So long, Master Chief

Halo 3 calls it a day
Rating: 1.5 stars
October 1, 2007 4:52:01 PM

VIDEO: The trailer for Halo 3

Halo 3 | For Xbox 360/Rated M for Mature | Published by Microsoft Game Studios | Developed by Bungie
That giant sucking sound you heard last week was $170 million being transferred from gamers’ wallets to Bill Gates’s retirement fund, all for the privilege of playing Halo 3. What an event! Stores across the country held midnight launch parties. Some merry MIT pranksters dressed up John Harvard as Halo’s star, Master Chief. Local news stations interviewed kids who’d been waiting outside storefronts for hours — ostensibly because they wanted the game, but more likely, I suspect, because they know that in America you can get a taste of celebrity just by waiting in line to buy something.

Halo is the great unifier of the video-game world, bringing together people of all stripes, from hardcore geeks to competitive jocks. As the first console game to integrate on-line multi-player, it gave the masses a taste of something PC gamers had been enjoying for years. Yet of all the high-profile shooters to appear on the Xbox 360 within the past year, it’s the weakest. It has none of the gritty verisimilitude of Gears of War . It doesn’t require the tactical tightrope walk of Rainbow Six Vegas . It lacks the brains of BioShock and the heart of The Darkness . With so many superior alternatives available, one wonders why Halo is the game everybody agreed on.

Start with the lackluster single-player campaign. It has a single distinguishing characteristic, the stellar vehicular sequences, and the franchise has been coasting on that since day one. Little else has changed. True, the level design doesn’t reach the ludicrous repetition of the original Halo’s infamous Library stage. But rather than lay out dozens of identical sections of hallway, as in the past, Halo 3 simply makes you run back and forth through the same one several times. It’s really the worst of both worlds: no room for exploration or environmental interaction, and no propulsive narrative to keep you hustling.

In between all the usual mission objectives to shut down shield generators and eliminate anti-air defenses and so on, you’re treated to some of the most hamfisted storytelling in recent memory. The dialogue is full of macho platitudes and meaningful pauses, and when the evil Prophet of Truth speaks, he might as well be cackling and twisting his handlebar moustache. Worse still, idiotic in-game dialogue on the part of your computer-controlled allies punctures any sense of drama during the action.

Of course, no one plays Halo for the single-player campaign. It’s all about multi-player. And the first thing you’ll notice upon joining a game on Xbox Live is that the non-player characters are the acme of sophistication and wit compared with the real-life cretins you encounter on-line. It’s simply not possible to exaggerate the level of idiocy in a typical public match. Bigoted taunts are bad enough on their own, especially coming from some prepubescent kid, but is it too much to ask that some of the comments be remotely clever? As my first on-line match was loading, someone demanded that we veto the game because the level was “gay.” Another participant quickly noted that the complainer’s mom was, in fact, gay.

Ah, they’ll say, the point is to play Halo with your friends — not with random idiots! The franchise’s popularity endures because it provides a place for pals to congregate, even over long distances. There’s something to be said for that. The most fun I had with Halo 3 was playing split-screen with a friend of mine, but anything is fun if you do it with your friends. That’s why they’re your friends. Halo may serve a valuable purpose for millions, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good.


Don't listen to this guy/girl. Its a completely different style shooter than the aforementioned games. They obviously don't really like Halo, or just have something against Bill Gates. The multi-player is amazing despite people insulting your mother/race/religion. Get over it and kill them on the field of battle. If your being offended by some kid sitting in his moms basement, you probably should not only stay off of xbox live, but Internet all together. Anyone who has ever liked Halo will love this. The bottom line is, if the goal of bungie was to make intense multi-player battles on great maps for all skill levels to compete, then mission accomplished!

POSTED BY Dr Abominous AT 10/04/07 4:53 PM
Couldn't disagree more with this review. You didn't hit on any of the biggest new features(forge, saved films) and you're dead wrong in the points you do bring up. It sounds like you've always hated the Halo series - which is fine! For my part, I've been a big fan of Halo since day one. I bought a 360 solely to play this game. And actually, a lot of us play Halo for the Campaign. Look into the new Campaign Scoring feature, the first of many you ignored or missed. And you know you can play through the campaign online, another first for Halo, right? You're not limited to split screen anymore, which your review implies. Of course Halo's not as brainy as Bioshock. That game is a specialist in the single player story-driven genre. Likewise the rest of your comparisons to specialized shooters: Did you expect Halo to be a more realistic WW2 shooter than Medal of Honor too? Halo's matchmaking component does finally meet or exceed the quality of the best PC-based games, which should count in Halo's favor, not against it. Did you even try Forge? How about the saved film feature? You weren't struck by the ability to go back and watch your games from any point of view? How about the ability to make clips of those games and show them to your friends online? Finally, the crude banter online is nothing new or unique to this game. You'll encounter the same verbal shellacking if you try to play Uno against random opponents online. If the unwashed masses are bumming you out, try the "mute all" feature, another new one you missed.

POSTED BY Victors_Monster AT 10/05/07 11:26 PM
He (his name is Mitch, a guy) didn't say that multi-player sucks. He said the single player campaign sucks, and he's right. If you like it, then good, I hope your waiting hours in line was worth it. And yes, for the record I do hate the greedy scum sucker Bill Gates, and Microsoft is really lame. But I do love Halo 1 and 2. Too bad Halo 3 doesn't measure up. Oh and your mom is gay.

POSTED BY Artemis7 AT 10/06/07 1:04 AM
Thanks for telling it like it is. Most reviewers tend to bow at the feet of gaming sacred cows (Mario, Zelda, now Halo) but sometimes even the big leaguers strike out. Halo's guilty of one of the first person shooter's greatest sin: better graphics MEANS better game. Not the case. Gaming's evolved beyond that now. Look at Half-Life and BioShock. Sure, they're pretty, but they mix up the game play too. Halo got too big for its own britches and as such didn't feel like it needed to change. Oh well, I guess somethings are happy with just being flashes in a pan.

POSTED BY Finneas Q Sassafrass AT 10/06/07 10:13 AM
It's weird, I don't know why they made that mistake. You'd figure they would be more astute than that, judging by how well Halo 1 & 2 were. It just really lacked the creativity this time around. I saw some of the big Halo 3 countdown on the G4 channel. They were really pumping it up like it was the event of the millenia,...everyone overdosing on energy drinks and mountain dew and acting like they were on crack.

POSTED BY Artemis7 AT 10/06/07 9:58 PM

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