Hmm...I wonder what my 14-year old, shooter-hating self would say if he saw that I reviewed a "Halo" game and rated it a 10 out of 10. He'd probably be a bit baffled, to say the least. Yes, I am coming right out and saying my score, only because it contributes to my own experiences: I've spoken at length about how it took me a while to come around on first-person shooters, and while I've respected the "Halo" series from afar (and definitely enjoyed the first two titles, of which I rated an 8 and a 9), I found that perhaps I wasn't one to fawn over the series like everyone else. Make no mistake, the first two games were revolutionary for their time, and they still hold up well to this day, but they just didn't quite have that unexplainable "something" that I've always said can earn a game a 10 out of 10 score. That is, until we got to this game, at least.
"Halo 3" is the pinnacle of the "Halo" series: it has the fast-paced and fluid mechanics and controls that we've come to expect out of the series, but it also succeeds by easily having the most polished gameplay. As a largely single-player gamer that enjoys campaigns a bit more than multiplayer, I've always felt that the first two titles had some minor annoyances that held them back a bit (things like bad vehicle controls, bland and semi-repetitive level design), but with this game, those annoyances were basically not even there. The vehicles felt far better, the levels never felt bland or repetitive, and there was plenty of content and replayability in the campaign. There are also several new modes and features like the Forge level editor and replay saves that give the game some extra flavor, the visuals still hold up marvelously to this day, the voice acting is rock solid and the music is really something to behold. "Halo" has always had incredible music, but "Halo 3" really gives you some of the best to come from this venerable series. Furthermore, the story also does a nice job closing out the trilogy while giving some room to wonder what will come next from the series.
I honestly just can't really complain about anything, "Halo 3" is an absolutely exceptional shooter that never stales out, and beyond being the pinnacle of its series (and perhaps the pinnacle of the Xbox 360 in general_, it may even come close to being the pinnacle of the first-person shooter genre. For how expansive, polished, and exciting it is, "Halo 3" delivers on all fronts, and is an experience that absolutely deserves all of the praise it's received. If you haven't gotten to play this yet...well, I don't know what you're waiting for, go do it!
Final rating: 10 out of 10 "Fantastic"