I was actually a massive latecomer to the Halo universe. I never played Halo: Combat Evolved or its sequel until a good year after I picked up the third instalment, which I held off on buying until about 10 months after I'd nabbed my Xbox 360. I didn't know anything of Master Chief so Halo 3 was my first introduction to the series. And I've never looked back.
The first Halo game to hit the 360 can now be grabbed for under £8 new, as The Hut is offering copies of the game for just £7.93. Considering the franchise's towering popularity, and the relatively recent release of Halo 3: ODST, the game still sells pretty well, and this little bargain will save you a good £3 on the nearest competitor (Simply Games - £10.98).]
Modern Warfare 2 has split a lot of opinion recently, but it's nothing really compared to the passionate loyalty and unswerving hatred that Halo instils in people. It gets rolled out every time a console flame war starts on a forum, and nearly always ends in a mess of leetspeak and no changed opinions.
I loved it, personally. You play Master Chief, the one remaining faceless super-soldier left, and your mission is essentially to protect humanity from a warmongering alien collective known as the Covenant, and a bunch of walking bubonic monstrosities named the Flood. The combat is excellent, the AI impressive, the graphics perhaps look a little dated at the turn of the decade, but they're still pretty good, and the music - Martin O'Donnell deserves a medal - is brilliant and really adds to the game.
You can do the main campaign alone or with buddies, and the whole thing reeks of love and dedication. Bungie only really do one thing, but they do it very well indeed. There's one boring level which basically involves you traipsing through a giant alien's large intestine, and the Flood overlord Gravemind pops up from time to time to spout terrible poetry and criminally slow the pace, but it's the rest of the game more than makes up for it with spectacular vehicular combat and lots of tasty firefights.
If that wasn't enough, the multiplayer is exceptional and frighteningly well supported thanks to Bungie having pretty much nothing else to do with themselves. It took balls to release ODST at full price with a dubiously short singleplayer and a two year old multiplayer from its predecessor, but it says something about the confidence Bungie have in it. At its worst you'll come across a bunch of 14 year old Americans who swear blindly, make offensive comments and clearly spend every free waking moment playing the game. But at its best, Halo 3's multiplayer is incredibly good fun with great server support, a reliable matchmaking system and an abundance of game types.
It's not as expansive or as striking as the original perhaps, but Halo 3 is a fantastic addition to the series with enough collectables, ranks to achieve and diverse game modes to keep you coming back time and time again. If you're an FPS fan and you don't own it, this might be the best £8 you spend all year.
Thanks to whizzkid at HUKD