Itâ€™s three years after the pinkie finger grapple of a cliff-hanger that was Halo 2, and we are now within the outer reaches of Halo 3's beckoning light. Halo 3 has been concreted to a release on September the 25th, with the public beta being merely a taste of what waits for us four months down the track. The idea of the beta was to stress test Halo's playability to the extreme, which can only mean that Bungie does not have the same rush to get the game out like with Halo 2. So what has been accomplished so far? What can we expect from the most highly anticipated game in the world?
Halo 1 was the best thing that could have ever happened to Microsoft. They had a launch title for their new console that raked in millions of people to buy their machine. Halo 2 brought even more fans to the series, but now the series is coming to an end. Halo 3 must be the final push into a true next-generation standard for video games. Bungie know how much rests upon their shoulders; they know they can't screw up a title so highly anticipated. So they have put all their effort into making a game that will satisfy the hunger of those who await it, and boy have they done well.
Why do you keep buying Halo games? Is it because you want to close the final chapter of the Master Chief's story? Is it because you wanna 'pwn' more 'n00bs' online? No matter what reason you have for buying the game, Bungie has thought about you. The storyline looks set to be the grand finale of the Master Chief's unyielding crusade, taking you through ten or more massive levels. The AI has been radically enhanced so that with every move you make, they respond with deadly consequences. Weapons have been beefed up to perfection as well. Bungie have brought back the mighty assault rifle from Halo 1 and also given you the ability to rip turrets off their mounts and use them for yourself.
Possible spoilers may follow. Skip the next paragraph if you don't want to hear anything about the storyline.
The basic story of Halo 3 continues where Halo 2 left off. It is believed that you arrive on earth via the forerunner ship you managed to get aboard. Upon arriving on Earth you begin your hunt for the Prophet of Truth and his posse of Brute commanders. It is unknown what has happened to Cortana, but it is believed that Cortana fools Gravemind into letting her catch a ride to earth on board a ship hi-jacked by the flood. This is trickery of course, and as Cortana makes her escape, she blows the Pillar of Autumn's reactors. Hence, this is how Cortana makes it back to earth. But that is just one of the unofficial rumors about the storyline. The truth is, nobody knows much about the storyline at all, Bungie has done very well to keep it all hush-hush.
Multiplayer was very important in Halo 2. It was so good in fact that it is still the most popular game on Xbox Live to date. There have been huge improvements over the previous game. For example, there was player movement, which gave birth to the 'Man Cannon' - essentially a gravity lift on steroids which propels players (and other objects) into the middle of the field. There are also new vehicles such as the 'Mongoose', an ultra-light recon vehicle which would rival every New Zealand farmer's quad bike. And now players have 'equipment' at their disposal. With a simple tap of the X button players can lay down some very interesting gadgets. These include the trip-mine, the portable grav-lift, the bubble shield, and the power drainer. Bungie has definitely thought about mixing things up a bit in this game.
Bungie's unique approach to developing the game was playing the heck out of the playable version they had, then building it up from there. To put it simply, they constructed the engine, then they built the chassis around it, adding in different components and building it up to look and play the way it does now. Not many developers use this technique. They usually build the game up from scratch through to near finish, release a beta, and then finalise the game. The fact of the matter is, Bungie have been testing this right the way through development, getting thoughts and ideas from the community, and really listening to what the fans want.
Halo 3 also has a New Zealand connection. Chris Butcher is the senior engineer for Halo 3 at Bungie studios. Chris was born in Kakanui in 1979 and was raised in New Zealand. Chris was hired out of college to work for Bungie in Chicago, but then got moved to Bungie west. His first job was to rewrite the particle effects and AI for Oni. Chris also stays true to his Kiwi roots, having appeared on 60 Minutes in October of 2004 as a very well-to-do Kiwi working in the states. Chris still loves his pavlova and his worst fear is accidental deportation back to New Zealand.
So with a New Zealander on the team we can expect this game to rock the socks off the 360 community worldwide. Great anticipation follows this game wherever it goes and the general feedback from the beta test is that this game is fantastic. But what will they change after the Beta? What feedback will they get that will mold the game into the perfect slice of heaven that we expect? Questions surround this mysterious title and rumors flood the many forums of the internet. Do not believe what they tell you: keep your browser over NZGamer.com for the true scoop on the game.