Welcome to the third part of this thrilling series looking over and remembering the various titles all throughout the Halo franchise! I now have the honour of talking about one of my favourite games of all time. This was the first game for my Xbox 360, and set to be the final game in the franchise. Bungie would ensure that any development issues that hit 2 would not alter the next game. With an even larger hype train around it, there would be a lot of expectations from the fans. Halo 3 was an emotional thrill ride from start to finish and I have a lot to remember about it.
The 3rd game in the Halo series was released September 25th 2007 and was set to be the final game. Before we get into the game itself, let’s look back at how Bungie handled the development. Halo 2’s problem was showing an unplayable version of the game which would not represent the final version. With Halo 3 we had a multiplayer beta months before release. This was an excellent way to do things, as Bungie would allow players to experience what was in store, while giving enough time to make changes based on feedback. The game was also completed a lot earlier to ensure they would be able to release on target.
Halo 3 brought everything about the halo series into the next generation. The story set to be a final fight to take back humanity, playing through you feel as if you are exhausting your final options to save the planet. It’s easier to appreciate the actual narrative behind this game, as the success of previous games came from how it was presented to us. Exciting soundtracks, explosions and memorable cut-scenes. Halo 3 does all of this while maintaining an interesting and emotional story for the player. With the story in mind let’s look at the missions we played through.
Story. Amazing. Gameplay. Fun. Johnson… a legend – Will
With only 9 missions you’d expect a shorter finale to the trilogy. However these missions are mainly lengthened with the use of large open combat areas. This is where the game calls back to the level design of Halo CE, instead of fast paced corridor fights we are brought back to vehicle sections that remind us of walking on the ring the first time 6 years ago. The only complaint I had with the missions and narrative was the penultimate mission Cortana. Cortana wasn’t the build up to the end as it could have been, and suffered some level design flaws that made people generally hate it. I’d agree in hating this mission as it just feels out of place right before the final fight. Despite this, it stands as my favourite story and narrative out of the original trilogy.
Marty brings back the signature Halo sound into the finale with some amazing set pieces and ambient music. While it is not as explosive and large as the previous games, it combines together to make a flawless set of sound design. You can feel the excitement and emotion through every note, this is mainly from the feeling that you are fighting for the end. The soundtrack even carries forward to the present day, we hear a track and we start to miss the old days. But what made the old days so good?
I remember back when I first got my first halo game and you came round before I had live. We would drive crazy mongooses into each other and take photos. – Sam
Easy. The multiplayer. Multiplayer will be talked about in two different sections here, starting with traditional online. With the Xbox 360, Xbox Live was brought up to the front, and was becoming even more popular every day. Obviously Halo 3 cashed in on this and brought in new ideas to the net. Similar to the story, Halo 3 has a slow paced sense of action compared to halo 2, and the maps feel this way too as they are generally much larger. This can make the experience lacklustre in comparison to the action of it’s predecessor but for me it was around the time multiplayer was why people played games, and it kept me going for years on end.
However the traditional battles for levels wasn’t even the main selling point in Halo 3. You see there was the great days of Forge and custom games. When you ask people about why Halo 3 was so special to them they will always mention the full lobbies and party games. Forge was a map making tool used to modify existing maps. Some maps could be adjusted in small ways, moving weapons spawns and laying down extra cover. However some were entirely new canvases which could be built to create races, custom multiplayer maps, party games and whatever came to the imagination of the creator. I have more than enough memories of forge to last a lifetime. Me and my friends would always create maps with different ideas behind them, including cafes and race tracks.
Forge was the best thing to ever happen to Halo. Halo 3 was clunky in this regard, but the fun I had will never be lost. Similar to retro games nowadays, the old mini-games made with forge always and will forever have my heart. – Joe
Custom games was where you put these and and existing maps into play. Beside the map you could change the gameplay, ranging from movement speed, damage output and weapons allowed. This meant you could find a perfect game type for the maps you made. Say you wanted a more fast paced game to go with this small 4v4 map you made, no problem, crank those settings up. Remembering all of this I realised what it was that made Halo 3 so special in peoples hearts. It was the community. The series had broke into the internet and allowed people to make new friends and share many laughs.
Bungie even gave the tools to do more than simply edit maps and add friends. The game shipped with a file share system where community favourites would be on display for all to see. Meaning you always had something new to see each week. Each player could individually share their own favourites to their profile encouraging you to look at strangers profile to find new things. Halo 3 even innovated with the release of a theatre system. This would allow you to watch campaign and multiplayer matches back from a range of views and speeds. You could watch an amazing crash in slow motion and take screenshots of funny poses. This made for some hilarious images being shared around as well as artistic set pieces. This is a feature I didn’t appreciate at the time, but after finding some old videos of playing with friends I found myself flooded by the screams of 12 year old me yelling at everyone.
I took a day off school and played halo 3 the whole day. Sometime in the morning when I was playing infection, I met this guy, never spoke to him, but we partied up and played infection all day, won every game, we were great. I friended him but never played again with him. – Sam
Halo 3 was the king of community. It was the last time I felt part of something greater in a video game that wasn’t actually the game itself. I do miss the days, but I’m thankful for being part of it at the time. Playing the game taught me lessons about friendship and was really the source of happiness growing up. So before I get onto the next game I just want to thank anyone who played with me online, some people would stick around for maybe a game or two. Others would be part of the same community for many more years as we grew up. So I owe a lot to the game and could probably think back everyday to custom games and the campaign.
Halo 3 for what it created and left in my mind. Keeps a 10/10.