The wait is almost over. Halo 3, the third and final installment in the first-person shooter trilogy, releases in two weeks. Below, weâ€™ve outlined some of the top reasons you should get excited for the Xbox 360â€™s biggest game of the year.
Itâ€™s Going to Have a Real Endingâ€¦ We Hope
Weâ€™re not going to rag on Halo 2â€™s cliffhanger ending, as thatâ€™s been done hundreds of times over the last three years. Instead, weâ€™re taking an optimistic approach here: Halo 3 is finally going to wrap up the Halo storyline. Halo 2 left us all wanting to know what was going to happen to Earth, Master Chief, the remaining Halos, the Arbiter, the Covenant and the Brutes, among other things. So many questions remain in regards to the Ark, the Forerunners, Earthâ€™s fate and the Chiefâ€™s fate. Halo 3, we expect, will answer these and more. We hope.
The first time we played Halo: Combat Evolved co-operatively six years ago, we thought, â€œDamn, itâ€™d be awesome to play co-op with four people.â€ Leading up to the release of Halo 2, we, as well as many others, expected the game would support four-player co-operative play. Unfortunately, time restrains kept Bungie from including such a mode. Thankfully, though, the studio is shipping Halo 3 with not only four-player co-op but four-player co-op over Xbox Live, to boot. Two-player Halo is always a blast, so shouldnâ€™t four-player co-op be twist the blast? We think so.
The Multiplayer Will Rule Xbox Live
Thousands already had a chance to experience the upgraded multiplayer in Halo 3 this summer and see for themselves exactly why itâ€™s so awesome. While the multiplayer isnâ€™t radically different from Halo 2â€™s, this much is for sure: itâ€™s a big improvement. The developer has re-worked weapon balance so that just about every weapon is worth using. Dual wielding now has a stable existence in multiplayer â€“ itâ€™s not the name-of-the-game, but itâ€™s not useless, either. Everything about Halo 3â€™s multiplayer feels improved over Halo 2â€™s. From what weâ€™ve played, it feels like the multiplayer of Halo 2, only more polished and done â€œrightâ€ â€“ the way its creator originally wanted it to be. Now that Bungieâ€™s had the kind of time it needs to pull it off, weâ€™re getting that experience.
The New Equipment
When Bungie first unveiled the concept of deployable items and equipment, like the bubble shield, a lot of people were skeptical. We admit even a few of us werenâ€™t too sure of Bungieâ€™s new scheme. However, turns out, the team knows what itâ€™s doing. Deployable items like the bubble shield and gravity lift spiced things up in the multiplayer beta we played this summer, and new equipment like the flare, portable shield generator and radar jammer look to be nothing but great additions to the arsenal.
Perhaps one of the coolest new features in Halo 3 is â€œThe Forge.â€ The separate multiplayer mode lets you edit weapon placement, spawn points, vehicles and more in real-time during the middle of multiplayer matches. While editing levels on the fly, youâ€™ll take on the shape of a monitor (think Guilty Spark from Halo: Combat Evolved), so youâ€™ll still be vulnerable to attacks from other players, and thus youâ€™ll have to play smart and carefully. Even cooler, you can create your own power-ups and place them anywhere you want. For instance, if you want to assign attributes to a power-up that lets you kill in a single shot and move at five times the speed you normally do, you can do it. Indeed, â€œThe Forgeâ€ is awesome and will change the way we play Halo forever.
Saved Films is a Halo 3 feature that was once planned for Halo 2. Much like with four-player co-op, Bungie was unable to implement Saved Films in Halo 2, however. Instead, weâ€™re getting a much more advanced version of the feature in the third and final Halo title. You are able to save entire matches to your Xbox 360â€™s hard drive using the Saved Films feature. However, the file that is saved is not that of a movie file. Instead, Halo 3 saves the actual game code, so that when you watch the replay, the game is actually being replayed second-by-second the way it originally happened right before your very own eyes. This keeps file sizes small (lengthy matches clock in at about 6MB), thus they can easily be shared over Xbox Live. While watching Saved Films, you can manipulate the camera and watch from any angle you prefer â€“ whether itâ€™s in first-person or via free-roaming third-person. Additionally, you can slow down the replay, speed it up and take pictures whenever you want.
Meta-game: Scores in Campaign
If youâ€™re the kind of gamer who loves to replay single-player campaigns â€“ either in single-player or co-op â€“ youâ€™re going to love the meta-game option in Halo 3. Essentially, once enabled, you will earn points, which will go towards your overall â€œscoreâ€ in the game. Points are awarded for playing well, getting kills, performing stylish kills, such as headshots, and so forth. And because the mode is available in co-op play, Halo 3 will mix elements of cooperative play with competitive play, as youâ€™ll have to work together with each other to progress, but simultaneously, youâ€™ll want to have the highest score.
Halo 3 lets you share saved films, screenshots of your games, custom Forge settings and custom gametypes by simply uploading these things to a save slot on your Gamertag, at which point each becomes accessible to players on your friends list. Your friends can then download the data to their own Xbox 360s. Whatâ€™s more, youâ€™re able to upload all these things directly to a Bungie server, which will make the content available to your friends even when youâ€™re offline. In other words, you can now easily share all those no-scope clips and running riots with your friends directly over Xbox Live. How awesome is that?
Did we miss anything? Let us know below!