10 days from now, the remaining copies of Halo 3 (those that survived the pre-order frenzy) will hit store shelves. While I’ve been a fan since the original there are lots of people out there who need a bit more encouragement as to why this will be incredible. If you’re into FPS action and aren’t 110% about this title, read on. Here are the top 10 reasons (from a cast of thousands) I could think of why you need to check this one out:
10 – Multiplayer to a whole new level. Without a doubt, the most popular thing about Halo 1 & Halo 2 was the online/network experience. Now with Best Buy sponsoring the first few days of the release (see also: FREE XBL GOLD ACCOUNTS) there’s no excuse for not being able to experience online play. (Well, you need an Xbox 360 too – see point #5.) Improved matchmaking, veto system for those of you who like to quit games you don’t like, and much more.
9 – Incredible technology all around. Boasting an intricate AI system, this game is all but guaranteed to never be played the same way twice. Most of the screenshots and other media has been produced with the in-game graphics engine, so it’s clear to see that the graphics and level of detail are astounding.
8 – It’s not a port of a racing/sports game. Yeah sure some of these are fun, and I even play a few now and then, but come on. I can only smash my Ferrari/linebacker so many ways before it gets old. How about putting a super-charged linebacker armed to the hilt in a vehicle with tires bigger than André the Giant, THEN propose a race-to-the-death, and we’ll talk.
7 – Millions of pre-orders, making this game one of (if not the single) best-selling pre-ordered games ever for this system. In comparison, Gears of War just recently neared the 4,000,000 mark, even as one of the highest-rated games available for the Xbox 360 with astounding reviews across the board. Word on the street had it that some of the planned numbers for stores were actually sold out, though I’m sure more are being manufactured to help compensate the rush.
6 – Fantastic marketing. Even if you can’t appreciate all of the aspects of the gameplay or technology, this title is being publicized in ways not yet approached by other game companies. Rather than explain all of them, I’ll just list a few various ones here: live-action shorts (Arms Race), TV spots and trailers (Museum & Believe), machinima episodes (Red vs. Blue), replica models for adults (Halodiaorama) and toys for kids, plus sponsored product promotions and a host of usual events like press releases and special previews for the public. (Though apparently some people aren’t as crazy about some of the marketing…I thought the Mountain Dew commercial was quite funny myself.)
5 – It plays on the Xbox 360, which is the second most popular gaming console leaving stores. I won’t get into a debate here as to which console is best, as I really do love the Wii and the PS3’s technology is astounding (though nigh taken advantage of.) Nevertheless, the Xbox is a tried-and-true piece of hardware that runs some of the most popular games on the market. While "sales not make one great" there are plenty of features and perks that make this tank-like console worth owning. (Plus, did I mention it runs Halo 3?)
4 – Customization, design, and development…while you play. Don’t like where the weapons are on a particular level? Want to make a game type where gravity is equal to that of Jupiter? How about creating a custom powerup that gives you the answer to life, the universe, and everything instead of just an overshield? Now you can with Forge, Bungie’s all-new level designer and customization tool. What about those that wish to give the Master Chief a new look, where he can don a sleek stylish helmet instead of the boxy one he wears now? In Halo 3 you can create your own multiplayer profile just like the previous two titles, but with these added controls to make your character known throughout the internet at first glance. Bungie knows they have a fantastic dedicated community for this series, and they are putting the same tools that the level designers had into the hands of every single gamer willing to take the plunge.
3 – Uber-extensive testing, market research, and data analysis BEFORE the game ships. Three years of development and testing goes a long way, with idle employees picking up the latest build and playing it every day. That doesn’t even include the army of testers for the alpha and internal beta tests, along with the Epsilon team playing during the home stretch right up until the game went gold. All this and much more, including special community and media tests documented with scientific precision, plus events like the public beta back in May that opened the doors to hundreds of thousands of eager players all over the world. This game has been played every single day for a very long time, and by addressing each issue as it arose Bungie was able to get key data and bug reports that it would have otherwise never gotten until after launch.
2 – Story, woven through the campaign and fiction. The Halo universe is one of adventure and ~~SPOILERS~~ (edited out – buy the game to learn the rest.)
1 – Community. Saved films, public file share, forge levels, screenshots, and much more can not only be accessed in-game, but also uploaded/downloaded via the all-new Bungie.net that is promised to appear very soon. This re-design of the site will be a portal for all aspects of the Halo community, and will draw fans and players alike together in ways like never before. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or just looking for the occassional weekend recreation game, Halo 3 is bringing more to the table than any other FPS in history. Believe what you will, think what you like, but be sure to at least give this game a shot (no pun intended) come September 25th. It’s going to be awesome – will you finish the fight?