). I love taking screenshots to show off the stunning lighting in the game, and the above screen is one such example from my campaign.

The sharing features, coupled with Forge (I’ll link to Bungie’s explanantion since I’ve barely scratched the surface) and the way that it allows you to essentially make custom game modes to be shared and recommended amongst the whole community pushes what LittleBigPlanet will be doing, just with little things like a single player mode and orthodox multiplayer. That’s not a bash of LBP since I want it badly, but the fact that many of these revolutionary features are available right now in Halo 3 – a first-person shooter, in case you’ve forgotten – is why it’s getting all these tens.

I’ll end, aptly, with my thoughts on the ending. It didn’t do what I expected but I found it very satisfying and a great way to finish up the story. Things are still open to some extent (I hope this doesn’t mean Halo 4, though) but it gave closure. I enjoyed how it bookended the whole thing, as the Halo trilogy began with Master Chief getting out of his cryo-pod with little information on his past and ended with him getting into one with a similarly uncertain future. Beautifully done and impressively understated. But in case I haven’t been clear about this, leave the story where it is.

Not one ‘finish the fight’ reference. I’m so proud.

Consolevania’s Halo Parody

I’m going to assume that you’ve seen the new Halo 3 TV ad, which may or may not spoil the whole thing for everyone (Bungie has assured everyone that it doesn’t), and if you haven’t watched it you should. I’ll wait here until you’re finished.

When that’s done you need to watch this absolutely sublime parody, created by the Consolevania team:

Superb, and oh so true.

A Few Hours with Halo 3

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find an email from Bungie in my inbox, complete with the Halo 3 beta code that I won months ago and which meant several things. Firstly I could get downloading early, and secondly I’ll actually be able to get playing today. Ha!

Very brief impressions is that it looks nice in HD – colourful and sharp, but still needing a bit of work on the occasional hiccups in the framerate – and plays like Halo. Going online, especially against a group who’ve been playing for a while now, is always something of a trial by fire, and inevitably I spent a couple of games running around like a headless chicken and being sniped from who-knows-where. I’d be lying if I said I still wasn’t getting killed fairly frequently, in fact.

Nonetheless, I like what I’m seeing. Some early thoughts:

  • It looks better in motion than in shots. Certain things are still clearly not final (water effects, for example) but things are already nice and solid. Halo 2 seems almost unplayable now.
  • Brilliant sound. You can really hear distant battles going on (the mounted guns sound weirdly like trains, though) and you’ll often be hit before you hear the report.
  • Valhalla will be a more than competent replacement for Blood Gulch/Coagulation. It’s a great map.
  • The new/old assault rifle is a much better all-round starting weapon than the SMG. You’re still at a disadvantage against someone with a better gun obviously, but you’re far less emasculated.
  • RB replacing X takes a bit of getting used to for performing actions. Once you’ve got it, though, it makes things more flexible.
  • The equipment is definitely cool. Bubble shield has its uses, the power drainer – drains shields and disables vehicles in its blast radius – is invaluable for attacking a flag/hill/VIP, and a mine placed at the landing point for the man cannon is guaranteed hilarity. The portable jump pad is only used in one situation in the beta and seems the least flexible, but we’ll see.
  • The new weapons are all quite good. I’m still a bit worried that the laser will be overpowered once people work it out but they all have their caveats. The spike grenade is awesome in tight corridors. The needler might as well be new: it’s a monster that can take someone down with one ‘clip’, and thankfully can’t be dual-wielded now.
  • I’ve had quite a lot of lag, which I’m willing to put down to it not having worked out who makes the best host yet, as in Halo 2. This has the same painful quirk in which you’ll mysteriously warp back a few steps over and over again when you’re lagging, which drives me mad.

By far the best part, though, is deliberately sending invites to people who don’t have the beta. They think it’s just as hilarious as I do!

Above all, the game just feels right. It feels like Halo, in other words. This thing is going to make the wait until 26th September even harder.

I Am Win!

Halo 3

I can’t remember the last time I won anything, but I’m thoroughly chuffed with this (clue: it’s under ‘N’). Saves me spending £40 on Crackdown for a while, at least. Unless it turns out to be good, in which case I’ll buy it anyway and have two beta keys.

I used to win stuff all the time, and now maybe it’s only because I enter competitions for stuff that I can’t really buy without a massive overdraft (Premiership tickets and wall-sized televisions, for example) but as far as I can remember the last time I won anything was an advance copy of Batman Forever on VHS in 1995. Maybe that was why I stopped entering competitions…

Regardless, I don’t have to buy a game that I don’t really want, and I’m guaranteed to be playing lots and lots of Halo 3 multiplayer (surely the only game that will ever prise us away from COD2 multi?) in a couple of months. Right when my dissertation is due…