At the end of Halo 2, Master Chief was on his way back to Earth, leaving some fans frustrated that there wasn’t more to the story. Well, Halo 3 is finally here and picks up where the last game fell off. Master Chief arrives on Earth, albeit with out a spaceship, and his comrades find him in the jungle. As you weave your way through the environment you get an update on the story so far and begin mapping out plans of eradicating the alien race, The Covenant, bent on taking over the planet.

One of the first things you notice about Halo 3 is the improvement on graphics from all aspects. From the lush environments, to the animated cut scenes to the sleek and detailed character models. Using the Xbox 360’s controllers, the movement is easier than before and there are more options. You use the triggers to fire your weapons or throw grenades, the right and left bumpers to reload your weapons and X to use a variety of accessories like a shield, an air lifter, or a healing element for your team. To switch out weapons you use Y, to jump is A and for melee attacks use B. Depending on which weapon you have, such as a sniper rifle or battle rifle and some alien weapons, you press down on one of the analog sticks to bring up a scope to get Harvey Oswald on some of these fools.

Speaking of weapons, you have most of the same weapons from Halo 2 with an additional few like the alien gun, Slicer, which is much better than the plasma shooter, and the Brute Shot, which offers one-shot kills. Although the Brute Shots carry very little ammo and take time to reload, they’re worth the hassle most of the time. On the vehicle side of things, everything from Halo 2 returns plus the good guys get an ATV, which you can’t do much with and the aliens get a cool chopper/motorcycle type of vehicle that you can ride around blasting bad guys. Another cool addition to the game is the ability to jump on an enemy vehicle and throw a grenade in its engine. There’s also still an active online play element through Xbox Live, which you’ll find yourself playing for years to come.

Overall the game is fun and the story is intriguing, but Halo 3 isn’t breaking any new ground like Gears of War did last year or BioShock did this summer. There isn’t really a jaw-dropping moment in the game, but there really doesn’t have to be either. The Halo franchise has already solidified itself in the gaming space and all fans really want is to “finish the fight.” And there’s no doubt they’ll have fun doing it.

Gameplay: 9.5
Graphics: 9.0
Sound/Music: 9.0
Overall: 9.0
Learning Curve: approximately 10 minutes.

Halo 3 is only available on Xbox