9.5

The same unique style that made the first two games stand out comes full throttle in the final installment.

If you haven't heard, Halo 3, arguably one of the most important game-releases to date has arrived. Returning with Halo 3 is more of the same, which is in no way a bad thing. Anyone who has played either of the first two games will feel immediately at home with the control setups, visual style, and overall presentation to the game. Everything you'd expect from a major release title like this is in tact: beautiful, immersive environments that will leave you breathless, amazing sound effects, and game play that will always bring you back for more. Depending on what your forte is there are many things to do in Halo 3. If single player is what your interested in you'll find plenty of adventure (and challenge) in the campaign mode. It offers four difficulties, legendary being the most difficult, but all of them will leave you feeling satisfied once it's all over. Enemy AI is solid in all four variations. Aside from the Grunts (the lowest form of baddie) no enemy is an easy kill. Even the most seasoned Halo veteran will find it hard to overcome some of the impossible odds that will challenge their skills in Legendary mode. The campaign, which lasts around 15-20 hours, will provide you with enough "Oh **** moments to keep you coming back for more even after you've beaten it.

In addition to the normal campaign mode theres an added 'Online Campaign' feature where you and (up to) three others can take on the epic story-mode. This adds a competitive feel to the standard game with scores and medals for accuracy, kills, and detractions for death.

If you're a multi-player aficionado then online mode is where you will feel home. There are an assortment of games to play; everything from Capture the Flag to territories is available to choose from if you so please. If you're someone who doesn't like those kind of games, there's the more classical 'Whoever kills the most wins' type of match. These are all available to play with either teams or independently through the use of Xbox's live matchmaking system which ranks you with players of your skill level based on previous games. This brings about one of the games downfalls: the online community. The online scene is littered with pre/post pubescent whiners that curse, drop racial slurs, and do nothing but talk trash the entire duration of any lobby moments. Sometimes you'll be lucky enough to get one on your team and if you're doing poorly, they'll surely let you know. While this may seem a little harsh and more of a chance encounter, once you arrive online you'll find out that 90% of your games will be with or against players like this. Sometimes it's funny, but if you're someone who just wants to enjoy themselves then it's an extremely unneeded hindrance from enjoyable gaming. Gameplay aside there's a lot of customization to be done. First and foremost you'll want to decide whether or not you want to be a Spartan or Covenant Elite. Then you'll want to pick your unlockable armor types and customize your own personal emblem. Through the use of the games 'Forge' editor you can make some serious modifications to any of your favorite maps, then invite your friends to play on them with you. If that wasn't enough you can use the games 'Theater' to view previous games from anyones perspective with fully rotational cameras capable of taking screenshots that can be sent to your computer. It's an unneeded one, but a very nice touch nonetheless.

Minor griping about the length of the game aside, Halo 3 comes out on top in terms of enjoyment and replay values. There are so many things to do once you load up the game you will have a tough time deciding where to even begin. That's an amazing thing to come across in todays games where you usually just goto one point, then to another. A game with this much depth brings a lot to the table right off the bat. With promises from Bungie with more to come in the future in the form of online updates and added content, theres no reason to miss this years biggest game and the ending to one of this generations most successful franchises.

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