Halo 3 Reviews for Xbox 360 and Achievements as Launch Day Approaches

Halo 3 is the third game in the Halo Trilogy and will provide the thrilling conclusion to the events begun in Halo: Combat Evolved.  Master Chief is back on Earth and Fighting a new enemy.  And unlike Halo 2, it seems this time around the game has an appropriate fit and finish.  Playing along side the elites should make the game interesting, and the new weapons are a lot of fun.  Master Chief has more depth and the level of story telling has been upped.

The balance of weapons and objects in the game has been adjusted to better adhere to what Multiplayer Designer Lars Bakken details as the “Golden Three Things of Halo“. These are “weapons, grenades, and melee”; all 3 of which are simultaneously available to a player at all times while on foot (unless dual wielding or using one of the new class of support weapons).

Halo 3  Xbox 360 Review Achievements Cheats Walkthru Multiplayer The idea of “balance” (at least for multiplayer) is that each specific weapon or piece of equipment has specific areas where it is most useful, and others where it falls far short. No matter what combination of weapons a player chooses (players are famously limited to only two weapons at any one time in Halo), there will be situations in which they have an advantage, and others in which they have a disadvantage. The result is that there is no one weapon/vehicle that is overpowered for every type of situation the player might encounter.

The new default controller layout will see the Right Bumper become the “action” button (pick up, reload, board vehicles, activate switches, etc), with the X button being used for deployment of equipment. When dual-wielding, weapons can be individually reloaded using either the left or right bumper. Other buttons are unchanged, but B (melee attack) also will be used to take a stationary gun turret off its tripod for mobile use, becoming one of the game’s “support weapons”. As with previous games however, players can still choose to change the default control layout in their game profile to a number of pre-sets.

Multiplayer
Halo 3 multiplayer map High GroundUp to four people can participate in multiplayer match on a single Xbox 360 in Halo 3 via a split screen layout. Up to sixteen may participate in a single match over a LAN or Xbox Live. A combination of some or all of these methods may be combined for a match with up to sixteen players.

Like most multiplayer Xbox 360 titles, Halo 3 will use a customized version of TrueSkill ranking system for its online matchmaking facilities. Halo 3’s matchmaking system will be based on two different ranks, skill and experience (Rating Points or RP). Skill will simply be the TrueSkill rank of the player in a given playlist, and experience (RP) is a linear measure of experience (1 point for each win in the online playlists). Overlaid by a Military rank; so, a player with a designation of a “General” will have played for a longer time than someone who is a “recruit”. This is in order to make the system more fair and to reflect the effect of experience on players’ profiles. The RP system also has a mechanism built in to dissuade players from excessive quitting from matches, which became a problem for some players in Halo 2. When players quit from a match before it has finished, they will lose 2 RP. So players that regularly quit games, leaving their teammates stranded, may eventually end up having negative RP.

The UI (user interface) has been redesigned from Halo 2, making it easier to generate a custom game in Halo 3 multiplayer, which can now be saved and shared online with the File Sharing Features. Players will now be able to “advertise” their custom games via Xbox Live Public; making it easier to find a multiplayer match to a player’s taste without having to link up with friends. To help players have an enjoyable time online, a new feature dubbed the “A-hole button” allows players to mute annoying players in the game quickly and easily from the in-game scoreboard view. People sifting through the code, as well as those who used a glitch to find their way into the custom game UI, of the Halo 3 Beta have found that the strength of gravity is indeed a customizable option in multiplayer games, confirming statements made by Bungie employees. In addition to existing gametype settings from previous games, new “player traits” allow players to set specific altered abilities to all players and different (if they wish) abilities to the leaders of a game, expanding the amount of gametype customization available still further.

Weapons
A Spartan Holding a Missle PodMost of the weapons available in previous installments of the series return with minor cosmetic and power alterations; including the Battle Rifle, Sniper Rifle, Covenant Plasma Rifle, Brute Shot and the Covenant Needler. The now-iconic Assault Rifle which appeared in the original Halo as the MA5B, but was absent from Halo 2 is returning for Halo 3 retooled into the MA5C. Developer Bungie hopes it will fill the role as the “ultimate spawn weapon”, allowing players to hold their own in a fight straight away (unlike the SMG in Halo 2) but not be so powerful as to overshadow all of the other weapons (like the M6D in Halo). In hopes of fulfilling this, it has a smaller magazine and slower rate of fire than its previous iteration but a longer range, greater accuracy, and more fire power.

Halo 3 introduces a new-to-the-series class called “support weapons”. These are a group of exceptionally large, powerful and cumbersome two-handed weapons that, when carried, change the view to a third-person perspective and cause the player to move more slowly. The two weapons available in this class during the Public Beta were the Machine Gun Turret and Missile Pod, although a Flamethrower also features in this class as well as a new covenant plasma turret.

As a visual change to the weapons, when a player is carrying a second weapon in Halo 3, the secondary weapon will be stored on the character’s back (for larger, two-handed weapons) or on a leg holster (for smaller, one-handed weapons). This makes it impossible to “hide” a powerful secondary weapon and surprise unsuspecting foes.

Equipment
“The 30 seconds of fun has become 30 seconds of fun and five of total astonishment.”
—Jaime Griesemer, Bungie Studios
A new class of usable items in Halo 3 are known as Equipment. These items have various effects and functions, ranging from defensive effects (Bubble Shield and Regenerator), or objects which blind or confuse the enemy (Flare and Radar Jammer), to ones which can actually harm and kill (Power Drainer and Tripmine). Most of these are named by their function.

They are not designed to give one player a significant advantage, as they affect both sides equally, but as items which change the dynamic of a fight momentarily. The Bubble Shield, for example, produces a protective dome but, a person inside cannot fire out, just as a person outside cannot fire in. This creates a stalemate situation until the Bubble Shield fails, or players move through the shield onto one side of it. Equally, once the Portable Gravity Lift is dropped it can be used by both sides to gain greater height into the air, often to get over specific obstacles.

A small selection of equipment available in Halo 3.
Vehicles
Halo 3, like its predecessors, will also feature a strong vehicular component. Vehicles, and their countermeasures (rockets, mines, etc.), are tightly integrated with Halo gameplay. Many of the series’ vehicles are returning in the third installment. Vehicles cover a wide range of types, including light reconnaissance vehicles, large, heavily armoured tanks, troop and vehicle transport craft, plus various atmospheric and spacecraft, though not all are usable by the player.

The Mongoose ATV, a small quad bike, originally designed for Halo 2 but later cut out, is available as a vehicle in Halo 3. A second player can ride on the back of the vehicle to provide some offensive capability. There will also be a new variant of Warthog, with rear seats for troops instead of a gun, and a light human aircraft called the Hornet which is similar in function to the Banshee. They can both be seen briefly in the E3 2007 video. The Hornet will not feature in Matchmaking because it is “too overpowered” and thus will only be accessible in custom games, Campaign, or the Forge gametype.

There are also two entirely new Brute vehicles, dubbed the “Brute Chopper” and “Brute Prowler” to expand the “Brute sandbox”. Unlike other vehicles attributed to The Covenant in the game, that entirely hover or fly above the ground, the Chopper has a single large and heavy wheel on the front with a hovering driver seat behind.  It has been referred to as a “vehicle smasher,” able to destroy other vehicles with a single hit. Insofar it has only been seen in the E3 2007 Trailer. The Brute Prowler however, is closer in function to a Brute version of the Warthog. It has a plasma turret in front, a driver in back, and two side seats, similar to the Covenant Spectre in Halo 2.

The Covenant Banshee aircraft and Wraith tank have been altered in terms of gameplay. The Banshee now has the ability to fire its Fuel Rod Gun in multiplayer matches, an ability which was formerly restricted to Campaign and the multiplayer of Halo for Windows and Mac. But as a trade-off it can no longer point directly down. The Wraith can now carry two people instead of one. One drives the vehicle and fires the main cannon, while the other fires the smaller plasma turret. The plasma turret was formerly exclusive to AI in the Halo 2 campaign.

The largest drivable vehicle in the game is a UNSC transport vehicle named “The Elephant”.The vehicle is armed with an anti-aircraft gun at the front, has a Mongoose in its belly, and can transport an additional 2 Mongooses, a Warthog, and a Scorpion tank along with 12 infantry. In multiplayer the vehicle serves as a mobile base where players can respawn, and also holds both the flag and capture points for certain multiplayer objective modes. Because of its size, it only features on the largest multiplayer map: Sand Trap, and it is unknown whether it will make an appearance in campaign.

Miscellaneous
Fish have been seen on the level “Sierra 117” and it has been confirmed that the player can kill fauna.

Achievements:

  Landfall (20 points)
Finish the first mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Holdout (20 points)
Finish the second mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  The Road (20 points)
Finish the third mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Assault (30 points)
Finish the fourth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Cleansing (30 points)
Finish the fifth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Refuge (30 points)
Finish the sixth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Last Stand (40 points)
Finish the seventh mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  The Key (40 points)
Finish the eighth mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Return (50 points)
Finish the final mission of the Campaign on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary.
  Campaign Complete: Normal (125 points)
Finish the Campaign on Normal.
  Campaign Complete: Heroic (125 points)
Finish the Campaign on Heroic (unlocks achievement for Normal, if not earned).
  Campaign Complete: Legendary (125 points)
Finish the Campaign on Legendary (unlocks achievements for Normal and Heroic, if not earned).
  Iron (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Black Eye (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Tough Luck (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Catch (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Fog (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Famine (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Thunderstorm (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Tilt (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Mythic (10 points)
Find and claim this skull when playing on Normal, Heroic or Legendary difficulty.
  Graduate (10 points)
Earn 5 EXP or finish 10 games to complete the requirements for basic training (Online).
  UNSC Spartan (15 points)
Earn your Sergeant rating to be recognized as a true Spartan (Online).
  Spartan Officer (25 points)
Advance to the Spartan Officer ranks (Online).
  Two for One (5 points)
Score a Double Kill with a single spartan laser shot in a ranked free for all playlist (Online). 
  Too Close to the Sun (5 points)
Destroy an enemy banshee with the spartan laser or missile pod in a ranked playlist or in campaign.
  Triple Kill (5 points)
Kill 3 enemies within 4 seconds of one another in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
  Overkill (5 points)
Kill 4 enemies within 4 seconds of one another in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
  Lee R Wilson Memorial (5 points)
Score 5 grenade sticks in any ranked free for all playlist (Online).
  We’re in for some Chop (5 points)
Destroy an enemy vehicle with equipment in a ranked playlist or in campaign.
  Killing Frenzy (5 points)
Kill 10 enemies without dying in any ranked free for all playlist (Online).
  Steppin’ Razor (5 points)
Score a Triple Kill with the sword in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
  Mongoose Mowdown (5 points)
Splatter an enemy with the mongoose in a ranked free for all playlist (Online).
  Up Close and Personal (5 points)
Kill 5 enemies by melee or assassination in a ranked free for all playlist (Online). 
  Fear the Pink Mist (5 points)
Kill 5 enemies with the needler in a ranked free for all playlist or in campaign. 
  Headshot Honcho (5 points)
Kill 10 enemies with headshots in a ranked free for all playlist or in campaign.
  Used Car Salesman (5 points)
Destroy a vehicle that has three enemies in it in a ranked playlist or in campaign.
  Marathon Man (40 points)
Locate and access all Terminals in the Campaign.
  MVP (5 points)
Earn the MVP in any ranked playlist (Online).
  Maybe Next Time Buddy (5 points)
Board the same vehicle within 10 seconds after being boarded in any free for all playlist (Online).
  Guerilla (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the first mission.
  Demon (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the second mission.
  Cavalier (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the third mission.
  Askar (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the fourth mission.
  Exterminator (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the fifth mission.
  Ranger (10 points)
Score over 50,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the sixth mission.
  Vanguard (10 points)
Score over 50,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the seventh mission.
  Orpheus (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the eighth mission.
  Reclaimer (10 points)
Score over 15,000 points in the Campaign meta-game on the final mission.

Features

Forge
Forge is a tool that enables players to insert game objects into existing maps. Bungie has stated that this should be considered more a gametype than a tool. Almost all weapons, vehicles, and interactive objects (various crates and barriers) can be spawned, moved and placed into maps with Forge. In an example of its uses, one of the testers was able to place an unusually large number of exploding fusion cores in a large vehicle set to as close an instantaneous respawn as the game would allow, which caused the vehicle to charge wildly around the map.  In games where Forge is enabled, players can switch to the editing mode at any time. While in this mode, a player appears to other players as a Forerunner Monitor and is still vulnerable to being attacked and killed. Objects can be spawned into the game in real-time and parameters such as ammo counts (for weapons) and respawn rates can be altered for each object. The number of objects that can exist in a map at any one time is limited, however, as each object created takes up a set amount of points from the particular map’s limit.

As well as changing alterations to spawn weapons to assist a player in real-time, altered maps can be saved and then recalled in a normal multiplayer game mode. These altered maps can also be transferred to other players using the File Sharing features. Modifications made by Forge can change the way a map plays quite drastically from its original configuration. Forge was also the name of the editing tools included in another Bungie game called Marathon.

Saved films
Halo 3 will have a feature called Saved Films. This feature allows players to save a copy of the game data of a multiplayer match or campaign session to their Xbox 360’s hard drive, so that they may watch it later on. It has been confirmed that you can only save 100 files on a hard drive at a time. Though the public beta’s implementation was very limited, its functionality is planned to be extended for the final game.

“Just think about all those stories you’ve heard, about that game you played the other night, that awesome thing that happened – well, now you can download it and actually check it out.”
—Tyson Green, Bungie Studios
Players will be able to view the action from almost any angle and any player’s perspective (including a free-roaming camera), as well as being able to slow down the speed and also play the recording in reverse. The Saved Films can even be edited in game to create a shorter clip of a particularly amazing or special moment.Players can also use the tool to take still pictures from films and upload them to the bungie website.

As the Saved Films are only the game data (not an actual video), this allows the file sizes to be relatively small. A recording for a typical “long” game is in the region of only 6 MB. Films will also be played back at whatever resolution the Xbox 360 is set to, regardless of the resolution at which the a player was using at the time of the recording. All games are recreated in real-time on the Xbox 360 using the Halo 3 engine. This allows them to be shared amongst any other Xbox 360 without any compatibility issues because they all run off the same code. The Saved Films feature is described as an “excellent training aid” since players can gain valuable tactical insight into the strategies of other players by viewing the saved films. Alternatively, they could have a look at other games uploaded through the fileshare.

This feature will also facilitate the creation of machinima and other game-related videos, as well as give the creators of such videos advanced tools to enhance the quality of this medium. Video game montage creators can save games to the hard drive of their Xbox 360 console for later use, so they never have to miss a camera shot, while machinima directors and cinematographers will have expanded camera options, instead of having to resort to using a first-person, gameplay perspective.

File share
File Sharing in Halo 3 is an online storage and sharing service for a range of files that are created in the game, and is an extension of the game’s online capabilities. Files such as Saved Films, screenshots, custom gametypes and Forge settings can all be uploaded to the File Share. When the game launches, items stored there then appear on a players Bungie.net Halo 3 profile, with the ability to comment on them and queue items to download for when the player next plays the game online.

Players can view and transfer these files individually to others while they are online, but can also upload them to a central, Bungie run server so friends (or rivals) can then view and download them even when the creating player is not online. During the Beta each player had 25 MB of storage space on the File Share, which may change by the time the final game ships. Bungie announced that players will be able to purchase additional storage space and slots for 750 Microsoft Points, dubbed “Bungie Pro”; all Gold subscribers get 6 file slots and 25MB of storage. Bungie Pro bumps storage up to 24 slots and 250MB. While players with Xbox Live Silver do not have access to the free file-share, they may purchase Bungie Pro to share their files. Bungie has also extended the file-share to their website; players may “flag” files for download (up to 8) on Bungie.net. The next time a user signs on to their Xbox, it will automatically download the flagged files to their hard drive.