Xbox 360 Game Reviews

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"Halo 3"


I'll admit--it's a bit premature to review a game based on two days' worth of gameplay.  But, since I DID take Tuesday off to buy this game and play it all day long, I think I can safely pass along some details about this landmark game:

1.  The single player version of "Halo 3" is NOT all that and a bag of chips.

Plaguing this game so far is the simple fact that if you have played "Gears of War" and "Bioshock", you have played a much more original, much better paced, and in many cases, much better looking single player game than "Halo 3."  Through four levels, "Halo 3" has many of the problems that plagued the single-player version of "Halo" and "Halo 2", most notably that the levels feel like they were designed in a vacuum, with some elements happening over and over and over again.  (Run to the end of the map!  Kill five Brutes!  Run back to the other end of the map!  Kill three Brutes and two snipers!)  The other main issue?  No matter the difficulty, your partner through the early levels, The Arbiter (who was playable in "Halo 2") absolutely sucks at covering your back.  Luckily, you can play "Halo 3" in the campaign with three friends, but playing alone really, really blows.

2.  The multiplayer version of "Halo 3" is really good, but...'s got a couple of problems.  First, even starting a match has been quite painful at times in bad?  My buddy Ross and I routinely waited 6-8 minutes to get into a new game.  In three years of playing "Halo 2", this NEVER happened.  Once in, I haven't played in a sixteen-player battle yet, which is a bit disappointing, but not a dealbreaker.  I love the ranking system, I love the party system, I love the MVP system, I love the small team battle maps and I love the weapon set (save for the laser, which is cheap and which blows).  However, only 11 maps for The Biggest Media Release of All Time is a little weak, given that the guys at Bungie (who developed the game) could have just included the four best maps from the last two "Halo" games and we would have had almost 20 maps right there.  Oh, and one more thing--the Veto function is already showing itself to be a problem, as players are already vetoing maps after the game has been out for, oh, two fucking days.

3.  Gameplay mechanics are definitely better, and the graphics on a high-def TV rock it out.

Grenade tosses?  Finally, this is perfect.  Reload buttons for individual weapons in either hand?  Brilliant.  Weapon balance and variety?  Beautiful.  Controls just feel a bit tighter this go-round; the jump is higher than I remember in "Halo 2".  And while this doesn't look as good as those two other Xbox 360 games I mentioned earlier, "Halo 3" is a very close second place finisher.

4.  The replay tool is quite simply the greatest thing on the Xbox 360, period.

The first time you use this, you will know exactly what I'm talking about.  I can't imagine the processing power this requires, but being able to move a free camera around a just-completed game to see what every character does for every second of a ten-minute game from any angle is just flat-out cool.

Yeah, it's early, but "Halo 3" just isn't as good as I was hoping.  It will age well, though, because if "Halo 2" is any indication, "Halo 3" will be relevant until at least 2010.  If you get on, dial me up; my player ID is...Bacon Party.

Rating:  $40


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09