The last few weeks have seen more important videogame releases than the entirety of the last year, and a few days ago, arguably the biggest release of all hit store shelves: Halo 3. Bungie's long-awaited finale to their much-lauded trilogy has already managed to break all kinds of sales records, and had a Pokémon game not also been released this year, it would be a lock for best-selling game of '07. Unfortunately, since Ashlee Simpson also sells tons of albums every time she pauses from blowing Pete Wentz long enough to release a couple tracks, sales records are no determinant of quality.

The good news is Halo 3 is exactly what fans of the Halo series wanted in a sequel: It takes the best parts of the first two games, adds one of the finest iterations of Xbox Live multiplayer functionality ever created, and covers all of that gaming goodness in a glossy sheen of pretty graphics, excellent sound work, and well-designed maps that lend themselves to multiple playthroughs of both the campaign (which helps when you have friends with whom to play through the game in four-player co-op mode) and the multiplayer.

The bad news is that Halo 3 is exactly what fans of the Halo series wanted in a sequel. These games—unlike the PC first-person shooter titles they liberally steal from—lack any creativity. Halo 3 is an amalgam of things that came before wrapped in a glossy sheen, but that's all it is. You'll find no originality, nothing before unseen, and nothing that will blow your mind with how stunningly new it is—and if you didn't like Halo or Halo 2, nothing in Halo 3 is going to make you smitten.

Even lacking innovation, Halo 3 is still intensely fun. Between a single-player campaign that's easily better than the second—though not as good as the first—and a feature-rich multiplayer component, there are excellent reasons why this game is going to be the game on the 360 for years to come.