Review: <i>Halo 3 (Xbox 360) </i>

WORTH THE WAIT: Halo 3 isn't perfect, but it's a worthy final chapter to series.
WORTH THE WAIT: Halo 3 isn't perfect, but it's a worthy final chapter to series.

The anticipation and hype surrounding Halo 3 and the sales frenzy since it went on the shelves on Tuesday has been dubbed the gaming equivalent of Harry Potter.

But for millions of Halo fans, it hasn't just been the need to know the conclusion to super soldier Master Chief's battle against the fanatical alien Covenant.

This is the first in the series designed from the ground up for the more powerful 360 console and to further expand the booming online multiplayer version of the game.

So does it live up to the hype? Yes and then some.

Several improvements are evident from the first 10 seconds of game play, where the story kicks off in Covenant-occupied East Africa.

The environments, including jungles, savannah and an abandoned hydro electric power station are the most realistic and beautifully rendered yet.

It's the same in renderings of the assorted vehicles and right down to Master Chief, his fighting buddies, the reluctant collaborator, the alien Arbiter and numerous enemies.

As promised, there are new vehicles and weapons – most introduced in the first levels – and new equipment, including a force field "bubble shield".

Best weapons include a "gravity hammer" and a gun that fires spikes – both used by the gorilla-like Bruts.

While there are many surprises in Halo 3 – best left for players to discover – some gamers may grumble that the final instalment doesn't go far enough.

But in many ways Halo 3 succeeds by not pushing itself too far from its roots. Yes, the jeep-like Warthog is again the vehicle of choice.

Yes, more often than not in this first-person shooter the best weapon is the tried and true assault rifle.

But these are some of the many reasons why Halo is so popular. Underneath a twisting, gripping storyline and an almost perfectly realised universe, it remains accessible and relatively simple to understand and play, compared to many games.

Halo 3 isn't perfect. It's obvious more of the scenarios this time have been designed for their potential for online play rather than to advance the story.

The hologram representing Cortana has inexplicably had a sexy makeover.

Otherwise, Halo 3 is a masterful and satisfactory conclusion to best game series on the planet.

The Dominion Post