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Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Bungie Studios
System: Xbox 360
Release date: Available now
Review by: Andrew Clark
The phrase “finish the fight” has been echoing incessantly in the ears of every Halo player the world over ever since the final cut scene brought Halo 2 to an abrupt cliffhanger ending. Some were left with an acrid taste in their mouth, anxious to return to Earth to further battle the Covenant; others simply accepted it, but departed with a book of unanswered questions. Yet both Bungie and Microsoft knew this was the right way to ensure the next sequel’s success — by giving gamers a feast and leaving dessert surprisingly absent for a few years. Of course, we were given a sample back in May of what the multiplayer portion of Halo 3 offered, but now that mealtime has finally come, are we still hungry?
In the previous game, we ended with an image of Master Chief stowed onboard a Forerunner vessel carrying the prophet of Truth, lone survivor of a theocratic high council that controlled the Covenant and all its affairs. Truth and his followers are of the mind that if the remaining halo rings are fired, a “Great Journey” would usher those who are devout to the beyond, where they can mingle with their Forerunner ancestors. The Covenant separatist Elites and the UNSC, on the other hand, have been made aware that this is not the case, and that the rings’ true function is its ability to exterminate the parasitic rot-race known as the Flood by essentially starving them out. This would be good news if “starving them out” didn’t require eradicating all known life in the galaxy. Naturally, our hero’s sense of duty denotes that Truth and his adherents must be stopped, should he survive the longest high-dive in the history of mankind.
We begin the third chapter of the saga with a flaming chunk of debris burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere. As it streaks silently across the sky, a piece breaks away and takes on an altered course toward the camera. Visions of Slim Pickens riding the bomb at the end of “Dr. Strangelove” spring to mind as the incinerated scrap descends, but end quickly when the landing produces more of a thud than the expected atomic explosion. Master Chief starts Halo 3 as a dead man, buried six feet under the compacted ground. Of course, he’s only mostly dead, and after a quick flashing of the bios, our protagonist is on his feet and ready to finally conclude a war that has far overrun its course.
The campaign section of Halo 3 features a robust nine levels which can be tackled solo or cooperatively via two-player split screen or four players on Xbox Live. Environments ranging from dense jungles, fortified UNSC installations, industrial zones and desert barrens await, populated with members of the Covenant faithful and hoards of Flood-infected, which look to hinder your progress. You are joined in battle by the Arbiter, an Elite holy warrior-come-sympathizer from the last game that a friend can control as you strive to put an end to Truth’s religious zealotry. Additionally, friendly soldiers from both sides accompany on occasion, too, transforming the simple firefights from antecedent games into all-out battle royals. Everything just feels bigger in Halo 3, from the number of weapons and vehicles, to the scope of the playing field itself, not to mention that (almost) every unanswered question leftover from the second game is concluded in a satisfying fashion.
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