Halo 3 – The Biggest Video Game in History?

by MaxPower

Halo 3

The Halo series (launched in 2001) essentially saved the original Xbox from gaming never-was status. Of course I don’t have to tell most readers of R4NT that. I would assume most of our readers would be between somewhat knowledgeable to extremely familiar with the Bungie-developed gaming series. But recently, the Halo franchise has threatened to cross that almost mystical boundary between “gaming world” sensation and bonafide entertainment juggernaut. For those who don’t remember, Halo 2 saw some huge hype, whether the game lived up to all that hype is a bit beside the point (for the record, I found the Halo 2 single player game far too short, however I did enjoy the multi-player maps), because Halo 2 sold $125 million worth of product in the first 24 hours. That was due to a tremendous amount of pre-orders. A month ago in the middle of August, Microsoft announced that they passed 1 million in pre-orders for Halo 3, which for $65 a pop, gets you more than half way to the previous Halo 2 record. Some financial analysts have predicted 2 million sales in the first two weeks, with 3 million sales over the first month. That is almost $200 million gross, if you assume a $65 selling price. It could be more depending on how many “Legendary” editions sold. The Legendary edition comes in at US$129.99, and includes a Spartan helmet case and two bonus disks of extra content. I was one of the pre-orders (not for Legendary though, come on $130?!?) for the “Limited Edition” (yeah limited to a couple million copies) and today September 25, 2007 is Halo 3 day, and I have just come up for air after some good gaming.

Halo 3

In any scope of the entertainment world $125 million is big dollars. Major motion pictures gross $125 million plus, but most after weeks in the theatres. Why has the Halo 3 franchise seen so much success? A combination of popcorny story line focused around a super-soldier (a 7ft tall genetically engineered super soldier with armour weighing 1000 lbs no less), excellent graphics, a solid single player story-line based game (Halo 2 gets a marginal pass here) and a multi-player game so good it literally allowed Xbox Live to become the dominant console based online multi-player community. Halo 3 is a big enough game, a killer app if you will, that it will drive Xbox 360 console sales single handily. Sony is rumoured to be contemplating another round of price cuts on its still to expensive Playstation 3 in order to compete against an onslaught of Xbox 360 and Halo 3 purchases.

And Microsoft isn’t missing the opportunity to put the hype machine into overdrive, in this case, a $10 million marketing campaign hype machine. Have you seen the new Mountain Dew Halo-themed bottle? Regardless, for the uninitiated, I guess I should mention, the Master Chief is your character in the game, essentially one kick ass mofo, a Spartan. Here is a quick synopsis of the game:

Halo 3

The Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the conflict between the Covenant, the Flood, and the entire human race to a climax. The Covenant occupation of Earth has uncovered a massive and ancient object beneath the African sands. Earth’s forces are battered and beaten – cue the awesome Halo 3 commercials which have been airing on TV with the little plastic human army men getting whipped by the Covenant. The Master Chief’s AI companion Cortana is still trapped in the clutches of the Gravemind – a horrifying Flood intelligence, and a civil war is raging in the heart of the Covenant. It’s all been building to this (it better be, the ending of Halo 2 sucked) a desperate, final war. Take control of Master Chief to defeat the Covenant and destroy the Flood as a measure to prevent the annihilation of the human race.

What do other commentators think of Halo 3? “There is no denying it – Halo 3 is the biggest video game in history – gamepro.com“, “The truly laudable aspect of the presentation is the solid frame rate – arstechnica.com“, “There is no cliffhanger ending which will have you screaming at your TV (a la Halo 2) – ign.com“, “Halo 3 builds on the concepts of Halo 2 in ways that you’d expect, but there are also new modes and options that send the series in exciting new directions. 9.5 – gamespot.com“.

Halo 3

What do I think of the biggest video game in history? Graphically, I would describe Halo 3 as feeling familiar but better. Have you ever went back and played a game 5 – 10 years after the fact? You know, plugged in the old SNES and played Goldeneye or something? Graphics suck don’t they? Your memory of the graphics makes them seem better than they actual are. Probably due to the fact you are used to the steadily improving graphics on new consoles. Halo 3 reminds me of Halo 2 but the graphics are undoubtedly, standout better than before. Obviously they should be, this being the first “next gen” Halo. The game-play however is totally old school Halo, the fast combat balance between guns, grenades and the odd melee attack makes me immediately comfortable. If you have played a Halo series game before, you will pick up the controls quickly and easily. That being said, I have already come across new weapons and upgrades on previous weapons which add new twists to old tactics. To this point, I have been playing the campaign. As a somewhat old school gamer, I enjoy the singular accomplishment more than the camaraderie of online play. Load times on the single player version are basically non-existent with loading screens only when you advance through “chapters”. The vehicles which came into their own in Halo 2 are back, with new additions (like the Hornet and the Shade), and they are as great as before. The combination of running around on foot and piloting vehicles is part of the Halo single player experience which I love. I haven’t tried out the campaign co-op mode but it looks like great fun, allowing for the team-based action of online without all of the screaming kids. You can actually play a 4-person campaign co-op mode (either on one box or on Xbox Live) which sounds like something I need to try. It also scores the co-op mode with points for kills and losing points for your deaths, so you can still compete with your co-op teammates to see who is contributing the most to the game. I haven’t tried the online mode yet, and I doubt I will very much. Honestly I have never been keen on the multi-player aspect because unless you are playing with personal friends, the inclusion of a whole bunch of 10 year olds (whose parents have bought them the game in blatant disregard for the mature rating on it – so don’t come complaining to me when Johnny the 11 year old wants to melee attack Timmy out in the backyard) really ruins the experience for me. So I’ll stick to campaign mode, co-op and select multi-player games to get my $65 worth.

Biggest game ever? Yes. For now. Wait until GTA IV.

  • Halo 3 – The Biggest Video Game in History?
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on September 25th, 2007
Halo 3
Sep 25th, 2007

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