Editor's ChoiceThe Master Chief is back, and he is better than ever. Bungie has brought back everything you loved about the original Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, with extra features that make this one of the most superb first-person shooters ever.

Campaign mode follows the continued story of the Master Chief. The earth environments are well done, sharp and detailed. Enemy creatures like “grunts” steal the show with their humorous one-liners, while “brutes” and other covenant creatures are sure to show you a great fight.

Later you will have another encounter with the flood — the swarm of bug-like enemies — that are sure to challenge your rapid-fire abilities. New weapons are available like the double shotgun action of the Mauler, the Gravity Hammer and the Spartan Laser. New vehicles including the Hornet, which is the human equivalent to the fast-moving Covenant Banshee aircraft, and a new chopper, provide great depth and new means of travel and destruction.

The same four difficulty levels are there to choose from, each one giving you an individual Xbox achievement. Easy, Normal, and Heroic are great fun and great to play through, while the Legendary mode introduces you into a whole new level of difficulty. Luckily for you, four-player cooperative play is available, and it never gets old to beat this game with your buddies. Halo 3 provides the same depth of plug-and-play multiplayer that made the game franchise so successful.

Throughout the game there are hidden Easter Eggs known as “skulls.” Each unlocks its own special effect. Silver and gold skulls do everything from achievement points, to making the grunts heads explode with confetti.

Two new features introduced in this game are the Forge and the Theater. The Forge is where you can modify weapons and vehicles. This feature makes it so that your custom games really become customized.

How far can we go with forge mode? Obviously you cannot fill up the map with Scorpion Tanks and Banshees. Each map has a certain amount of “money,” and by erasing some things on the map you can add new things. Your friends will never figure out your side of the map has the powerful sniper rifles and shotguns, while they are left with the less than impressive plasma pistols and the magnum.

Enter theater mode. Have you ever said to yourself, “What a shot! I wish I could see that again!” Now you can. Actually, you can see every shot; from every perspective; from every angle. The last 25 campaign or multiplayer games you have played can now be re-watched, saved and sent to your friends on Xbox Live. Using this new feature, you can find ways to make these maps really work to your advantage and develop new strategies.

And of course, the online play in Halo always wins over the hearts of many. Matchmaking allows you to play a various array of ranked and social matches. In ranked matches you build up a score as you win matches.

Slayer mode is still there, and it’s always a favorite. There are a few new slayer modes like “Shotty Snipers” — a match where your long range and close range skills are challenged and “Team Swords,” which tests your timing and speed.

If you don’t feel like slayer, there are many skirmish games to choose from such as a returning favorite; “Capture the Flag."

The new additions to multiplayer are endless. Players can also veto a map and a set of rules they don’t like. If a majority of players press the veto button, then a new map and rules get picked. There’s also a new badges feature, taking you through the ranks from private to general. Once again you have the choice of whether to make your online character a Spartan or an Elite of the alien-type race. By playing the campaign mode, new armors and new helmets are available to unlock and use in multiplayer.

In a final new and impressive addition, Bungie.net now records your game statistics along with your most commonly used weapon. This feature is especially intriguing because it records your entire gaming history on Halo 3, featuring full statistics of everyone in the game.

Halo 3 epitomizes what a great first person shooter should be. A great storyline meets great graphics and online play. You will not be disappointed at all by this chapter in the halo trilogy.

Quick hits:

Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: First-person shooter
Players: 1-4 local, up to 32 on Xbox Live
Launch Date: September 25, 2007

Playability: [rating:5/5]
Learning Curve: [rating:5/5]
Sound: [rating:5/5]
Graphics: [rating:4.5]
Overall: [rating:5/5] Editor’s Choice

About The Author

Rick Fisk is a Blast Magazine staff writer

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