Microsoft Halo 3
- It's everything that we've all been hoping and waiting for. A flawless shooter in every way.
- Some of the graphics are occasionally ropey, slightly short single-player campaign.
Halo 3 is going to sell a gazillion copies regardless of what we say. It's therefore just as well that the game fully deserves its phenomenal sales -- one of the best shooters we have ever seen, period.
Price$ 99.95 (AUD)
I'm going to skip the standard multiplayer for now and jump to the gametype and level editor called Forge in Halo 3. Up to eight players at a time can enter this mode and work together on a custom multiplayer map, similar to Sony's LittleBigPlanet. Shenanigans are guaranteed to ensue, but the creativity that will come out of the Forge is unprecedented. There are hundreds of options to toy with, and literally thousands of combinations.
How it works is players enter one of the pre-built multiplayer maps that come with the game. Sadly there is no blank template, which would have been convenient. All of the master objects, however, can be deleted and replaced. There is a memory currency in the form of U.S. dollars that limits how many units of each object that can be placed in the map. Players hit up on the D-pad to enter "build" mode, which turns the player into a monitor that can fly freely around the map with the same fluid controls as video playback. From here, players can select weapons, vehicles, objects such as crates and ammo supply cases, waypoints, and respawn points from menu subsets. It's really easy and extremely addicting.
I got a taste of what Forge could accomplish after playing a custom gametype named Rocket Race, which was created by Bungie's multiplayer designer, Lars Bakken. In the game, two-man teams race around on vehicles for waypoint domination; the first team to reach ten waypoints is declared the winner. One player acts as the capture-point VIP while the other player acts as the driver. The twist is all the vehicles on Sand Trap, the largest multiplayer map in any Halo game, are replaced with the speedy Mongoose ATV and the waypoints jump around randomly.
But what makes this Forge favorite truly standout is the fact that the VIP sits on the back of the Mongoose with a Rocket Launcher equipped and a 360-degree panorama of the race -- the driver can only look where they're driving. As players converge on the currently highlighted waypoint, the rockets begin to fly, making for one hell of an explosive scene.
Hand of the Creator
This is just a taste of things to come. After playing Rocket Race, I took an hour and whipped up two gametypes of my own. One I named Ghost Race, where everyone is their own VIP and races for waypoints on the Covenant Ghost. The other was Hornet's Nest, where two teams of three battle for waypoint domination in the sky using the Hornet, the UNSC equivalent to the Covenant Banshee. For this I had to set the waypoints in the sky, which is entirely possible within the Forge. In fact, you can make any object float in midair in Forge. For an in-depth How-to on Forge editing, check out Bungie's Forge Editing Guide.
Let's move on to Halo 3's film and screenshot sharing options, something that I feel is a feature that truly helps define the current generation of gaming. Now that eye-popping graphics are the norm, it's features like these that really sets a game apart from the status quo. In Halo 3, players can save both their single-player campaign and multiplayer experiences, store them to the Xbox 360 hard drive, take screenshots, and share them with friends via a service dubbed the Theater. For example, say you Spartan Lasered your way through four players with a single shot. First, save the replay because that's quite an achievement. Then, replay the film, edit those few seconds of glory into a short clip and send it to the poor chaps you toasted. As if getting tea bagging weren't humiliating enough, now you can watch your corpse getting humped in slow motion, over and over again.
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