Halo 3

Jason Cook

Halo 3 may be the most important video game of all time.

Publisher: Microsoft
Genres: Action
Price: $59.99
Multimedia: Halo 3
Platforms: Xbox 360
Number of players: 1-16
ESRB rating: Mature
Developer: Bungie
US release date: 2007-09-25
Amazon UK affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Developer website

Halo 3 may be the most important video game of all time.

Note that that is "most important," and not "best". Halo 3 is doing something for the video game industry that is far more important and wields far more impact than how good or bad the game is.

The marketing blitz for Halo 3 has bordered on surreal. Mountain Dew cans, NASCAR cars, 7/11 slushies and Burger King french fry wrappers all bear Master Chief's likeness. Even Radio Shack, which doesn't sell video games, is going to carry the title. One would think that Halo 3 was Hollywood's next big blockbuster, not a mere video game. The game has already gone gold prior to release, selling one million copies (via pre-order) in North America alone. Many Halo fans lined up before midnight on Monday just to get the game as early as possible. Halo 3 is -- without doubt or hyperbole -- the single most hyped video game ever. It is probably one of the most hyped media releases ever.

That being said, there is no way a game this built up could live up to the massive expectations put upon it. Anything less than immaculate will in fact be seen as a failure to many.

For those unfamiliar to the series, Halo is a sci-fi action story that takes place in the year 2552. The story revolves around a faceless, futuristic armor-clad hero named Master Chief. The Chief has to save the world from a hive-minded alien race (the Flood) infesting the universe. The plot isn't anything thought provoking, but it does the job of keeping the game interesting and the action flowing. But most people don't play Halo for the compelling plot.

They play it for the frenzied action.

Halo 3 delivers this action through a variety of futuristic, over-the-top gunplay scenarios and vehicular mayhem that all spans gorgeous landscapes. Players will take on a myriad of alien races ranging from the hulking, simian-esque Brutes to the disgusting reanimated corpses that are the Flood.

Classic first-person shooter action...

On a purely aesthetic level, Halo 3 is a stunning game. Pools of water reflect sunlight and respond to steps through them. Trees and grass wave in the wind while enemies and allies alike have detailed facial expressions. It is one of the best looking Xbox 360 games available, probably trailing only Gears of War and Bioshock in terms of sheer visual beauty. The musical score and voice acting is also spot-on, especially for an action title. The orchestral score swells up at appropriately tense moments and takes a back seat when necessary. The voiceover work is particularly well done. Whether it's a nameless marine or Master Chief's sidekick, Cortana, the voice work is consistently solid throughout.

Halo 3 has a copious amount of weaponry at the player's disposal. Standbys such as the sub-machine gun, grenades and shotgun are back, each with a few tweaks in appearance and clip size. New additions such as the Spartan laser (capable of cutting vehicles in half) and the gravity hammer (capable of sending opponents flying) are a blast to play with and will keep Halo 2 veterans on their toes while they learn new tactics to accommodate to the changes.

New to Halo 3 is the equipment. These items won't dish out punishment, but can be invaluable in combat situations. Their effects range from forming a shield around the player that is immune to gunfire (Bubble Shield) to slowly draining enemies' health (Power Drainer). The equipment adds another wrinkle to the game without feeling unfamiliar or forced.

Vehicles in Halo 3 have also received a lot of attention from the developers. The newly added Mongoose (a two-man, four wheeled ATV perfect for capture-the-flag) and Hornet (basically the human version of the Covenant Banshee) are a joy to drive in solo and multiplayer games alike.

Speaking of multiplayer, it has always been the crux of the Halo series. Sure the campaign mode is enjoyable, but the game's value truly surfaces when multiple players are involved. Like its predecessor, Halo 3 supports Xbox Live as well as system link multiplayer, with a ladder system that allows up to 16 players in a single game. The game comes with a number of brand new maps that have been meticulously thought out to stand up to hundreds of thousands of frenetic matches.

...with a few new tricks in tow.

One of the new features of multiplayer is the Theatre. In it you can watch replays of your last two dozen or so games, complete with the ability to pause, fast forward, and slow-motion the action. You can then save screenshots or record miniature clips of something awesome you did and share them with your friends, or better yet, your enemies. There is also a map editor called the Forge in which players can change locations of weapons, vehicles or almost anything else on any of the game's multiplayer maps. Although not a true map creator like those featured in other titles, the Forge is deep enough to keep ambitious players tweaking maps for hours and hours, adding new twists to familiar maps. The Forge also supports Xbox Live, allowing players to share their maps with players around the globe.

It's creative and forward-thinking content like the Forge and the Theatre that separates Halo 3 from other console titles.

Although Halo 3 isn't necessarily the perfect game it was hyped up to be, it is extremely enjoyable and anyone who calls it a failure would be remiss. The single-player campaign is better than Halo 2's and wraps up the trilogy in a definitive and satisfying manner. The multiplayer is superb, as is expected from a Halo title. New additions like the Forge, Theatre and graphical and weapon upgrades solidify this already spectacular franchise as one of gaming's all-time greatest.

Underneath all the hype and marketing lies a truly wonderful action video game. Anyone who bought and played either the original Halo or Halo 2 will thoroughly enjoy Halo 3 for quite some time. Those new to the party, well...this is the reason you've been looking for to buy an Xbox 360.


This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

The World of Captain Beefheart: An Interview with Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx

Gary Lucas and Nona Hendryx (photo © Michael DelSol courtesy of Howlin' Wuelf Media)

Guitarist and band leader Gary Lucas and veteran vocalist Nona Hendryx pay tribute to one of rock's originals in this interview with PopMatters.

From the opening bars of "Suction Prints", we knew we had entered The World of Captain Beefheart and that was exactly where we wanted to be. There it was, that unmistakable fast 'n bulbous sound, the sudden shifts of meter and tempo, the slithery and stinging slide guitar in tandem with propulsive bass, the polyrhythmic drumming giving the music a swing unlike any other rock band.

Keep reading... Show less

From Haircut 100 to his own modern pop stylings, Nick Heyward is loving this new phase of his career, experimenting with genre with the giddy glee of a true pop music nerd.

In 1982, Nick Heyward was a major star in the UK.

As the leader of pop sensations Haircut 100, he found himself loved by every teenage girl in the land. It's easy to see why, as Haircut 100 were a group of chaps so wholesome, they could have stepped from the pages of Lisa Simpson's "Non-Threatening Boys" magazine. They resembled a Benetton knitwear advert and played a type of quirky, pop-funk that propelled them into every transistor radio in Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less

Blending a dazzling array of musical influences and directions for more than two decades now, Thievery Corporation have come to represent one of the 21st century's boldest bands in both genre-blending style and lyrical impact.

The Halloween season is in full effect on this crisp Sunday evening in San Francisco that precedes All Hallows Eve by two days. With the traditional holiday falling on a Tuesday, music fans are out for as much costumed fun as they can get as evidenced by the costumed revelers here at the Masonic in the Nob Hill area. Thievery Corporation is in town, and the Bay Area "thieves" as the band's fans are known are ready to let it all hang out with one of the few bands in the music industry that isn't shy on telling listeners the truth about what's going on in the world.

Keep reading... Show less

Despite the uninspired packaging in this complete series set, Friday Night Lights remains an outstanding TV show; one of the best in the current golden age of television.

There are few series that have earned such universal acclaim as Friday Night Lights (2006-2011). This show unreservedly deserves the praise -- and the well-earned Emmy. Ostensibly about a high school football team in Dillon, Texas—headed by a brand new coach—the series is more about community than sports. Though there's certainly plenty of football-related storylines, the heart of the show is the Taylor family, their personal relationships, and the relationships of those around them.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.