Fight Finished

september 23, 2010

Halo 3Halo launched in 2001, but I did not get to playing and finishing the first Halo until the summer of 2004 (I got a $13 Xbox that summer just to play Halo).  Halo 2 was my Christmas gift from my lovely wife in 2004 (special edition!) and I finished it shortly after in January 2005.  Since 2005, I have been waiting to "Finish the fight", as Master Chief says at the end of Halo 2.

I finished the fight a couple of days ago and have finally had a chance to gather my thoughts about Master Chief's fight. It took me six years to finish the Master Chief trilogy and it was quite a satisfactory ending.  Halo 3 had a lot of brilliance, some lingering annoyances, and one big black spot.

The brilliance first. The graphics, while not as spectacular as current games, are still quite impressive and expansive. The same for the audio. The score by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori is fantastic (again) -- and made even better because this time around they actually got a symphony to work with.  The best thing about Halo 3 is that Master Chief is front and center for the game. This is his game and there's no question about it. The story was also straightforward and the ending was fitting (stay for after the credits finish rolling).

There are some lingering annoyances from previous games. Mainly two: The Flood and backtracking. I hate fighting The Flood! I absolutely hate it. It really breaks down to running backwards and shooting. Backtracking seems to be in Bungie's playbook for game design and the way they use it most of the time in Halo 3 is not really conducive to good game-play. The backtracking in Halo 3 almost seemed like they did it to lengthen out the campaign -- in other words, it kind of sucked going through a level, then having to walk right back through it. 

The big black spot is the level "Cortana" which is quite possibly the worst level ever designed by a big game studio. Not only is the level confusing to get through, but it has The Flood and trying to fight The Flood is near impossible in the level. And on top of all of that, I had to backtrack through the stupid thing. I hated this level and I am sure any person who has played the game will remember (and also hate) this level also. 

While I didn't like playing as The Arbiter for half of Halo 2, I don't think what Bungie did with him in Halo 3 was right -- they completely dropped his storyline and all the interesting ideas raised in Halo 2 by his storyline. All the Arbiter is in Halo 3 is a dumb AI (and I mean this literally as I have seen him run into rooms and stand there and get shot in the face a few times without moving). That did not feel right, even if I did like how Halo 3 was only about Master Chief.

With the mythology that Bungie has created with the Halo trilogy, I am sure this won't be the last Halo game -- and it is not, since we have since gotten Halo Wars, Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach. But, I am glad that this seems to be the last Master Chief game, he deserves it, he fought well. Long live Spartan-117. I hope they don't revive him and I hope they leave him in the mythos as he is.

Bravo to Bungie for Halo 3, I may have been late to finish the fight, but I am sure glad I did.  Awesome game and well-worth playing.