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Halo 3

Posted on: September 29, 2007

So through a fortunate coincidence Halo 3 was released during my visit to Microsoft in Redmond. Thus I had a chance to play through the first few hours of the game. How does it hold up? Well, the game play is very very good, the character control is amazing and the environments are astonishing.

However, as the story line goes, I have to give it up to Half-Life 2, as in my opinion it still holds up better than Halo 3. I must admit I haven’t finished either so I expect to be flamed for not knowing what I am talking about, but as DN points out
the single player campaign in Halo 3 is only 7 hours long, and I do believe I played through the first 5.

Anyways, Half-Life’s story line may be thin as onion skin, but the way the story unfolds in the Half-Life universe is still a greater experience in my opinion. On Halo’s part I’d give it sugar and love for the game play, weapons/difficulty balance and character control.

I would also, based on watching my friends (some of who are great fans of the series) playing the game, say that if you are a fan of the Halo chronicle, I am sure you will love this last chapter. It is faster, more intense, more beautiful and even better balanced than the previous ones. It is, in my opinion, without the doubt the greatest console FPS experience ever.

Way to go Bungie!

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6 Responses to "Halo 3"

…I cannot stop myself from asking: When you dub Halo 3 the “greatest console FPS experience ever” – How many console fps:s have you played? ;-)

Sure it’s a big statement but I stick to it as being my personal opinion. Maybe I should have been even clearer on the fact that it is my opinion based on my experience with the genre.

Anyways, while I may not be a very avid gamer (I don’t even own an Xbox), as you know the company I work for build middle ware engines and PostFX tools for games, products that are used a lot on the Xbox platform. Thus in the company we have a large library of games, the FPS genre being particularly well represented. I’ve had a chance to try my hands on most of those, and I’ve watched my co-workers play a lot of them as well. I have to say that as far as my experience goes, this was the first time I was able to just jump in the game and enjoy the action right away, without struggling with game controls. That combined with the well balanced level design made Halo 3 my best console FPS experience so far.

Still, on a side note I would like to point out that I for one prefer to play FPS using a mouse + keyboard. I guess that’s just personal preference.

…being able to jump right in doesn’t strike me as a winning argument for the excellence of a game. Weren’t you the one who always complained about how games were getting to easy, how gamers today never really met any true challenges, how you longed back to the shootemups and platform impossibilities of old?

I would say that Halo:s low treshold and general simplicity is geared towards the online gaming market – a statement that’s confirmed by the tiny offline campaign available. It is aiming to be for consoles what Counter-strike is for PC:s.

But, talking about Halo 3 as a great game feels very stagnant. Sure, the first Halo put the stamp of approval on FPS:s for consoles – finally a FPS playable with a joypad.

But that was what…. six years ago? Today the Halo franchise competes with games like Bioshock, Gears of War, the Darkness, Metroid Prime 3 (Yes, a sequel, but a first for the Wii), Medal of Honor: Airborne, Call of Duty 3 (seqels, granted – but they offer an amazing level of detail in surroundings and feeling of being-there)…

So, in my book, Halo 3 is interesting as an online competition enabler, that together with the nice integration with xbox live in the 360 and the accesories like headsets etc will surely sky rocket console gaming into the e-sport leagues.

But, as an FPS per se, it offers little new under the sun. Sure, it’s great fun, but that’s not all that’s needed to warrant the raves.

Your view on this?

First I would like to say that being able to ‘jump in’ and start enjoying a game is at least to me personally a very important point when it comes to the excellence of a game. I for one do not want to struggle for hours to figure out the controls and buttons of a games interface, and I guess that is why I stay away from many advanced RTS and strategy games, as well as many simulators. Also, being able to start playing without first wading through manuals and learning controls in endless tutorials has nothing to do with a games difficulty. I never said the game wasn’t challenging enough, just that it was easy enough to understand right away.

(Also, I guess there is also a difference in genre. Archanoid is by today’s standards not a very revolutionary or technically groundbreaking game, but it’s still loads of fun and it can get very difficult if you keep at it ;)

Whether the game is set to appeal mainly to an online audience or not I do not know, I never played it online so I don’t know what that experience would be like. However I guess it makes sense as the Xbox Live seems to be getting a lot of love from MS.

On your last point, that the game offers little new under the sun, I would agree in terms of mechanism and level design. I would actually go further and say that compared to many other games there are even less ‘game-mechanisms’ in Halo. Example, sure you get to ride around in different vehicles, but there is very little difference in actual gameplay regardless of what your ride is. Still while the game may be less varied in that sense, I enjoyed the flow of the levels and the rythm in the game very very much. It may not be very innovative, but it is very well executed.

Also, I don’t know about the ‘raves’, I haven’t read any reviews other than the DN article cited above so I don’t know how the general gamer audience is reacting to the game. I may be off but I sense in your writing a general disagreement with the hype and the fuzz surrounding the game? Again, I may be off there…

Anyways, it is as I stated above a very personal oppionion and I am sure that there are people just like me who will really like this game, and there are others who look for something more revolutionary and ‘technically’ challenging.

Yes, it’s a fun game experience – but it differs little from Halo 1 or 2. Hence, one could discuss the Halo series as a great game series, but I do feel that there should be more than just better gfx and physics in a sequel to warrant the label “great”…

…also, if you like the style of FPS but prefer playing on a PC, I recommend the latest installment in the Unreal Tournament franchise.

And regarding the human/computer interface of the game – I’m not voting for a more complex interface, what I’m talking about goes beyond button setup. I’m talking about ways to interact with the world through your avatar, the number of possible ways to solve problems, the level of emergent gameplay possible.

Of course, all that doesn’t necessarily mean a great game. Just look at Bioshock. Great concept, very exciting game mechanics, loads of emergent gameplay – much of the fun is “what-if-I-do-this-instead-of-that-to-kill-those-two-weirdos” – but in the end it does get a bit to tedious, repetitive… as always it’s the little things.

On the subject, I’m currently reading through A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster, in its entirety this time. It is truly an excellent book on game design – and in some ways on life. Recommended reading.

nice post.. I think I’m addicted to halo, such a good game..

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