So yea… The first thing I did was make my character and explore the multiplayer maps. Now you can actually choose different variations of armor for your Spartan or Elite. You can customize the Head, Body, Right and Left Arms, and Legs. Theres 10 sets and you have access to 2 when you start. Now you can identify your character with your symbol, armor, name and a “tag” (Letter, Number-number). There’s a few new symbols and backgrounds for more customization, no big deal. The whole interface is easier to manage and simpler than Halo 2’s so I like it better. But here comes the first disappointment (not really, but whatever.)…
After spending 144657345234234 hours on Halo 2’s maps I guess you get attached, and to have only 1 re-incarnated (Zanzibar, and Halo 2’s is better) kinda blows… The new maps are small in my opinion. The one that’s kind of in the desert that says it’s for 10-16 players or whatever (The biggest one, apparently) is like 3/4 of maps like Containment, Headlong Sidewinder, or Coagulation/Blood Gulch. I’d compare it in size to Relic or Burial Mounds. So overall the multiplayer maps in this game are smaller. Also there seems to be a tendency to have A LOT of like little hidden niches and places on the side of cliffs and underground on all or the majority of the maps, I don’t know why. So I’m gonna go ahead and say Halo 2 has better multiplayer maps than Halo 3. Even objectively speaking, emotional attachment aside, H2’s maps are hard to top in terms of weapon placements, space, balance and themes.
By now it was 4 am so I decide to give campaign a shot before going to sleep. The first thing you’ll notice is graphics… Fuck… this shit looks amazing… Almost up there with Gears of War… even better in some areas like foliage, lights and overall ‘landscape’ and environment. Only complaint is the faces… They look kinda weird.
The story here is familiar… run towards your objective on a semi-established route killing enemies as you go and facing “unpredictable” obstacles (read: shit that happens just to spite you)… but I only played for half and hour so I don’t know. I did notice that now in some parts you have a few choices in terms of what path to take… but you still reach the same place. The AI is considerably better, I was playing in ‘Normal’ and the brutes behaved smarter than in H2, also if you kill the Brute leader the Grunts under it’s command will run away.
Ok… what else… controls… ALMOST the same… but if you’re really used to the previous games you’ll have a few bumps to climb. the X button is now used to throw the “special” items (Bubble Shield, Grav Lift, etc.) of which you can only carry one… So you’ll find yourself throwing something you had on you because you really wanted to re-load or get into a vehicle, and believe it or not it can be dangerous. Now you press the right shoulder button to do everything you used to do with X and the left shoulder button to switch grenades and re-load the left weapon if you’re dual-wielding.
Another kinda-disappointment: Grenades. Now instead of Plasmas and Frags you also have Spike and flash grenades. All fine and dandy right? Nooooo… now you can only carry 2 of each… In theory it stays the same… you can still carry 8 grenades total… the problem is Spike and Flash Grenades are RARE to come by, especially Flash… I say you’ll spend 70% of the time carrying 4 grenades 20% with 6 and 10% with 8… It would have been better to add a grenade swapping thing like you do with weapons, or let you carry 4 of the old ones and 2 of the new ones or 4 of all of them.
2 more little complaints if you will… It sounds stupid but I don’t like how the Shield meter is now longer and on top of the screen, It worked better for me having it smaller and on top of the radar, because especially in Campaign, the radar is a tool you tend to rely on a lot. And even in no-radar multiplayer games, having it discreetly in a corner was better… It doesn’t really affect the gameplay but for me it’s kinda bothersome… Don’t let it affect you if you don’t care about these kinds of things. The other thing is the Overshield and Active camo are now like 2 huge light balls (red and blue, respectively) so they are pretty easy to spot now and are not really hidden, which sucks.
Music and sounds: The music is still awesome, I love the piano arrangement on the song at the main menu. In the campaign you’ll fin that your fellow marines and Elites talk more and actually give GOOD advice sometimes. In multiplayer the grunts and stuff you make when you get hit or die are more diverse. And you can choose the sex of your Spartan character so it’ll sound like a dude or a chick.
The new shit: All the vehicles we know and love return: Warthog, Banshee, Ghost, Wraith, etc. The new ones are the Mongoose (a speedy ATV with no guns, intended to be the ‘human Ghost’, it carries 2), The Brute chopper (A motorcycle type thing that’s kinda fast and shoots little ‘missiles’), The Hornet (A ‘human Banshee,’ read this in the paper, but I haven’t used it), and the Elephant (It’s awesome, it’s like a mobile base, it has a turret and you can get vehicles in it. It’s slow but it can’t be destroyed. You can fit like 10 people in it.) You can also pilot the Phantom and the Pelican now. There’s also the “special” items: Portable Grav Lift, Bubble Shield, Regenerator, Radar Jammer, Power Drain and Trip Mine. Already talked about the new grenades, Flash and Spike. The new guns are: The Spiker (like a Brute SMG, but a lil’ bit better.), the Marauder (Like a shotgun-type thing you can dual-wield, potential for awesome), The Assault Rifle from Halo 1 returns, Missile pod (carries 8 missiles more powerful than rockets, it slows you down.), the Gravity Hammer (remember that hammer the white Brute had at the end of H2? Yeah… It’s awesome), The Spartan Laser (it charges for like 2 seconds and fires a 1 shot kill for anything). That’s all I remember for now, there’s gotta be a list of all the new stuff somewhere so I guess you can Google it.
Well that’s pretty much all I can think of in the 3-4 hours I spent with the game, all of it mostly devoted to multiplayer. Overall it’s an awesome game… as expected: a better game all in all, but like everything it won’t be perfect and each of us will have some little problem with it. I’ll still keep playing H2 on Live… Because I like it’s maps more and today it’s just a better experience, multiplayer-wise. Obviously I’ll go more and more from 2 to 3 and eventually 3 will surpass it’s predecessors, but just like with Halo 1 and 2, It’ll be nice to pop in that old disc once in a while to remember how things used to be done.