Master Chief is back. It’s been a while, and to be honest I’ve never been a huge Halo fan, so I’m pretty much coming at Halo 3 as a novice.
Apparently the Covenant controls Earth, the all-consuming Flood has been unleashed and the fate if the galaxy hangs in the balance. An ancient secret, buried under the sand of Africa may hold the key to our salvation or our doom. Spartan 117, the Master Chief must uncover that secret and stop the forces that threaten us for one and for all. He is the last of his kind, a warrior born for combat, bred for war… and humanity’s only hope.
Humanity’s only hope? Sheesh, I’m not sure I’m up for that job description, but I guess I’ll give it a go.
Coming off the back of a long line of World War II shooters, jumping into the world of Halo was a bit of a culture shock – it took a while to get re adjusted and get to grips with the various monsters and the huge assortment of weaponry available to kill them.
Once I got into the swing of things however, the fun kicked in. Halo 3 is, it has to be said, is simply a first person shooter. It doesn’t try and be anything else, it doesn’t try to be original, it just does what it does, really, really well. What it lacks in interesting moves, such as peering round corners, the ability to go prone, etc, it makes up in straight forward game play that keeps the intensity tight, and shooting near constant and the addictive fun ramped up way past ten.
Halo 3 had me playing for a good four hours, which for many gamers might not sound like long enough, but my average session is usually about a hour. I have family as well as a number of different hobbies that fight for my attention, but tonight Halo was the clear winner, and will be a distraction to my life for a good portion of the next few days.
It’s not easy to pin point what makes Halo so much fun – maybe it’s because the game isn’t trying to recreate historical battles, it just wants you to blast your way through a sworn enemy, whilst drinking copious amounts of diet coke, or what ever beverage drives your gaming sessions. Possibly it’s the whole mythical storyline behind the game, and that you get to play one of the worlds newest superheroes, Master Chief.
It has to be said, watching the cut scenes, that it would be easy to get a big head from playing the Master Chief. He’s the last of his kind, and can inspire men who have been pushed past their limits of endurance to pick up their weapons and continue the fight just by walking past them. It’s as if his shadow could heal the sick and raise the dead. Master Chief has that sort of legendary aura that seems to change people and I’m not just talking about in the game. The guy is a legend in his own right. He’s a pop culture phenomenon.
But I’m getting away from myself. Back to the game. Graphically, as you’d expect from Microsoft’s flagship game, Halo 3 is amazing. The levels are huge in scope, whilst retaining crisp graphics and smooth game play. The soundtrack helps to set the tempo of the game, without overpowering the your senses and distracting you. It’s like a perfectly written score for a movie, it just suits every situation, constantly changing, but only ever playing in your subconscious, Your conscious side is listening to the sound of battle, least one of the monster sneaks up behind you.
Your adversaries are many and varied – though for a time I was thinking that the boys at Bungie had created too few alien life forms for us to kill, but then the mutated zombie like creatures appeared – shoot them and their limbs are likely to come alive and continue towards you. Don’t keep you wits in the heat of the battle, and you’ll find that these sneaky mutants have managed to jump right over you and are about to bludgeon you to death from behind.
Yes I did say bludgeon you to death. Halo 3 is rated R16 for a reason. It is an adult game that encourages you to enter a fantasy world where the only way you can save humanity is through the wholesale slaughter of your enemies. But your enemies are only a made up collection of fiends designed to be killed in a manner that tests your dexterity and skill and forces your brain to work overtime as it tries to process the sheer number of targets. And it does so, for the most part, without getting you frustrated and annoyed.
Of course, with my initial four hours I’ve only scratched the surface. There’s a whole load of options that I have yet to even contemplate looking at, then of course there’s XBox Live which I will be taking for a spin over the weekend.
So this is part one of our Halo 3 review, more to come over the weekend, and hopefully we’ll get a long time Halo fan to give his ten cents worth.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read.
Rating: R16 – Contains violence.
Platform: XBox 360.