‘Halo 3’ aims for gaming glory

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By Chris Wolf

By Chris Wolf

When my own father can point out “The Master Chief guy from Nintendo,” you know Halo is an unparalleled cultural phenomenon. With over $300 million in worldwide sales within the first week of release, “Halo 3” is the fastest selling game in history.

Unlike “Halo 2,” which consisted of labyrinth like, on-rail missions through two toned corridors, “Halo 3” once again instills a feeling of awe at how enormous and open-ended the environment is. When played through on the legendary difficulty (which I recommend to anybody who has played through “Halo” or “Halo 2”), each encounter with your enemies feels like a puzzle game within a first person shooter. Should you run out in the open, rush the groups of enemies, take out as many as you can, and then drop a bubble shield to regenerate our health? If that doesn’t work, there are at least a half a dozen other strategies you could easily employ.

The scale of battle is amazing and could be considered one of the games greatest achievements. When a group of grunts primed their grenades, and started a kamikaze run towards me, screeching “Kill the Demon!” I was in awe. One section pits you against two huge walking tanks called “Scarabs,” with the Marines and Covenant fighting each other in Tanks, ATV’s, Hovercraft, and Troop Carriers, while you buzz around in a Plane/Helicopter hybrid, observing the Scarabs ripping everything to shreds, bodies getting thrown sky high, feeling like a certified badass.

Clocking in at around 10 hours, if played on moderate difficulty, “Halo 3” is by no means a long game. It is, of course, intended to be played through multiple times with a buddy, or with the “Meta Game” turned on.

The Meta Game doesn’t change anything in the campaign, except for the introduction of scoring, which makes you want to race through the game, killing as many things as fast as you can in order to outscore other players online. Of course, who are we kidding; you’ll be spending a majority of your time in multiplayer after the first week you own the game.

“Halo’s” multiplayer isn’t that much different from the previous game. It’s unbelievable how balanced the game feels, even with the inclusion of new weapons and vehicles. Matchmaking makes its triumphant return, along with the traditional numerical ranking system, on top of a permanent military rank.

Fans of statistics will not be disappointed, since Bungie’s Web site (http://www.bungie.net) tracks every single game you’ve played in. You can log in and see your cumulative kill to death ratio for all the games you’ve played in, how many people you killed with a sniper rifle, how many times you’ve been killed with a grenade, the list goes on.

On top of a solid campaign, and multiplayer, Bungie has introduced an intuitive replay system. You can now save every game you play, and be in complete 360 degree control of the camera.

On top of that, you can easily share them with your friends, or upload them online. I’ve already received two embarrassing headshot compilations, both starring my unfortunate Spartan’s oversized head.

“Halo 3” is worth every penny. Its online multiplayer instantly gives it nearly an unlimited level of replay. The disc hasn’t been removed from my Xbox 360 since the day it was released. This game is an absolute must-buy for any 360 owner.

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