Halo 3 - game review
2001 was a great year for players. PlayStation 2 has already danced on Dreamcast's grave, but the premiere of Xbox and the emerging competition have resulted in an unprecedented flood of great titles. Microsoft needed a large gun to take the market by storm, and the biggest missile was to be Halo by Bungie Studios, a company previously known mainly from Myth: The Fallen Lords . Halo , created at the beginning on the PC, since the takeover of the studio by the giant from Redmond, changed the azimuth to a new child of Bill Gates to become a black horse in the team of Microsoft Games Studios - a division specializing in the production of games. The history of the adventures of Master Chief immediately gained cult status, and if anyone had the opportunity, he started diplomatic contacts in the form of an uncle in the United States to bring Xbox and Halo in the NTSC version. The excellent sales results were not only due to the advertising campaign. Halo redefined the concept of first-person shooter, but rather restored its original meaning of the game in which, first of all, shoots, rather than straying looking for passages or keys. Halo comparisons with classics such as Contra or Turrican were fully justified. Other aspects were also significant, such as fantastic graphics and revolutionary sound setting with the pioneering Dolby Digital system.
All this contributed to the fact that the second part was one of the most anticipated games in the entire history of the industry. The continuation of the adventures of Master Chief was criticized for the campaign being too short and ending, which it actually lacked. However, the players liked the multiplayer mode, and the effect of their love for the series was the fact that to date the combined sales of both parts of Halo have exceeded 14 million copies, not counting comics, albums and toys. Can you imagine the breath of millions of players from around the world on your back? The responsibility that rested on the team with Bungie was huge, so the work on Halo 3 lasted a good few years. Will the day of September 26 be unlucky enough to associate with the Scope Tape and the Fourth Republic of Poland? Fortunately no - the premiere of Halo 3 has become a fact. And most importantly, a surprising fact (even for high expectations) is positive. Let's try to cut ourselves off from the first information about the sacks of green gold, all the rags and achies, and take a cold look at the latest shootout from Bungie.
Action Halo 3 does not start exactly when the second part ends. Real fans probably have had contact with a series of comics, but fortunately their knowledge is not necessary to get a grip on history. One thing has not changed: Aliens still want to destroy humanity, and worse, they found an artifact on Earth that could cause a cosmic catastrophe. Our green colleague comes into action again, who with a little help from his friends must save the world from the apocalypse. We will meet old friends such as the Arbitrator, Mrs. Commander Keyes or a black lover of (Cuban?) Avery Johnson cigars. I must admit that the authors took the players' attention to the previous part and the third Halo is not in the least talked about. The action takes place at a good pace, there are of course no interludes, but they are not overly long. And most importantly, Halo 3 has an ending, it may or may not be liked, but at least it is.
The gameplay has not changed. Identically as in the first and second parts, we control Master Chief, with the difference that this time without unnecessary surprises. If we play a solo campaign, we will no longer prove playing Arbitrator, which probably turned out to be good for the game. However, the game definitely follows the path marked by the second part - this time only the scale is larger. As if the fate of the world is not important, the setting must be unique. Let's focus for a moment on the important details that the series has always been famous for. Of the noticeable differences, first of all, new types of weapons, new vehicles and items should be mentioned. Alien plasma weapons have gone to the background in favor of typical human rifles and brand new announcers and maulers. The first seemingly resembles a plasma shotgun, but it differs with replenished ammunition and firepower. The second is a hybrid of shotgun and revolver, spreading destruction at close range. You can rarely play with a flame thrower or a portable automatic cannon, but these weapons are not crucial in the campaign. In addition to the already known Ghosts, Wraiths or Warthogs, we will have to use completely new Choppers (more dangerous as kamikaze in the hands of the enemy than in ours) or, attention, flying steel hornets Marines. Battles do not only take place on the ground, but also in the air and are also much more intense than in the previous part.
Items that can be used not only by us but also by our opponents are completely new. If you are suddenly blinded by a bright glow, it means that one of the Brutes has just used a flare. We also have a special force field, looking like a glass hemisphere, protecting everyone inside from arrows from outside. Although the gameplay rules have remained the same as in the second part, Halo 3 is much more mature and more satisfying. The campaign is free of any monotony, which could not be said about its predecessor. There, the focus was on the multiplayer mode, which reflected in the quality of the game for one player. Here it is more balanced, although let's not hide, Halo 3 is above all a show of the possibilities of Xbox Live and a real paradise for all freaks of respawn and shooting in jumps.
However, before we go to the group fun, it is necessary to point out some small mistakes that the authors did not avoid. We will start with the most harassing intelligence, or rather its deficiencies in our allies. The first rule of every self-respecting Spartan in Halo 3 should be: you can count, count on yourself. The reason is simple, the marines will probably pointlessly thrash back and forth, and the effect of the assault will be that after all we collect their ammunition from the floor. Interestingly, this does not apply to enemies, who - like in previous Halo - are quite clever. Even Grunci become troublesome, who often act as kamikazes in vehicles. Another problem is the lack of an automap. In our world, GPS systems can even be found in rows strung on tow trucks from behind the western border. So why is the ultramodern soldier of the future not equipped with such a simple toy? Two allegations are not enough, so let's add a third to make the number match. In three words: the final sequences of the campaign - but everyone has to verify it in person. Despite these minor drawbacks, the balance of solo play is positive. Despite some shortcomings, the campaign is epic, at higher levels of difficulty very exciting, and most importantly, unlike the second part, satisfying. Let's move to the other side of the coin and look with a cool eye on multiplayer.
To tell you the truth, there is everything a shooting soul could ever want. We can play the campaign in cooperative mode with three other players. Gameplay on a split screen is possible, but you have to admit that the best experience offers the game via Xbox Live (of course, we can also play locally with a second pad or connecting consoles in a link system). Interestingly, instead of running colorful Spartans, the second player takes on the role of Arbitrator, and the third and fourth as the elite of aliens. The multiplayer mode itself is expanded to astronomical sizes. Here we have typical games such as capturing the flag or just just punching out, but also specific only to Halo 3 , like Infestation, where one half of the players are infected strangers whose task is to infect the rest. In total, on eleven maps, we can play in nine different modes, and there is also the option of own settings, where we can accurately determine the player's resistance to hits, movement speed and other important details. As if that was not enough, the authors have provided the Forge option - this is not a typical map editor, but rather a special type of game in which after the beginning we can modify the environment by creating objects, vehicles, moving some elements of the structure. In the world of multiplayer games, the forge is such an isolated and original case that it is difficult to imagine thousands of players who will want to discover all its advantages.
This element, however, gives a lot of scope for those who will stay with Halo 3 when the dust settles. Thanks to the recording option, we can capture the best moments and exchange with friends. Interestingly, the recorded clips are not only a video recording, but an interactive movie shown in real time (we can change the view during the process). And not only movies, we can exchange, but literally everything that we were able to create in Halo 3, including settings or variants of maps from the forge.
When it comes to audiovisual values, Halo 3, like other cycle games, is at the forefront among the titles currently in this topic leading. If anyone claims that the third part is a "two" in high definition, it simply misses the truth. Yes, there are not so many special effects here that we can admire in Bioshock (and for now, only in Bioshock), but you can't fail to notice the fantastically refined textures, vehicles, weapons rendered in the smallest details, and finally large spaces where there's always a lot going on. Lighting effects are also very good, especially the gaps, which look extremely realistic. Of course, some locations give the impression of being treated a little bit less, but immediately afterwards we get to a place that dazzles with the number of details.
You also can not fail to notice the work put in by graphic designers to develop a living, credible world. The vision of alien invasion could simply not be better realized. The only thing that can bother you is a bit too smoothly smoothed edges, but this is a trifle visible only from a short distance on large LCD screens. When it comes to sound, the Halo series has always been ahead of the competition and it is no different in the third part. Marty O'Donnell, with a virtually unlimited budget, could let loose his musical fantasy and create one of the best soundtracks in the history of games. The music was recorded with the participation of the full orchestra, choir and various instruments and synthesizers. Actually, it is difficult to add anything here, you just need to hear. The same applies to sound effects recorded with an innovative method, so that the sounds sound realistically from both a short and long distance. The characters were lent by the same actors who worked on the second part. In the role of Master Chief we will hear Steve Downes again, and Cortana was voiced by Jen Taylor (a small curiosity: Taylor also voiced the voice of Princess Peach in Nintendo games), while Commander Keyes speaks in the voice of the star of the Dexter series, Julie Benz.
Halo 3 is one of the best shooters on the market and probably one of the contenders for the title of the game of the year. Bungie gathered all the qualities of the previous two parts, added new elements to create a shooter if not outstanding and most original, then certainly excellent and extremely refined. The third Halo will probably go down in history mainly because of the money earned, but it is a title worth every cent. The single player campaign will take a maximum of 15 hours on the standard difficulty level, but the multiplayer mode is a mine that can be used for months. An absolutely must-have position for any fan of shooting.
Maciej "Shinobix" Kurowiak