Adding to Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, the epic saga continues with Halo 3, the amazingly anticipated sequel to the highly successful and critically acclaimed Halo franchise. In this third chapter of the Halo trilogy, Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the epic conflict between the Covenant, the Flood, and the entire human race to a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax.
Game developer Bungie announced that Halo 3 will be released for Microsoft's Xbox 360 sometime in 2007. The game was revealed to the world at the Microsoft press conference held at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, CA in May 2006. To gamer's delight, the announcement was a complete surprise. The rumors have been abound for the past year, as everyone wondered when the next installment would be ready. Bungie and Microsoft did a stellar job keeping their lips sealed, and fans benefited from their first glimpse of the hallowed third and final installment.
The short presentation was delivered in real-time on the Xbox 360 using the current version of the Halo 3 game engine. That's right, no studio production video, Bungie and Microsoft delivered the real deal: what they showed at the announcement is what gamers will see when they play Halo 3 in 2007. The HDR lighting, self-shadowing, GPU-run particle system and many other effects are rumored to show up in full effect in the final game. Needless to say, the gaming community is salivating.
CJ Cowan, Bungie's director of cinematics discussed one of the most startling moments of the presentation: the return of Cortana. "Given the variety of character and story arcs at the end of Halo 2, we wanted to boil down our announcement to a few key threads. Cortana and the Chief being a galaxy apart is a situation we haven't seen before, and is something that is a powerful component to Halo 3. We are using her transmissions in the demo to give the viewer a few subtle clues to her situation and state of mind, without revealing any specifics we want to save for the game itself."
Graphically, the game closely follows in the tradition of Halo 2, although it has been upgraded to take advantage of the Xbox 360's more prodigious visual abilities. As art direct Marcus Lehto explained, "[The presentation] was intended to be an understated announcement of Halo 3 -- the tone is that of mystery and suspense -- the calm before the storm. I wanted to make sure that we reintroduced the Chief, showed that Earth was thoroughly conquered, with Covenant everywhere, and that there is a glorious, ancient artifact buried under the Earth's crust which will provide Halo 3 with the epic journey which we all want."
Taking full advantage of the power of Xbox 360, Halo 3 expands on everything that has made the franchise great, adding a wealth of technical and gameplay advancements. The game design has evolved with next-generation, high-definition visuals, enhanced A.I., an advanced real-time lighting engine, and, of course, new weapons, characters, and challenges. Halo 3 promises an unparalleled first-person shooter experience and, in the end, the most compelling and engrossing story in the franchise's history. Last, but certainly not least, Halo 3 builds upon the unique social multiplayer experience and innovative, evolving online gameplay of Halo 2. Rest assured, you'll still be able to run with your clan and battle with (or against) your buddies from coast to coast.
Gameplay: The game to me has improved on many levels. With new enemies with better AI, they don't just stand there waiting to get killed. Along with the same layout has Halo 1&2, 3 is pretty much the same (point, shoot, cover), but you have more areas to get creative with new content. Halo3 gameplay was given a polished look and finish and even though it can feel old at times, it's really all about finishing the fight and finding out the storyline.
Graphics: I was quit surprised to see how clean and detailed the graphics were on my regular TV. Bungie really went to attention to detail and left nothing out. I have a 24' HDTV but with no speakers so I have to resort to my older TV, but if Halo3 looks as good as it does on regular, I can only image what it would look like HD.
New Content: Who doesn't like new content? Halo3 has more to offer then ever. There is new equipment to help you defeat your foes when it gets rough. New guns, new fighting tactics, its awesome.
Overall: I gave this 4 stars out of 5 because the gameplay feels the same in certain parts of the game, but with the graphics and new content I can easily get over it. Only reason why I got an Xbox 360 was for Halo3, since I found out there was no plans to start working on a PC version of Halo and I didn't want to wait long to play.
Advice: Don't play Halo 3 until you played Halo 1&2, get familar with the storyline and controls, otherwise this game won't be "the hype" you expected. Remember, when Halo first came out, there was mixed reviews, playing Halo 3 first is no exception.