Done and finished, within 1 day of purchasing the game. Now, to finish in Legendary and see if I can't get competitively ranked on XBL.
I'm not going to give out spoilers, don't worry (and don't post any yourself).
The game was very much a close to the story. It wrapped up the loose ends while telling the story much better than Halo 2 did.
On that note, Halo 2 was weak visually, which neither Halo or Halo 3 suffer from. Halo 2 felt more like they were pushing technology than design, and the series fans made that clear. Halo 3, it turns out, looks like a large version of original Halo, with more detailed, expansive environments. Scenes on Earth were handled much better this time around as well.
The highlights? Scarabs, Hornets, and the Elites.
There are three extensive Scarab encounters that feel much more like an RTS than an FPS. The Scarab, if you recall, was a massive Covenant unit that was featured in the second mission of Halo 2 as it crawled through New Mombasa. The encounter was more of a drag than an enjoyable sequence in H2. In Halo 3, all three encounters turn into epic firefights, all three engaged with unique vehicle arrangements.
At some point, someone at Bungie realized they'd never actually included the UNSC counter to the Covenant aerial fighter craft. Here it is. It's a twin-turbine, three man jet that flies much like your epic flying mount, but with heat seeking missiles and a 50mm cannon. With it, you are able to tear nearly anything into pieces (including the massive dropships that used to be invulnerable).
Elites, the race you faced off against in Halo and Halo 2, are now allied with humanity. This isn't a plot giveaway, nor is it a plot giveaway to say that the Flood do enter the story a third time. The scene in particular that was quite engaging occured when the two mixed -- you, the Master Chief, lead a group of Elites through a Flood onslaught. Warm, tingly feelings.
Speaking of the Flood, they've been fleshed out quite a bit more than prior games (no pun intended). They are also just as difficult to deal with as in the prior games, specifically when it comes to weapon rearmaments. The number of times I wound up searching for a weapon, only to wind up swearing at the screen as I pick up a Plasma Pistol, was too many to recall. Being forced to make choices between a Shotgun with 18 rounds and a plasma rifle with 200 is saddening as well.
Favorite weapon? The Gravity Hammer -- or, Stormherald on crack. The first time I used it I thought I had died because of how everything was flying around my screen. You can literally strike a vehicle speeding at you and knock it backwards while destroying it's engine in one swing. I'm not into melee weapons, but found both the Gravity Hammer and Elite Plasma Sword enjoyable this time around.
Not to say I was disappointed by the long-range weapon. Everything was useful (and used) through the game. Except the submachine gun -- I did not pick it up a single time through the campaign. In fact, I only recall seeing two, both while facing off against the Flood version of Brutes, leaving them fairly worthless. The weapon I found particularly great was the SPARTAN laser -- long-range, IWIN button. You only get 5 shots out of it, but they each will knock out literally any target you have a chance to fire on. Most weapons have a very slight auto-aim and auto-tracking feature, particularly with a scope, but the laser does not -- you have to hold target for several seconds while the weapon charges up, making it difficult on moving targets.
Hunters have proven frustrating for me. In the original Halo, Hunters were fun, quick kills for talented players -- a single pistol shot to the small of their back would drop the heaviest-armored creature of them all. In Halo 2 and Halo 3, Bungie seems to have overdone it -- the weakness is still there, sort of, but I still wind up unloading enormous loads of ammo to kill them unless my allies change the direction they are facing.
My strengths right now are in close range and long-range. It's been a long time since I've played (a few months after World of Warcraft released, I sold my XBox). I get a lot of very gratifying sniper kills, but I'm not quite at the level I used to be. Actually, I'm no where near where I used to be -- flying Brutes were leaving me running for cover, whereas I used to regularly headshot people across maps. This is a matter of practice; I took a break between competitive Halo and Halo 2, also, and was able to recover then as well. Short range I am doing fine and have turn-sensitivity to 7 at the moment (high sensitivity).
My biggest weaknesses are mid-range and equipment. Through the campaign, the only time I used any equipment was when I accidentally pressed X. I have a feeling when I play through Legendary this will be much more important. Mid-range aim and fire control is also a weakness -- basically, rifle fire while moving. I do fine and have no problem with Heroic-level difficulty, but watching the film replays of the missions, I am firing extra shots after my Covenant targets are down (Flood makes sense, Covenant do not) and I am often missing the very first and last shots with the Battle Rifle.
Well, the next big thing is getting my link through the computer to work. With any luck I can move some of these screenshots on over to the PC and show them off here.
To XBL! (and, to work on the website!)
You're really tempting me to go out and get an xbox lol.
I'm definitely going to have to put Halo back on. Never finished it. Was too busy raiding in EQ.
Aww, now I want to get it as well. Im sitting with my mouse over the "order" button.
Tho, I've to say this... I've never played Halo. Well, played a little when I visited a friend. But never played the story mode. Do you I still would be able to enjoy the game? Understanding the story and so on.
Originally Posted by Valtam
I think you would enjoy it if you played through 1 and 2 before you got 3.
Halo 3 will be a better gameplay experience for you if you've never played a Halo game than if you had; it is going to have the "awe" factor your first time through, regardless of which game you pick.
You'll miss out on the story as you know, and that is big. We can catch you up on that. Aside from the story, the main thing you are missing from Halo are the Truth and Reconciliation cargo hold event and the discovery of the Flood. Both of those hold my top two spots for scariest moments in gaming.
If you are experienced as a console FPS player, play through Heroic. If not, play through Normal. Basically, play the hardest setting you can, because the best part of the Halo series is having to think about each battle.
Update - Finished Halo and now going back to tackle it on Legendary. Game still looks good at 1600x1200. Ordered Halo 2.
I decided to be different and used the Assault Rifle almost exclusively throughout the game. Usually when I needed to take out enemies from a distance, there was something nearby I could use. But for CQB, the assault rifle/shotgun combo worked quite well. It made Flood trivially easy, and finding ammo was never a problem. I also picked up a trick for Elites. If you drop their shields and then melee them with the butt of the rifle, it'd stagger them and pretty much spell their doom since you could follow up with another melee attack, or switch to the pistol/shotgun and pop them quickly in the head. This included the dreaded Gold elites.
There were some open areas I had to use some creative shoot and scoot techniques, especially later in the game. I'm hoping on Legendary it'll be even more fun then it was on Heroic.
I don't know how well it'll work on Legendary, but I figure I'll give it a try. At the least, it's great for suppressing fire after tossing grenades.