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The Quixotic Engineer

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

First Impressions of Halo 3

Halo 3

All the hype and anti-hype about Halo 3 left a sour taste in my mouth and made me question whether or not I should bother writing anything about the game. While it certainly doesn't deserve the release madness it has created, the fact is that Halo 3 is a very solid FPS with extremely refined balance and great production value. Taken objectively without the fanboy hype, the game is just good fun.

I never owned an original Xbox, but I did play the first two Halo games occasionally at other people's houses. As someone whose last shooters had been Goldeneye and Perfect Dark at the time, the wide open spaces and vehicles blew me away. The repetitive level design and waves of Flood, however, bored me to tears. Halo 2 fared much better on the levels at the cost of the weapon balance (can't say I'm a fan of dual wielding, losing easy access to grenades and melee is too restrictive.)

Here in no particular order are my impressions of the third game after roughly two hours of playtime in campaign mode:

  • Right off the bat, I'm not sure why anyone was whining about the graphics. The game looks at least as good as Gears of War to me. My only quibble is with the marines and other humans, who have rather poor face modeling and lip syncing.
  • The game does a good job of guiding you to where you need to go. This is nice, because I frequently got lost and disoriented in the first game (although that may have just been the bland level design...)
  • The new equipment is good fun, and adds some interesting dynamics to the game. You'll see a lot of the Bubble Shield in the first level. I'm personally especially fond of the Grav Lift, I'm really looking forward to using it against a vehicle.
  • I used to enjoy using the sword in Halo 2, but the Gravity Hammer is my new weapon of choice. I just can't resist the appeal of batting enemies halfway across the map. I was also impressed by the AI of the hammer wielding Brutes, they're very effective
  • Watching yourself in third person in theatre mode is neat, and pausing the animations makes you appreciate how good the game looks. However, the lack of a Rewind button and a Fast Forward that caps at roughly 3x speed are really glaring flaws. Having worked a little with animated replays in the past, I have some idea as to the challenge of adding those two particular features. However, having to sit for 10 minutes to get to a kill 30 minutes in and praying that you don't accidentally skip it is quite frankly ridiculous.

My Xbox tag is MrQuixotic, feel free to drop me an invite if you're up for some co-op or competitive Halo 3.



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