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Halo 3

Review: Fight finished in record time

Halo 3 will be in your 360 in a matter of days. There's no point even cracking one of those overused "unless you've been hiding in a..." lines because even if you have, you'll still know about the imminent arrival of Bungie's monolithic megaton shooter.

It's the final chapter in the trilogy and it ties up all the loose ends quite nicely. Or does it? That's something you're going to have to find out for yourself (or watch on YouTube) as Microsoft has banned anyone from talking about anything to do with the story so's not to spoil it for you. Bless 'em.

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"The public knows the Covenant has invaded Earth, that the Chief returns, that the Arbiter is in the game, and that a huge artefact has been discovered in Africa," reads a piece of paper handed to us upon arrival at a very posh hotel in London. "Anything outside of that is off limits."

We don't want to spoil the game for anyone, but there are things that directly relate to the gameplay experience we want to talk about but can't (not yet anyway). So if I'm being a bit vague, it's on purpose. Warning over.

The Halo fan base is split up into several different factions. Some love the multiplayer and think 'Meh' to the campaign, while it's the opposite for others. There are also those that look down their noses at anyone they think takes the game too seriously. Either way, there's a lot expected from the conclusion of the campaign. So I hit 'Start New Game' with a few butterflies in my tummy.

Six and a half hours later it was all over. But I was playing it on Normal and to say I've played Halo before is an understatement. Add a few hours onto that figure for Heroic and plenty more for Legendary (bastard hard as you'd expect and a massive challenge against the AI) and yes, you still have a short single player game. Shorter than Halo 2. I had to watch the ending a couple of times to get my head around what happened too. That I can't talk about either...

While the single player game is short and sweet, it packs in all the trademark Halo features you'd expect at a pace that rarely lets up. There are big set pieces, 'dramatic' moments that get the blood pumping and some great battles that are a pleasure to be in the thick of. But this is Halo and it knows exactly what it needs to do.

Rather than trying something new, it sticks to the run and gun formula of the first two. But it doesn't need to do anything else. Would you want to risk upsetting the fans? Me neither. There's Halo Wars to look forward to if you want something different from Halo.

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The calls of a return to the wide open spaces of the original have thankfully been heeded. A lot of the action takes place outdoors (in jungles and deserts mainly) and features great use of vehicles. As it's a fairly linear experience, there isn't much need to wonder around and look under every leaf, but you can if you want, which will please many.

Repetition of levels is something else that's been addressed. The first two games featured a lot of 'going out the way you came in', and 3 does too, it just not as drawn out or long winded. The single player campaign mode is easily the tightest of all three, but third time lucky (with more powerful hardware) was to be expected.

We all know that the multiplayer will be massive and there have been a million reports about how awesome the multiplayer is (it is by the way) but co-op and user generated content (UGI) is what the game does better than most.

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