Halo 3–Why not?

13 10 2007

Halo 3 When writing video game reviews, or playing video games for that matter, there are certain games that you just cannot get away from. Whether it’s EA’s Roster Update 2008, or the newest reiteration of Super Mario, some games you just have to play. Which is what brings me to Halo 3.

I’ll be honest, this is one of the first games in the recent history of my gaming experience, that I have actually played on the day it was released, as well as one of the first FPS (First-Person Shooters) that I have purposely chosen to restart the game at the beginning almost immediately after finishing.

I’ll start from the beginning… I have played all three Halo games in the series. Starting from my upbringing as a missile launching, pistol whipping, shotgun blasting, plasma grenade sticking, Black Spartan in Blood Gulch. I was one of three unbeatable Spartans in my group of friends, that when put into any situation where we were on the same team, were unbeatable. I am not saying this to brag but I honestly can’t think of a single instance that I lost in Team Slayer mode. Every man for themselves was a little different because I had some good snipers that I hung out with, but when in teams, I was “that guy”. “That guy”, the guy who would randomly launch a missile in the canyons of Blood Gulch, without any reason, and some unsuspecting Foe would walk directly into my Spnkr ammo a few seconds later. The guy that would kamikaze across the open terrain with a pistol and shotgun, and dodge all sniper shots only to whip out my pistol zoom and knock them out long range leaving them baffled and waiting for re-spawn. The guy that would get both the over-shield and cloaking power-ups and bitch-slap people to death… my friends hated me.

After they all went off to their respective colleges Halo 2 came out and I chose to play through it mainly on my own or with my brother, as opposed to focusing on the multiplayer aspect, which I felt had already been played to death. Albeit the multiplayer maps were cool, and the new vehicles and weapons were fun, I dove into the story head first really enjoying myself throughout the game. Awesome graphics for the Xbox and fluid controls made it easy to want to come back the next day to finish.

Which brings me to the “Fight to the Finish”. The story overall was a solid one, even though it’s been a few years since I’ve last fought with the Covenant and the Flood, I felt like I could generally follow along, however there were some moments that I guess I should have read the novels to get a better grasp at what was exactly going on. It definitely seemed as if the story moved faster than any of the previous games as well. I say that because I finished this game faster than any of the previous ones. I honestly think it took me all of three days to finish, about 15-20 hours. I was very surprised about that, although the story was fun to play along with, it was almost disappointing that I was able to get through it so quickly.

Onward to other features, I just wanted to make a few quick points on the skull finding goal in the game. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I have to say that if it were only myself left to scour through the levels to find these skulls (for what reason I don’t know) I would have never found a single one. Why you ask? Because they are found in points that during the course of a normal game you have no reason to go to. As an example, who would’ve known to jump through all of the rings on that level to activate the skull for retrieval…. What?!? I mean come on, I had to read the gamefaqs.com page and then I still watched the video made to even make sense of it all. Who would honestly jump on the top of the rafters in a room where there are only NPC’s, and then continue to the end of said rafters when there is obviously a drop off to a wall? Furthermore, why would you walk out to the edge of a cliff and almost drop over just to see a skull to retrieve? Let alone knowing what you need to do to activate the skull… Do I have to carry it to the end of the level, beating people with it, or dropping it to actually use a fire arm, then picking it back up at the end of a long skirmish? (In a game where you are able to dual wield almost any gun in the game, why can’t you dual wield a pistol and a skull?) In most games I veer away from cliffs or unnecessary movement, so I tend to not like to do a lot of things that I feel aren’t going to amount to anything, like searching an entire level for a skull when there isn’t one. I like to be sleek and quick, like a snake, or a puma, or like a hybrid of a snake, puma and maybe a ninja…. And a robot, yea, a robot, they rule.

Finally I wanted to touch on the armor configurations for the multiplayer games. Although I have not yet played in an online match-up, considering I just received an e74 error on my box I don’t think it’s coming soon. I do believe that this was one of the best decisions, other than the fully customizable online matches and replay ability, that Bungie had for the franchise. How many years have I been waiting for a way to distinguish myself from others when playing matches. Everyone wanted to be black, red, or green, which is really monotonous when playing. I love being able to equip different armor plates, and helmets that you have played your ass off to receive, it’s like a merit badge of uber-coolness.

In conclusion, graphically the game definitely felt like a great Xbox game but a mediocre 360 game, the overall sound and gameplay however, were beyond expectation. The controls were flawless as always, and it felt like a great conclusion to the trilogy, while still leaving it open ended. (Especially if you’ve seen the latest “Believe” commercials).

With all of the flaws in graphics, and length of the game, this might still be one of the top games for the system. However I am going to only rate it a 9 out of 10. There is still room to improve for the franchise should they continue it, but it definitely lived up to one gamers expectations, and will continue to live up to it for quite awhile because of the replayability (I think I’ll go ahead and make that word up).


All-Pro Football 2k8 — Football how we’ve missed ye

12 10 2007

All-Pro Football 2k8

Gamefly envelope gripped tightly in my clutches, tearing through the orange and white, I see myself once again trying to find out if I have received All-Pro Football 2k8 or another game that has been farther down my queue. I have to say that I am more than satisfied at the caricatures of John Elway and the crew on the front of the disk to put my excitement at ease. For a man that has all but sworn his life to serve 2k Sports and all it creates, one can only imagine the amount of sadness the last two years of no 2k Football has been for me.

Disk in hand I quickly slide it into my XBOX 360 to watch as the white logo graces the screen and the game launches me into joy. First off I notice that the menu system and the general user interface is pretty standard for what has come out of 2k, they always tend to have the same feel year in and year out, and I am always unimpressed. However, the games themselves have tended to be heavy on the modes and options to more than cover for a “press start” screen.

Going through the motions of starting out a Season (it would have been franchise mode if it was included) I immediately notice what this game has to offer; a solid handful of players to choose from with no real customization possible for your team: two Gold Star players, three Silver, and the rest Bronze. So I plug in a few of the best players for the money that I could find:

Joe Montana

O.J. Simpson (yea I smiled like that too)

Herman Moore

Andre Reed

Rocket Ismail

Ed “Too Tall” Jones

Firing up my first game I couldn’t help but try to remember what the main differences tended to be between 2k and EA, but after the coin flip it shocked me how different the games have really become.

2k seems to be driving the point home with smash mouth, no huge play on our AI football when in previous years if all else failed you should resort to running your QB, whether it be Peyton Manning, or Kyle Boller. In this game if you take two steps with your QB he tends to need to recoil from the movement and reset himself before anything else can happen, usually resulting in a frustrating sack or tapping the pass button too many times occurring in a pump fake, also resulting in a sack… God forbid you get out of the pocket and try to scramble, the defenders will 95% of the time track you down like you stole their NFLPA pension resulting in a very different situation, a sack plus a fumble!

I pride myself in being pretty darn good at sports games and one of them has always been my ability to beat down the opposition in a game of pigskin, but when you nail a “scrambler” Quarterback’s feet to the floor worse than Drew Bledsoe in a passing competition, we have a problem. Learning to rely on Orenthal James to do the dirty work I start realizing the ease of running and lowering my head to get gains of 50+ yards on a pretty consistent basis, as if I had Bill Belichick on the sidelines videotaping the defenses for my advantage. All and all, I notice that the game has not changed a whole, whole lot. Certain exploits will always work in video games, making it all too easy to beat down the AI, but this game has made some strides.

Taking into consideration that you end up with players by the name of Wasswa Edmonds, and Tebucky Bair, who are not legends in any way, the game starts to give a feel of Blitz the League more than NFL 2k8. All of that aside though, the game provides a football experience that no EA can ever step to because of the true football feel, and the lack of Arcade like play. I give this game 7.5 out of 10, leaving a lot of room to improve but a very hearty handshake for an old friend.