Innovation & Design

Halo 3 Lives Up to the Hype


If you want to use the Man Cannon or the Mongoose in the eagerly-awaited final chapter of the Xbox franchise, your wait is almost over

This fall, Master Chief continues the fight against the evil Covenant in the highly anticipated Halo 3, the latest and presumably final chapter in the critically acclaimed Xbox franchise. Built from the ground up for Xbox 360, the game promises to deliver phenomenal visuals and audio. With Microsoft's financial backing, developer Bungie's commitment and millions of rabid fans, the Halo 3 hype train continues to pick up speed.

Halo 3 picks up where Halo 2 left off, with super soldier Master Chief (MC) returning to Earth to deliver a smack-down to the Covenant, aliens hell-bent on extinguishing the human race. MC also goes face-to-face with The Flood, a parasitic organism that uses its hosts to create powerful (and ugly) monstrosities. Armed with a myriad of weapons including the new Bubble Grenade, which creates a temporary shield (essentially a bubble) around him, Master Chief leaps into battle, the goal to not only annihilate his adversaries, but also save Earth.

At this point, the single-player campaign remains under wraps, tightly guarded at Bungie Studios. The first Halo 3 trailer has the Master Chief in Africa, eyeing a miles-long Covenant ship slowly gliding past. In addition, his artificial intelligence companion, Cortana, speaks off screen in a stern, possibly evil voice, suggesting something awful occurred (SPOILER: at Halo 2's conclusion, she meets Gravemind, The Flood's leader.). Past that, the adventure remains a mystery.

Bungie promises to create an improved multiplayer experience that will stay true to Halo and Halo 2. Gamers will have the option of muting other players on Xbox Live, using a feature called (as of this writing) "The A-Hole Button." Also look for the return of the assault rifle from the original Halo, allowing players to unload countless rounds of ammo into enemies, while delivering a well-placed melee strike to their heads.

The Bubble Grenade makes its way into multiplayer, along with new additions, such as the Man Cannon and M274 Mongoose and Trip Mine, which lets people drop a mine across their path, killing anyone that touches it. The player using it also dies, but at the very least, the device grants them the opportunity to get the last laugh.

The Man Cannon launches characters across chasms and other obstructions. The launch pad provides a quick means of transport, but also exposes gamers to the enemy, most notably snipers, who will most likely pick off flying targets in mid-air. Still, it allows for quick getaways, though at this point, Bungie hasn't revealed whether it can be used in Capture the Flag. Surely, someone holding an enemy flag would want to avoid walking across a map in exchange for a two-second ride.

If the Man Cannon seems too dangerous, the Mongoose makes a nice alternative. The lightweight unarmored ATV travels 60 miles per hour, can make quick stops with an emergency brake for making quick stops and carries two people (one driver and one passenger). Like the Man Cannon, this ride offers more speed than protection.

Bungie hasn't released a final map count, but leaked out three including High Ground, a military base attached to a mountain. Sporting gun turrets and numerous camping locations, it follows the classic "storm the beach" scenario, with one team attempting to overtake the base from the ground while the defenders stay put and beat back the opposition.

All of this sounds great, and early videos show superb graphics and animation, but waiting until fall 2007 to play the game seems unfair. However, Bungie will give the world a small taste of Halo 3 multiplayer on May 16 at 12:00AM PDT, when it unveils the much-hyped Halo 3 beta. The beta, which runs until June 6 at 11:59PM PDT features three maps (Valhalla, High Ground and Snowbound) and allows gamers to use the Bubble Grenade, Trip Mine, Man Cannon and a host of other weapons. Online sign-up closed a while ago, but players can snag an invite if they find a specially marked version of the Xbox 360 game Crackdown.

From what little we've seen, Halo 3 looks excellent.

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