Halo 3 (Bungie Studios, 2007)
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios
Art Director: Marcus Lehto – 3D Art Lead: Shi Kai Wang
Concept Art/Skies/Matte Painting: Dorje Bellbrook, Isaac Hannaford
Technical Art Lead: Paul Clift
My Halo 3 experience has been quite a mixed bag over the years. It all started with the memorable Bungie Vidocs rising the hype and hitting the fans’ hot spot. Then came the huge hands-on disappointment: Halo 3 really wasn’t the next-gen game everyone was hoping for. At least under a technological point of view. We already gave for granted the 30fps, the huge universe, the layered storytelling and the awesome multiplayer. We were waiting for a huge technological leap that simply didn’t come. Xbox360 owners had already their messiah in the shape of Cliff Bleszinski’s Gears of War (2006) to claim the next-gen had begun, and sadly Halo 3 looked underperforming in comparison. That’s why my first contact with Bungie’s next-gen title “to finish the fight” was rather disappointing in the first place.
The whole gameplay experience was satisfying but not flawless. The flood were able to spoil the whole experience and fun once again, as they already did in the Library chapter of the first Halo. This time the scandal set-piece is the whole Halo chapter. A mess in the process. An incredibly unbalanced act full of moments of rage and disbelief. While the first chapters were fluid and well paced as everyone expects from any Halo game, this chapter in the last part of the storyline seems like it was programmed by an external studio hired by Bungie to have the job done in the scheduled times. A bad copycat, not a Bungie original.
That said, the birth of Electric Blue Skies made me play the whole experience again to put it on film, and you know what? I liked it a lot. A lot more than the first playthrough which I had forgotten in the meantime. Playing Halo 3 after Halo: Reach allows you to realize that some scenarios where better planned in the third installment. Battles look more cohesive and tense, sometimes better written, more focused. Graphics, strange to say, look less raw than I remembered, and the photo-mode is even more amazing than Reach’s. The layer of antialiasing and the upscaling to 1080p can make the pictures look better than the ones of Reach, less pixellated and with a better overall impact at full-screen-definition.
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