The Halo franchise is arguably one of the most important Xbox game series, with the original game making the Xbox a must have console. Whilst the series may not be as prominent today as it once was, it’s hard to ignore the impact that Halo had. With the 10th anniversary of the release of Halo 3, the first Halo game on the Xbox 360, now is a good time to look back at what made this game such a success.
I purchased an original Xbox not long after Halo 3 was released, purely as an impulse purchase. Two of the games that came with the console were Halo and Halo 2, and after completing Halo 2 I walked into the town centre and purchased an Xbox 360 and Halo 3 that very same day. The reason for this: I wanted to know how the story was going to end. In a move that I describe as being evil but genius, Bungie ended the second game on a cliffhanger, meaning that people would need to play the third game just to get a satisfying conclusion. And boy did that tactic work.
Whilst not the end of the series as originally intended, Halo 3 definitely felt like the end of a trilogy, the end of a story, and that made its single player campaign stand out as something special. The story picked up with the Covenant occupation of Earth, Master Chiefs fight to destroy the flood, the alliance with the Elites, and the rescue of Cortana, all before a conclusion of galactic proportions that brought an end to the Covenant War.
Halo 3 managed to cram masses of story into its campaign without it feeling too bloated, or overly long. The pacing worked well at letting the story unfold at a natural and managed pace, making it more enjoyable than some other first person shooters at the time. Whilst the games graphics are somewhat more dated by today’s standards, at the time it looked phenomenal, with grand cinematic cut scene sequences that gave the game a sense of scale and awe, and helped the story to blast along.
The game also managed to improve upon the series gameplay, though without the need to try and reinvent anything. Whilst the game did introduce some new weapons, vehicles, and power-ups, it all felt like a natural progression, and fitted into an already well established universe and game-play style.
Halo 3 even continued to allow players what felt like some degree of freedom, giving players the option to go on foot, or use a number of land or air based vehicles. Whilst the game itself was still scripted and you had certain objectives that had to be completed, it at least felt like you had a number of ways in which you could attempt this and it encouraged you to try something a little different on subsequent playthroughs.
One aspect that really made Halo 3 stand out, and added to its level of success, was it’s online multi-player. Whilst not a new concept Halo 3 managed to create an incredibly well crafted and competitive multi-player experience, one that it would go on to use as a standard template for the rest of the series’ life. The Halo multi-player has gone on to be one of the most competitive and beloved online games in recent years, with players dedicating hundreds of hours, and possibly more, to perfecting their skills and increasing their rank.
Halo 3 may not be the best game when looked at beside recent first person shooters; it’s graphics aren’t the best, and some of its gameplay may not feel as intuitive as it could, but it still holds up incredibly well. Despite these slight nit-picks Halo 3 is still a very competent game, and one that was incredibly important at the time for helping push the Xbox 360 to become one of the best consoles of it’s generation.
Are you a fan of Halo 3 and the Halo series? What are your first memories of playing the game? Let us know!