October 11, 2007

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Halo 3, (XBOX 360)
Bungie, Sept. 25
By Glenn "Guilty Spark" Given production@hippopress.com

Game Fuel by Mountain Dew presents aliens blowing up in Halo 3, which is actually about moderately improving on the franchise while shilling a carbonated beverage inspired by licking the inside of Master Chiefís helmet.

Halo 2 gets better lighting, moderately improved graphics (in not-quite HD) a couple of new weapons and an underwhelming single-player story. But forget that ho-humery because the multi-player is astonishing. XBOX Live, despite its infection of pubescent scamps whose ability to portmanteau the foulest synonyms for homosexuality with developmental disability would boggle the mind of the mightiest linguist, shines under the bevy of playstyles that Halo 3 brings to the table. Sure, youíve got your bread-and-butter deathmatch, but you can also engage in a variety of playstyles like King of the HIll and the soccerrific Oddball, customize maps via Frorge, the in-game level editor, and tweak nearly every aspect of play. Then, once youíve crafted the perfect scenario for alien-on-human violence, you can upload the whole shebang for the world to enjoy. Kudos to Bungie and Microsoft for expertly engaging the community and bringing XBOX Live to a new level of connecticity.

Itís such a shame that nothing else lives up to the hype. You could say that the solo campaign is over too fast, but frankly itís lame and I donít want to spend more time with the ramshackle storylines. Ice that cake with goofy AI (especially on the part of your companion soldiers, who have a tendency to drive vehicles into mountainsides) and an unpredicatable difficulty setting and youíve got one frustrating dessert. If there is an enjoyable angle to the campaign slog itís your ability to complete it in coop mode with up to three extra players. While you will immediately notice the improvement over the computer-controlled AI, the fun lies in coordinating your team to combine scores and achievements. Bungie has also sprinkled some Easter egg hunts in for those of you who need to get every achievement on your 360 gamer tag.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel presents Halo 3 is neither a ground-breaking game nor is it finely polished in anything but its online play. The Halo franchise is to console shooters what Friends was to prime-time comedy. Both blockbusters rest firmly on the shoulders of their rabid doofus fanbase while the Arrested Developments and Gears of Wars whiz past them in their technical achievements and their artistry. Sadly the wake of its marketing blitz has overshadowed other, far more notable releases in the past few weeks (like Quake Wars, Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts and Clive Barkerís Jericho) to the detriment of all gamers looking for the evolution of the media. And honestly, first-person shooters without a keyboard and mouse are a joke. Yeah, thatís right, tweens, I went there. Your entire console-based shooter genre is the gaming equivalent of the short bus. B- ó Glenn Given