eeks have passed since launch, and surely by now you've had ample time to meander through the campaign and try out some online matches. Regardless of whether you ventured alone, or in the company of a few friends, you wouldn't be hard-pressed to share with me many of your favorite moments. How convenient it is then, that Halo 3 adds a new dimension to storytelling with the introduction of the "Saved Films" feature. The ability to play, edit and share game clips generates a vast range of possibilities for machinima pros and casual players alike. Coupled with the basic, appropriately titled, user-friendly map editor "Forge," and you've got additions to the series that make Halo 3, the most value-packed yet.
Capture cards no more. All sessions, be it campaign or matchmaking, are automatically saved to a temporary list from which you can choose which moments were memorable enough to keep. The list stays up to date with your last twenty-five sittings, or 400 MB worth of data, which ever comes first.
Once you begin viewing your selected film, a limited number of options become available. The game data itself is recalled and played via the game engine, saving an incredible amount of space at the cost of cutting features. The majority of whatever you'd like to do, you still can do — it just takes longer. Full control of the camera, first-person, third-person, and free-roaming, is available. To navigate through a film's timeline, you're given VCR like controls — rewind, forward, etc. Unfortunately this means that if you're playing The Ark and you only wanted to see a clip from the end, you'll find yourself holding the right trigger, fast-forwarding, for a long while. It's a small issue, but one that irritates. Additional controls allow you to crop sections, and take screenshots. Don't be surprised if you find yourself looking for that perfect in game photo-op — it's worth it.
In the traditional sense, Forge isn't a map editor. You can't build from scratch. You can't alter terrain. There are too many things missing for it to be referred to as such. At any rate, whatever definition Forge fits, there's no denying it's a welcome addition. At first glance, it's hard to distinguish the mode from a regular custom match. A simple press upward on the d-pad though, and you're given control of a Forerunner Monitor with the ability to spawn or alter almost all weapons, vehicles, and interactive objects. With every new item placed, it draws from you're allotted building credits — a simple way to limit the number of objects on the map.
Players utilizing Forge are in two distinct groups. There are those who use the editor for purposes such as altering spawn, weapon and object locations in an effort to improve on the original maps for better gameplay. Then, you'll find, there are those whose only time spent in Forge will be between the matchmaking sessions, where they will attempt to pile fusion coils to the clouds, if only just to see the resulting explosion. Though by no means revolutionary to the genre, Bungie did well with inclusion of Forge and it should be well received by all players.
You've got your screenshots, saved clips, and map variants, and now you want to share them with the world. Go for it. If you're an Xbox Live Gold subscriber, six files can be uploaded and held on Bungie.net where other users can browse and download them to there console. If you feel that six slots won't satisfy your file-sharing needs, dishing out 750 Microsoft Points boosts your slots to 24, and affectionately changes your bland "Bungie" account to the coveted "Bungie Pro" account. Just like capturing your files, sharing them is as simple as pressing a few buttons.
Taking Everything Into Account
Saved Films and Forge can be taken advantage of by both the casual and hardcore user. Whether the use of these elements is in strategy or in fun, the significant amount of worth can easily be demonstrated given the opportunity. If you haven't bothered yet, I invite you to try these elements out — you won't be disappointed.