Halo 3 and why I’ll play it again

I’ll admit, at first I was skeptical of Halo 3. I’d played a bit of Halo 2 (both single and multiplayer) and the game seemed to be fundamentally flawed in many ways: Having self-healing armour meant that you had to run off each time you got hurt (each time the fight got started), being able to jump that far meant that you could just hammer the jump button repeatedly and be nearly impossible to hit. The game just felt like an exercise in fight evading acrobatics.

And I felt the same way through the start of Halo 3. Other than sometimes stupefyingly good graphics (some of the scenic shots are even better than the ones we saw in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion) and some of the best vehicle-based fighting we’ve seen in an action game (my favourite is a sort of hovercraft called “Ghost”) there was nothing remarkable here, but there were annoying harmless little aliens with annoying squeaky voices, there was a backstory that the game made no attempt to explain (but the manual does, so take note) and there were several pistol weapons that seemed pretty much interchangeable: overall a wholly missable experience.

Suddenly, it changed. In chapter 4 a machine called a “scarab” gets dropped and you have to destroy it by shooting at its joints with rockets (sound remarkably similar to almost every other boss battle ever made ever? If not it should do), but the difference is now that I was having fun! I was excited and enthused and hooked! Then, in the following chapter, the monsters suddenly went up a notch: they looked scary and suddenly posed a real threat, especially en masse (which is what they were). Halo 3 had gone from being mediocre to being a great gaming experience. The jumping no longer bothered me, the squeaky voiced enemies did return, but much later thankfully, and I was really looking forward to the vehicle sections. I even forgave the game a bug which killed me about 7 times (when you destroy the power source while standing close to it in the Scarabs in chapter 7 there’s about a 30% chance that shrapnel from the exploding power source will knock you out of the edge of the world. Admittedly this is more likely to be Havok’s fault than Bungie’s), as opposed to the bug which I didn’t forgive which sometimes prevents the allies from driving cars you’re in, either sensibly or at all.

One of the most common complaints levelled at Halo 3 is a messed up difficulty curve. While I admit that the last chapter is surprisingly easy (and full of damn good buggy-based fun!) compared to the 8th, the game does become increasingly difficult as you play it, and what more do you expect from a difficulty curve?

Halo 3 gave me a load of vehicle and FPS fun, some achievement points, and a desire to play more Halo 3. And what more do you expect from a game?

- John

Finished the Fight.

About John

INX's resident professional games designer!
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