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Snacko
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My reviews are generally positive, mostly because I tend to review games that aren't given a fair shake and are worth checking out. Yes, I'm saying that I am giving a more negative review of the critical darling "Halo 3" which I see as a victory for ignorance, fanboyism and general laziness.

I'm not the kind of person to go on a negative rant about a game just because I don't like it. I believe that Soul Calibur's lack of depth makes it accessible and possibly even fun for newbies and World of Warcraft has a great community and I am aware that (for some reason) people tend to enjoy mindless grinding. It works the other way too, I enjoy Assassin's Creed for example, but see how with extended play the game can get incredibly repetitive. Much like how a critic can appreciate Finnegans Wake for a revolution in stream-of-consciousness style, agree that the plot is brilliant and unique with poignant surreal symbolism and still get a headache whenever they read a paragraph.

Halo, on the other hand, has always been a mystery to me. A more primitive game than even Quake II in many ways, Halo's unbalanced weapons, uninspired campaign and antiquated multiplayer sold millions of Xboxes. Its sequel was even less balanced and sold even better.

Halo 3's problem isn't that it does anything wrong beyond what Halo 2 did, it just didn't do anything else. Halo 3 feels like a Halo 2 expansion pack and even some of the new features only highlight how far behind the curve the series is.

Take "The Forge" mode for example, it is billed as a level editor, but it doesn't actually let you edit levels. All it does is let you use a clunky interface to place random stuff down on existing levels. The objects aren't even things like ramps and buildings, these are boxes, weapons and vehicles. I acknowledge that you can spice some old maps with this but, damn, even Doom had a level editor less than a year after its release.

The single player exists but really doesn't serve any purpose but to fill in a feature that was expected. The plot is incomprehensible unless you're incredibly familiar with Halo lore and even then it is an entirely generic science fiction story. The AI is still the same as 2 meaning that it certainly isn't bad for a console game, but doesn't really shine through any other perspective. The same can be said about the level design, it isn't good but there isn't anything aggressively bad about it either. The campaign is boring whether you go at it alone or with a group of friends, and that doesn't seem to be the intended effect.

Multiplayer is marginally more fun, but also marginally more flawed. If you liked Halo 2's multiplayer, you'll like this and, as a whole, I'd have to say the level design is better and the mode editors are more robust than Halo 2, but everything plays and looks pretty much the same. The real downer is the weapon balance which is so bad that late in Halo 2's life, Bungie added a mode that omitted over half of the weapons. I know that in real life an SMG would rarely beat a vaporizing laser, but that is no excuse for making the game more about getting the right weapons than playing well.

The online systems and organization, just like 2, are top-notch. The party system that should be a requisite in every online game makes a return with some more updates, you can upload and download videos, Forge "levels" and game modes to your 360 and the matchmaking does a good job of pairing you up with those around your skill level. One notable quirk that carries over from 2 however is that you can't choose exactly what type of mode you want to play unless you are the host of a custom game nor can you search for custom games through the matchmaking service.

What really is astounding however is that Halo 3 still is such a primitive shooter. There are no leans, sprints, iron sights, modifications, cover systems, recoil or environmental interaction hotspots, many of which became standard in the genre before Halo 1. I know console fans adore this game, but I really can't understand why.

This isn't a rag on the Xbox 360 which I think is a fantastic system with a lot of fantastic games and is the technically superior system, but its most well known game is not a good one.

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05-31-2008 at 03:07 AM
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NiroZ
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From what I've heard (never really getting into the game) is that the social aspect isn't perfect either.

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05-31-2008 at 07:09 AM
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b0rsuk
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Sounds like a fittingly primitive game for a primitive gaming system.

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05-31-2008 at 02:17 PM
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mrimer
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Each time one of the new games came out, I've looked at the multi-player aspect of Halo in particular, since that seems what it is most highly touted for. And, really, I don't see how the play goes much beyond something like Quake II, as you say. I really don't see what the draw is. A million players really run around doing this for days and weeks on end? Fire me up a good match of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory any day.

My guess is that having an iconic protagonist gets the game noticed, just like Mario or Link (etc) in their respective franchises. I'd write this off as basically "gimmick".

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[Last edited by mrimer at 05-31-2008 03:35 PM]
05-31-2008 at 03:35 PM
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NiroZ
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Writing off the Nintendo and Halo franchise in one broad sweep. Impressive.

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05-31-2008 at 04:02 PM
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mrimer
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Aw, man...I'm not trying to be that critical. :) Credit should be given where credit is due.

However, I'm sure you'll agree that if Caravel starts putting Beethro in match-3 or golf games, we're talking iconic gimmick by this point.

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05-31-2008 at 04:44 PM
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NiroZ
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Well actually it is more about the Pepsi effect, but I suppose iconic gimmick is another phrase for it.

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05-31-2008 at 06:58 PM
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Beef Row
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Man, now I wanna see a Master Chief plays drunken billiards 'wacky sports title'. That and Mario Yoshi Polo.

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06-01-2008 at 06:06 AM
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coppro
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I agree that Halo 3 isn't a great game. But it's actually pretty high on my list of FPSes because it's simple and straighforward - a lot of modern shooters IMO aren't as fun because they are overly complex (COD4 is a great example of this I think). When I play an FPS it's not because I want to think - we have RTSes and board games for that.
06-02-2008 at 04:27 AM
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Snacko
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CoD4, is too...complex?

What does it have beyond Quake II? Sprints, leans and a good single player campaign?

I see someone needs to brush up on their R6.

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06-02-2008 at 04:39 AM
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NiroZ
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quote:
coppro wrote:
I agree that Halo 3 isn't a great game. But it's actually pretty high on my list of FPSes because it's simple and straighforward - a lot of modern shooters IMO aren't as fun because they are overly complex (COD4 is a great example of this I think). When I play an FPS it's not because I want to think - we have RTSes and board games for that.
In that case, wouldn't games like painkiller's, doom's, serious sam's trump it? I also considered the larger part of COD's to be gallery shooters, or virtual wackamoles.

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[Last edited by NiroZ at 06-02-2008 05:01 AM]
06-02-2008 at 04:54 AM
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Snacko
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b0rsuk wrote:
Sounds like a fittingly primitive game for a primitive gaming system.


The 360 is easily the most advanced console to be released. In power it trumps the PS3 by the power of two DVD drives, the DVD format is much faster than Blu-Ray, the online features are second to none and are available for about $5 a month, the game library is huge considering how new a system it is and, well, I don't like to point out specifics but this is important, we get at least three more islands in GTAIV than PS3 owners.

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06-02-2008 at 05:37 AM
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vittro
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quote:
Snacko wrote:
quote:
b0rsuk wrote:
Sounds like a fittingly primitive game for a primitive gaming system.


The 360 is easily the most advanced console to be released. In power it trumps the PS3 by the power of two DVD drives, the DVD format is much faster than Blu-Ray, the online features are second to none and are available for about $5 a month, the game library is huge considering how new a system it is and, well, I don't like to point out specifics but this is important, we get at least three more islands in GTAIV than PS3 owners.


Yesh, but PS3's specs are better, so more power. Also, Blu-Ray may be slower but it can cointain more hi-def content of the game.

Also online is free, just plug it to your adsl and play. This is 20 thumbs up for Sony.

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06-02-2008 at 12:52 PM
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06-02-2008 at 02:41 PM
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b0rsuk
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When I said 'primitive', I meant that the platform focuses on primitive games. A lot of people, myself included, perceive consoles as simple toys. Among PC players, words "console" and "dumbed down" often go together. Consoles have reputation of stereothypical dumb blondes.

Totally unscientific comparison: current games from the list on metacritic.com:

PC: 8x strategy (RTS and TBS combined), 0 puzzle, 5 RPG, 10 adventure. The rest is action, 2 simulations, and misc stuff.
360: 1 strategy, 1 puzzle, 0 rpg, 0 simulation, 7 adventure.
ps3: 5 adventure, 0 strategy, 1 puzzle, 0 rpg, 0 simulation
wii: 3 simulation, 9 adventure, 3 puzzle, 1 strategy, 3 RPG

The tests were performed with Iceweasel (a.k.a. Firefox) and CTRL-F .

Add to this various communities, message boards, modding, websites etc... Even if you use PC 'just for games' and fun, PC is much more thought-provoking device than consoles. I don't deny that simple games can be fun, but I couldn't play simple games all the time.

There's clearly correlation between game depth and platform. Part of it is due to control scheme (mouse+keyboard vs controller) but there's more than that. A person who is scared of occasionally having to tweak something to make his PC work is less likely to crave mental challenges.

I'm somewhat surprised to hear mrimer plays W:ET . The only reason I no longer play Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory is that I played it so much I'm absolutely fed up with it. Speaking of FPS games, I heard COD4 multiplayer strategy consists of finding a corner/choke point (a defensive position in general) and shooting whoever comes by. I also heard the maps are VERY small and chaotic. It's certainly not a game I'd call complex. If you want a complex FPS, play Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. 2-3 people working together on the same team is enough to make the team win. Average (aim-wise) team working together, using VOIP can beat a team of rambos.

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[Last edited by b0rsuk at 06-02-2008 04:38 PM]
06-02-2008 at 04:32 PM
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NiroZ
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quote:
b0rsuk wrote:Speaking of FPS games, I heard COD4 multiplayer strategy consists of finding a corner/choke point (a defensive position in general) and shooting whoever comes by. I also heard the maps are VERY small and chaotic. It's certainly not a game I'd call complex. If you want a complex FPS, play Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. 2-3 people working together on the same team is enough to make the team win. Average (aim-wise) team working together, using VOIP can beat a team of rambos.
On the contrary, camping, thanks to grenade spam, is a very bad idea. There is one map, which was most likely designed for 2-3 players, where it can get very chaotic on public servers, but I'm actually glad they included such a map for when I have a friend over. The level of chaos really depends on the number of players/size of the map. To say it is chaotic is a vast generalisation.

Then again, I found the grind starting to get tedious by lvl 20, which is where I gave up.

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06-02-2008 at 11:13 PM
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coppro
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quote:
Snacko wrote:
CoD4, is too...complex?

What does it have beyond Quake II? Sprints, leans and a good single player campaign?

I see someone needs to brush up on their R6.
It's nice to be able to simply kill someone without worrying about them dropping a grenade or shooting a pistol at you.
06-04-2008 at 01:17 AM
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