(Reggie Beehner)

By

Matt Cox
The Eastern Progress“Halo 3,” perhaps the most anticipated game in history, has finally come. And, in my opinion, it was well worth the wait. I don’t even regret sitting around at Wal-Mart for four hours with the nerdiest of the nerds to be one of the first to play it.

The Campaign mode, which I’m sure a few of you out there haven’t even touched yet, feels just as epic as one would expect after the cliffhanger ending of “Halo 2.” From the first shot to the last, it propels you with a terrific story and top-notch action. But, sadly, it is a little on the short side; an average gamer will take about 10 hours to complete it.

The graphics really shine in some segments of the campaign, and while they may not be as good as other games out there, such as “Gears of War,” they get the job done and done well. I dare you to try to play “Halo 2” after seeing this in action and keep your eyes from bleeding. There are some slight, slow-down issues when the action gets way out of hand, but they’re minor and don’t take away from the experience.

The bar was set with “Halo 2” online multi-player. Many games have tried to do it as well, but few have even come close. Not a whole lot has changed in this sequel, but you know what they say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. There are a few tweaks and changes, such as Bungie added the ability to veto the game and map if the majority of players don’t want to play it. This will help cut down on playing the same game consecutively and on the unpopular modes and maps.

The new weapons are fun and functional, while some older weapons have been rendered nearly useless, such as the pistol. I think if you could throw the pistol at someone, it would be more effective. But you can’t, so avoid it.

One of the new weapons, the Spartan Laser, is quickly becoming one of my favorites. A “Halo” fan will find no greater pleasure than taking out a fully loaded Warthog with its red blast of carnage.

For all those people out there who have tried to describe some sweet moves they once made in the last seconds of a capture-the-flag game and been met with nothing but blank stares, you now have something to back up those claims with. “Halo 3” includes a feature that saves a video of your last 25 games. These can then permanently be saved and then you can drag all of your uninterested friends over and force them to watch these videos over and over from every angle you can think of.

“Halo 3” also includes a map editor called Forge. You can place guns and objects wherever you want on the map, but this in not a true map editor. You can’t create your own map from scratch; you must use one of the pre-existing maps as your template.

Overall, this is a great installment to a series that has stolen social lives and pushed people to the limit of class attendance policies.

Josh Kegley
The Eastern Progress

Where was I on Sept. 23 at midnight? Meijer.

I had a pre-order for “Halo 3” at Gamestop, but as I drove past the Fayette Mall and saw the mass of people (I’m talking 200-300 smelly nerds) sitting outside, waiting for the doors to open for the midnight release, I said forget it. That $5 pre-order wasn’t worth the wait.

I drove to Meijer, was fifth in line, and was home playing at 12:10 a.m. while the Gamestop crowd was still biting and clawing for a place in line. I’ve been playing nearly nonstop since.

It’s just that good. But you don’t need me to tell you that. If you’ve made it this far into the article, chances are you were one of the nerds munching on one another that fateful Monday night. And, if for some reason you don’t

already have the game, you’ve for sure read about all the neat new features such as Forge mode, customizable armor and all the bitchin’ new weapons and vehicles.

For me, the draw for the “Halo” games classically has been the single-player story mode. “Halo 3” does everything in its power to change that. The following are some new multiplayer additions that have pulled me into the world of online gaming. This is all stuff I haven’t read too much about in other reviews, so check it out. Maybe you’ll learn something.

There’s cover everywhere. In every map, there’s a place to hide and draw your enemy to you rather than wait around to get sniped or killed by the plasma pistol/battle rifle combo. If you’re like me, you’re basically Barney Fife when it comes to handling long-range weapons. Finally, those of us from the “spray-n-pray” school of gunplay have a fighting chance. On the negative side, if you’re solely a long-range player, prepare to die a little more often and forgive me for saying you deserve it. Cheap ass.

When you die, you have the option to pan the camera around to view your surroundings at your time of death. This gives you the ability to re-spawn with added info for your teammates such as, “The dude that killed me is coming up the service ramp! Nuke him!”

Proximity voice has been disabled. Actually, I don’t know that it’s been disabled completely, but it has been downplayed quite a bit. In games with fewer than eight players, you can hear your teammates all the time and you very rarely hear your opponents. This means even though that 12-year-old may be beating you in kills, at least you won’t have to hear him screaming at his mother in the other room to please feed his hamster.

The weapons are extremely balanced this time around. Don’t get me wrong; there are some really overpowered weapons, such as the Spartan Laser. But they’re harder to use than in previous games. When you get owned by the laser, the rocket launcher or the plasma sword, this time around you can take some comfort in the fact that it took honest-to-God skill on the wielder’s part.

Story mode is great, too. The game play feels closer to Halo 1 than Halo 2, which is a good thing. And the ending does not disappoint. Don’t forget to keep watching until after the credits are done rolling. The ending before the credits is satisfying. The extra scene after the credits is awe-inspiring.

If you haven’t picked up “Halo 3” yet, do it. If you’ve never played “Halo” before, start with this one. It’s the most accessible the series has ever been. Your productivity will suffer, but you will be one happy shotgun camper.

Joe Montgomery
The Eastern Progress

Looking forward to the moment for a week since its release, I finally sat down in front of my big screen TV with a bag of Cheetos, a box of Teddy Grahams and a couple of Ale-8s for a whole night of playing “Halo 3.”

For nearly eight hours straight, I played the Campaign, and level after level I wanted more. Starting off seeing two fireballs falling out of the atmosphere and crashing in the jungle, the first level sets you up right away for some high-level action and a brute-killing good time. But things have changed from previous “Halos,” and trust me; in this case, change was good.

The game combined elements from “Halo” and “Halo 2.” It brought back little touches such as the meter marker that guided you to your next destination in “Halo.” It also featured some great weapons that we missed from the first “Halo,” kept those that we loved from “Halo 2,” and introduced some new arsenals original to “Halo 3.”

In the third level, you get the chance to drive some new vehicles. There’s Brute Chopper, a two-wheeled menace that rips apart anyone its way; the Mongoose, a small ATV vehicle great for running through a group of Covenant you’d rather not fight; plus all the originals, such as the Warthog and the Ghost.

The rhythmic, general ebb and flow of combat were reminiscent of past “Halo” g
ames. In the second level, the Human base gets invaded and you must fight off the intrusion, a common occurrence that I would have thought the Humans by this point in the “Halo” story could prevent.

The third level is vehicle-based, giving you the chance to crush, burn and splatter all in your path. Each level gets harder and more complex as you blast your way through the game.

“Halo 3’s” story, the sublevel foundation for the game, is very well done. It plays out almost as well as a movie at times, with humor, action and beautiful images. It’s a fight for the humans in an attempt to defend the over-populated Earth from being destroyed by a religious sect named the Covenant. All hopes lie on a single Spartan Warrior named Master Chief to destroy the Covenant plot to use a super weapon (The Halo rings) from annihilating all mankind. Despite the fact that the campaign mode is designed for single-player action, don’t feel lonely. “Halo 3” now lets up to four friends join you in your rampage. The more the merrier, I say. So call your friends, gather your favorite snacks and call “shotgun” for the most comfortable seats. Because once you start playing, you won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

(Submitted Photo)