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Halo 3 Legendary Review - a Journey, a Way of Life

by September 27, 2007
Halo 3 Legendary Journey and Review

Halo 3 Legendary Journey and Review

Five Months Before Launch

I wasn’t really going to try to get in on the Halo 3 Beta, but because it came with Crackdown, I got in for free. I was determined to not be suckered in by the slick Microsoft marketing, and I figured Crackdown was going to suck. Well, I downloaded the Crackdown demo and found it to be very cool. I ran out and bought it the next day and played Crackdown for nearly 3 weeks every night. If you haven’t played this game, then you should! In any case, I was now going to be able to play the Halo 3 Beta…

Four Months Before Launch

The Halo 3 Beta opened a day or so late as they had trouble with the servers or something. Well, it was “Beta” after all. So, I hoped on and played on and off with a few friends at various times, and it seemed to be a logical extension of Halo 2. Of course, we could only play online and with a max of 2 people per console. I was worried that this player limit might stick for the release, and be limited to 2 players only like Gears of War, but the final version lets all 4 people play.

Two Weeks Before Launch

I was starting to get the itch for the game, but didn’t want to go overboard as I am not this super awesome Halo dude sniping everything he sees. I saw a sale on some Halo 3 posters at a local video store and decided to pick them up and put one in my theater/game room. Hey, it was only $8 for two posters, I couldn’t resist.

One Week Before Launch

I didn’t preorder the game a year ago like some other people I know and figured I could just walk in any store on the 25th and pick up a copy. Well, one local game store was doing no-money-down preorders, so I decided I’d go ahead and put my name in so they could hold me a copy, just in case. Of course, the guy said they would be opening at midnight, so the idea of “playing before my friends” started rolling around in my head.

11:40pm, Sept. 24th

Ok, so I bugged a few friends about playing at midnight. My neighbor, Chris Seymour of http://www.seymourav.com (yeah, a shameless plug) came with me to wait. I live in a college town, so there were a ton of students standing in line, and I am sure most of them were planning in staying up all night to play and skip their classes the next day. Of course, I am a responsible adult… That’s why I was standing in line for a video game in the middle of the night!

12:00am, Sept. 25th

The doors opened and the line of 200 people flooded into the store. I was about 50 people back, so I had to wait even more…

12:20am, Sept. 25th

Chris and I step up to make our purchases. He gets the regular version; I pick up the Legendary Edition so I can one-up him. Of course, that may not happen while we play, but I have a Master Chief helmet to show off now. As we walk out of the store, the people in line behind us start saying things like, “He bought the helmet”, “Make way for the guy with the Master Chief Helmet”, “Make an arch!”. Then, to my surprise, they actually hold their hands up and make an arch for us to walk through as we exit the store. WOW! I didn’t know wasting an extra $70 would bring me this moment of Honor and Greatness! Time wasting, punky college students are great, don’t you think? :-)

12:30am, Sept. 25th

As we were driving back home, Chris had to tear into his copy before we even get to the house. I guess he was more excited then I was. So, we finally get home (about 2 mins later) and rush down to the home theater room to get the game going. We leave my Legendary Edition alone since there was already a fresh copy to pop into the machine. We put it in, boot it up, and just sit and stare at the intro for a while. We had to take in the awe and grandeur of the menu screen before we played!! We couldn’t waste the moment on just killing! We finally decided to start the game and play some co-op, then wrapped up the evening with a couple of online matches with another friend who was still online. Btw, there were over 100,000 people playing at 3am when we got to the frag fest. Crazy!

3:30am, Sept, 25th

We finally quit and went to bed. I am a late night kind of person, so I think I’ll be fine at work the next day…

Tuesday, Sept, 25th

I get to work late, and I am a zombie the rest of the day. I have a work training conference out of town in the afternoon, so I drive there half asleep, and can hardly stay awake in the nice dark room with the guy droning on in the front. The conference gets over late, and I get back home around 7:30pm. I call up a couple of friends to come over and play, and we got about 2 hours of some local multiplayer Halo 3 killing in, and we wrap it up early so we can all be functional the next day.

Wednesday, Sept. 26th

I still get up late, but I go down to my theater to check out my Legendary Edition instead of going to work. The Master Chief helmet is pretty nice. It has some weight to it and it’s very detailed. They did a good job of bringing some fantasy into the real world with this item. Anyway, I pull out the extra content discs and discover there is a calibration tool on one of them. There are some videos and other content on the other disc that I haven’t played with yet, as I didn’t want any spoilers before playing through the campaigns. I did run through the calibration, and it is fairly comprehensive. It took me through the standard steps that Digital Video Essentials does, and even asks you to use a blue filter to get the color and hue right. I realize what time it is, and finally get to work at 11am. “I am not a slacker, I am not a slacker.” I tell myself this sometimes, but I know the truth. After work I help a buddy work on his home theater setup by installing a projector mount and a Carada screen. We had a little snafu with something behind the wall blocking our screws so we didn’t get to finish and it was late. I got home around 11pm and I pop in Halo 3 again. I decide to hit the campaign in single player mode and play for a couple of hours. Ok, 1am and time for bed.

Thursday, Sept. 27th

Would you believe I got up late again? And of course, I went down to admire my Master Chief helmet. I was strong, though, and didn’t put the game in the Xbox. I knew I wanted to write up something about my Halo experience, so I got a few pics of my new toy helmet (which my children are not allowed to play with) then headed off to work. Late for a third day in a row (no, a pattern isn’t developing!), and now I am sitting at my keyboard and typing up my “review” of Halo 3. Don’t worry, I’ll be a productive member of my company after I head home for lunch and a take a nice nap…

Halo 3 Legendary - The Official Review

Ok, there are a hundred other reviews out there that are surely very informative as to the content of this game. I am a home theater enthusiast so I want to touch on the good and bad of the game from an audioholic perspective. I know, when you look at my mini blog up there, it looks like I am some kind of fanboy, but rest assured that I am as critical as the next guy.


The game is clearly worthy of viewing in HD. I have been playing it in 720p projector on a 106” screen and feel that the visuals are very polished and appropriate for the Halo series. It isn’t super real, like the graphics from the Call of Duty 4 beta (which is the most realistic I have seen in an FPS). It’s also not too cartoonish, like Crackdown (which is still a fantastic game). It sits in the middle and stands alone in the Halo universe pulling you into the plot more than ever. There is one issue that bugs me a little. When playing 2 players, it splits the screen horizontally and doesn’t use the space all the way to the sides. It’s like I have a giant 4:3 display, but I want to use ALL of my screen space. I know they probably did it this way to preserve the aspect of each players screen to be more fair, but I’d like to have the option of changing it so I can split it vertically and use my full screen. While 3 players are playing, this is a nice touch as the top guy doesn’t get too much more visibility than the two guys sharing the bottom half of the screen. Of course, 1 player gets the whole screen, and 4 players get their own quadrant.


The sound has been done very well. The new engine seamlessly maps sounds out in 3D space. I can hear when someone is walking or shooting behind me. As I rotate or walk past something, the sound pans clearly from the front to side to back. The music is fairly dramatic and produces the right kind of ambiance for playing in the campaign. Of course, weapons all have familiar sounds, and they have the same voice actors as the first two titles. There is some good use of LFE from various sound sources and vehicles.

Game Play

Jim Robbins Halo 3 HelmetThe game plays just like Halo 2. It feels like a natural extension, only the buttons are remapped a little to provide some extra functionality. I still haven’t completely gotten the hang of the new controls, but they seem to work well with the new items and weapons. I think it will be perfectly natural after a few more game sessions. This game really is a High Def Halo 2, for all intents and purposes. If you are expecting it to be the best and coolest FPS ever made, then you have fallen into the hype produced by multitudes of fanboys who make arches at midnight on launch day. It is has the feel we are used to, and should complete the story that was cut short in Halo 2. There are lots of other games that that may be better for single player mode, like Bioshock, or Half Life 2 Episode 2, etc. There are more realistic games like the Call of Duty series. But there are few games that have that have the mass appeal, the functional control scheme, and game party factor of Halo 3. I am looking forward to my first 8 to 12 person local game party. Online play is ok, but I actually like some real human interaction when I kill my friends, and this game will excel at getting the new people in while still satisfying the experienced players.

Bonus Content

If you buy the Limited or Legendary Edition of the game, you will get the disc with the audio and video calibration tools. I was pretty impressed with the video calibration, as it actually ran with the graphics engine instead of some video running in a lower res mode. I was able to tweak my Brightness, Contrast, and Sharpness with tests similar to what you see on Avia or DVE. It also had a Color and Hue test which requires an optional blue filter. You would think that my $130 copy of the Legendary Edition would come with a little plastic blue filter, but it didn’t. I was a little dumbfounded at that and had one from my other calibration discs, anyway. In any case, I think the calibration tool is very useful for the average user. It didn’t over-describe what was happening to bore the user, nor was it lacking in calibration tests. There was a sound calibration portion as well, but it pretty much just tested to make sure your speakers were outputting sound from the correct location. They could have been done better on this one. The other bonus content includes some gamer pics, themes, and videos. I didn’t check out the videos yet, as the disc warns you about a spoiler, and I don’t like to spoil things. The Legendary Edition also has an exclusive DVD that will play on normal DVD players. It had some remastered Halo and Halo 2 story line videos and some other stuff I haven’t played with yet. Of course, my version also has the cool Master Chief helmet. This will be a highly coveted item for gamers around the world. The base for the helmet has a serial number on it so you feel like you are really special, but they probably made a million of these things anyway…


I am not as much of a gamer as I used to be, but this is one I’ll play through several times. It has a decent story, good graphics and sound, compelling multiplayer options, and lots of unlockable items and achievements. It’s not perfect and it’s not the only game you should play, but it’s pretty darn good. There are a few other games I am looking forward to finishing this year, like Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, and the new Half Life 2 Orange Box… But Halo 3 will probably be played as much or more than those 3 combined. Honestly, people love my game parties, and this will be at the top of their list! Beyond the hype, the game is a good solid FPS that anyone with an Xbox 360 should own.

Jim Robbins
Jim -dot- Robbins -at- gmail -dot- com

Final Note: If you would like to kill me in a game of Halo 3, send me an email with your gamer tag and I’ll add you to my list. That way, I know who the heck is on my list and why. Thanks!


About the author:

Jim Robbins is, by profession, a computer programmer. His technology interests started back in 1989, when he became SysOp of his High School's BBS (anyone remember those?). Of course, as most intelligent and geeky high school students, he also loved video games. Those video games were a force driving him into self discovery as an audioholic!

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