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GOT GAME?

This time, Halo has a little tarnish

September 27, 2007

Halo 3 is a blockbuster, no doubt about it. From the lines of people wanting to purchase the game when it went on sale Monday night to all the ancillary tie-ins -- such as specially packaged bottles of Mountain Dew and even a Halo version of the HeroClix action figure tabletop game -- everything about H3 feels more like an explosive action movie released in the summer than a video game released in the fall.

Although the game is technically flawless -- notwithstanding reports of scratched discs and Xbox Live problems -- Halo 3 doesn't quite register the same seismic jolt its predecessor did. When Halo 2 was released in fall 2004, it was without equal. H2's cut-screens, online multiplayer action and controls all were unlike anything else around. Halo 3, meanwhile, is a remarkable achievement in first-person shooters, but it is no longer one of a kind. The rest of the gaming world has caught up with smooth controls and stunning visuals of their own (for example, see Bioshock). Though that's not necessarily bad, it just means the Halo franchise can no longer be put upon a pedestal.

Still, Halo 3 is going to be a huge phenomenon and rightly so. Main protagonist Master Chief looks stunning in the full high def the Xbox 360 offers, and the gameplay is nearly flawless. The epic online multiplayer modes are as amazing as they are varied. (Popular too: At 12:37 a.m. Tuesday, there were 127,491 online users playing. A world map showed gamers from Alaska, South Africa, New Zealand, China and the Middle East.)

Halo 3 is big, beautiful and hyped to near exhaustion. Just like any good summer movie should be.

--

Pete Metzger

Halo 3, Xbox 360 platform; $59.99; rated Mature (blood and gore, mild language, violence).

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