Halo 3 - Xbox 360
Halo 3 and more importantly the Master Chief are back ready to fight the hordes of Covenant once again. But is it third time lucky or merely Microsoft and developers Bungie cashing in?
For those who have missed out on the gaming phenomenon that is "Halo", the game sees you play a hard as nails space commando trying to stop a bunch of aliens using a mystical weapon to destroy earth.
It's the usual Sci-Fi action fest that is sure to appease gamers, but to be honest if you're not into gaming your unlikely to be impressed. Halo 3, like GTA, Half-Life and World of Warcraft is a gamers game. This isn't going to appeal to the Wii generation looking for a bit of tennis.
Halo 3 picks up where Halo 2 left off and sees you battling the Covenant once again. This time the story has been bought to earth and you've got to stop an invasion without getting blasted into smithereens.
To help you complete your mission is the usual array of weapons including some new ones like the gravity hammer that punches a mean blow, alongside new equipment to complement your grenade stash such as trip mines and cloaking devices. There is also a range of new vehicles beyond the Warthog.
Levels are more open than in previous games giving you more room to manoeuvre however that still doesn't detract from the fact that for gamers this is going to be a quick single player campaign to complete.
There is still the same emphasis on clearing corridor after corridor, however there are bigger, tougher, aliens than before as Bungie expect you to have followed them on this journey rather than jumping right in.
Whether it's battling it out in the campaign story mode or the new multiplayer arenas there will be plenty to keep you busy in the run up to Christmas and beyond.
Halo and Halo 2 fans will be able to jump straight into the action as the gameplay hasn't really changed that much from previous outings.
Where Halo 3 builds on previous outings is the multiplayer element.
Within the campaign mode you can now opt to play with three other players (up from just one other) in co-op mode and you won't all have to be sitting in the same room either.
Get into multiplayer proper and it's clear this is where Microsoft sees the franchise going.
While there are plenty of multiplayer maps available within the game, Microsoft says it plans to offer plenty more on its Xbox Live service for gamers to download, plus gamers will be able to create their own making the options limitless.
Taking level editors one-step further, gamers will be able to live edit, basically allowing them to play God. If for example the God player watching over a match feels one side is doing better than the other they will be able to add more guns, vehicles and kit or equally take it away as the game plays out.
Another great feature within multiplayer is the introduction of a theatre mode allowing you to record and playback any moment of the game and view it from any camera angle all in glorious detail. It might be not of interest to the casual gamer, but you just know videos of classic moments will be shared for fans to see.
VerdictSo should you bother queuing up when the game comes out on Wednesday morning? If you are interested in shooter games of course you should, Xbox 360 owner or not.
With movie-like graphics complete with stunning landscape vistas, Halo 3 gives you a cracking single player campaign mode, if not a little on the short side to complete and then backs it up with a even better, if not hectic, multiplayer element making this game is classic shooter gaming at its best.
However if you're looking for a game that doesn't require lighting fast reactions and a past storyline to understand then this probably isn't for you.