If you prefer to play against others, you definitely won’t be disappointed, with a host of different options including old favourites like deathmatch and capture the flag. You earn rankings as you play through matches – this allows Xbox Live to match players of similar skill levels in open play. You can of course create matches solely for your own friends, after all, it’s always more satisfying to kill someone you know.
Talking of wasting your mates, there’s a great new feature in Halo 3 that will make your gloating all the more sweet. The Halo 3 Saved Films feature records all your battles, allowing you to view them from any angle and even take screen shots. There’s nothing quite sending a buddy a screen grab of you nailing him from a thousand yards with a head shot.
Then you’ve got Forge – probably the most innovative multi-player feature I’ve ever seen in a game. With Forge enabled in a map, players can alter the world around them in real time – objects can be inserted and deleted, weapons and vehicles added, with respawn times altered. Forge adds a whole new dimension to the online angle of Halo 3, allowing the players to come up with far more inventive ways to kill each other!
But without a doubt, the most impressive part of Halo 3’s online experience is just how fast and fluid the gameplay is. This may well be the reason for the somewhat conservative graphics, and once you get caught up in the multi-player madness on Xbox Live, you realise that if this was the compromise that Bungie had to make, it was most definitely the right one.
So, is Halo 3 the best game ever? No, I don’t think so, but it is bloody good. The most obvious comparison will be to last month’s Bioshock, but that is somewhat unfair. Bioshock is a single player only game, which means that far more development time could be spent on the graphics and presentation. It’s also worth remembering that Halo 3 couldn’t really break new ground in the single player campaign, since Bungie had to think about the continuity with the previous two titles – Bioshock was under no such constraints.
One thing’s for sure though, I haven’t enjoyed playing any Xbox 360 game more than Halo 3, whether in single or multiplayer mode, and that just about says it all.
Halo 3 isn’t the ground breaking epic that many had expected it to be, specifically in the visual department. But what you are getting is a well written, well paced and well presented end to the Halo trilogy that should keep any fan very happy. Add to that simply the best console based online gaming experience ever, and it’s clear that Halo 3 represents yet another triumph for the Xbox 360.