This week's column contained a heavily edited version of what Chad George and Robert Evans thought about the game. Here is their thoughts, plus all of the stuff I left out.
Let's start by saying up front that I am not a Halo fan, never have been. The first game was amazing in the fact that it raised the bar for all future first person shooters by letting gamers do what they wanted all along; play against a computer controlled enemy that actually "thought." The following game had one of the best multiplayer components to date. The final chapter is simply a prettied up version of those two combined. Don't get me wrong, the graphic are absolutely amazing in single player and multiplayer... but at the end of the day, Halo 3 is the same run and gun game it has always been. The single player campaign is short and, while I have not 'finished the fight,' it seems the all the hype poured into the game is just that. Gameplay is smooth and the enemies are smarter ( i.e. they form together to attack en masse, run off to alert comrades, etc...) but it is extremely linear. In this time of open world exploration and sand-box games(think BioShock and Grand Theft Auto,) one would think that Microsoft's biggest release of the year would include the ability to go where you wanted, when you wanted. There is a bit of the ability to roam, but there are definite boundaries that force you to fight enemy A and then enemy B. Halo 3 doesn't do anything new, but it is very pretty. In the end, all you have to remember to win the game is: Don't run out of bullets.
On the other hand, the multiplayer is very robust. The sheer number of game variations, addition of the theater, and the "Forge" make this an online game to have. Finding a game online is very easy and matches you with people of the same skill level (rank) 99% of the time. Additionally, if you have a large friend's list you can have a group of up to 16 people in the game so you know who you're playing against. If you make a great kill, find a spot to snipe, or just want to show off to your friends the ability to record and share your game movie is a perfect addition, as well as being able to take a snapshot from the gameplay. The forge lets you change any map to your liking to make things different from any other map. You cannot change the map itself ( i.e. can't move a mountain, add grass, etc...) but you can add weapons, vehicles, and spawn points... among other things.
In my opinion, Halo 3 is a must have if you enjoy online gaming and have a Gold Xbox Live membership. Other than that, I would probably rent it or add it to my GameFly list.
Halo 3, the conclusion to one of the most influential game trilogies this generation, sold over 170 million dollars in sales on the first day, setting a new industry record.
For the conclusion to an epic story such as Halo's, the campaign of Halo 3 was relatively short. The campaign features nine levels with some of the most epic enemy encounters and massive battles in any video game. For skilled players, though, you can play through the entire multiplayer experience on Legendary (the hardest difficulty in the game) in around seven hours.
The story is extremely immersive and creates a great conclusion to the Halo Trilogy. Halo 3's campaign felt very much like Halo: Combat Evolved, a very good improvement over the lacking Halo 2 campaign. However, many storylines from the second games were completely forgotten in the final title (such as the religious conflict between the many branches of the Covenant).
The real fun begins when you load Halo 3 multiplayer and begin playing with friends in your house, on your block, or anywhere around the world. Locally, up to four players can participate in Halo 3 multiplayer and two players can cooperatively play through the campaign. Over system link, up to 16 players can play in multiplayer and up to four players can cooperatively play through the campaign. Likewise, players from around the world can join with their friends or strangers to challenge others in multiplayer or invite friends to help them in the campaign.
The weapons in Halo 3 have seen some changes since the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta earlier this year. Two weapons that saw the greatest changes between the Beta and the final game are the sniper and beam rifles. Unlike in Halo 2 and the Beta, you must be much more accurate and even lead your prey when trying to kill them with the sniper rifle (much like Halo: Combat Evolved).
The Gravity Hammer, a weildable Brute melee weapon, was also added to the game. This weapon rivals the Energy Sword in power (the gravity hammer can kill enemies in one hit and knock vehicles, players, and even rockets out of the way), but lack greatly in speed. Two inflammatory weapons, the Flamethrower and Incendiary Grenade, have also been added to the game to let us burn each other up.
Forge and Theater
Two of the coolest new features in Halo 3 are Forge, a limited multiplayer map editor, and the Theater. Forge allows players to edit elements of multiplayer maps, such as weapon placement, vehicles, spawns, and even objectives, and save their new creations to share with players in the community.
The theater is a video playback feature that allows players to watch videos of their latest multiplayer and campaign games, take screenshots of the action to save to their computers in high definition, or capture clips to share with their friends over Xbox Live.