Continuing the Master Chief’s path to glory, this is part three of a four part review on the recently released Xbox One exclusive, Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Also Available On: Xbox One Exclusive
Release Date: Out Now
Originally released on the Xbox 360 in 2007, Halo 3 is the one game that seems slightly out of place in the collection. Sadly the game is still too young for an anniversary upgrade and yet it’s too old to have benefited from the technology used to create Halo 4.
As a result we are left with a game that is visually disappointing and dated when compared to the other instalments despite being upgraded to 1080p with a decent 60FPS frame-rate.
That said, Halo 3 has always been considered one of the best in the series and for good reason so don’t be too put off by the aged graphics.
Following straight on from the events of Halo 2, which left the Master Chief heading back to Earth as a stowaway on a forerunner ship piloted by the Prophet Truth, our hero crash lands in Africa where he meets up with Johnson and the Arbiter.
With Earth now under attack from Truth’s forces the chief helps the UNSC clear out the invasion forces while attempting to stop the Covenant from activating an ancient device which opens a portal to a new unknown installation, known as the Ark.
Failing to stop the activation, the Master Chief finds himself facing a second enemy as the flood exit the created portal and crash land nearby, leaving Earth open to a full infestation.
Escaping Earth and leveling the flood invested area, the Chief enters the portal and lands on the Ark where he discovers that not only is it populated by the flood but also that the installation is in the process of constructing a new Halo to replace the one destroyed by the Chief in Halo: Combat Evolved.
Realising that the newly built Halo could be activated to destroy both the Ark and itself the Chief begins a mission to do just that.
The story campaign is as fun as it was more than seven years ago, it should be, it looks and feels identical. The narrative is fantastic and runs at a great pace so it’s very difficult to bore of this story. As a conclusion to the original trilogy story Halo 3 works well, continuing the story while bringing us right back to the very beginning as the Master Chief faces the consequences of his previous actions.
It’s a shame that the developers decided against continuing the Arbiter side story which allowed the player to play as a different character in Halo 2 but with so much story to tell regarding the Master Chief’s adventure it’s understandable.
Unfortunately though, the campaign is far too short for how big a story they’re trying to tell, six hours will likely see anyone proficient with FPS games hit the end credits and when you compare that to its predecessors or even other games of the time, that’s about half what we’d expect out of a game of this potential magnitude.
Throwing that disappointment well out of the way and focusing on how it plays,to be honest, it’s awesome.
Carrying on the tradition of Halo games giving more to the player then their predecessor, Halo 3 doesn’t disappoint. We are treated to more guns, new vehicles and new enemies from both the flood and the Covenant.
Many of Halo 2’s improvements to the gaming mechanics were carried over, including the ability to attack enemy vehicles by jumping on and throwing a grenade in the engine as well as the improvements to basic movement and aiming.
The action was yet again scaled up considerably, even the enemy and ally AI seem to have been upgraded from Halo 2, their ability to change a scenario significantly improved. This makes certain points in the game a pleasant challenge, one that sticks prolifically in my mind is an awesome boss style (but no quite) attack on a Covenant Scarab.
Where Halo 3 became legendary though back in 2007 was in the multiplayer and fully online coop. Utilising the advanced Xbox Live of the 360 certainly served this sequel well allowing for a much more social experience not only in a competitive environment but also working as part of a team on the campaign itself.
For the first time in Halo history you could play through the entire campaign online with four players. At the time this was quite ground breaking, not just for this series but for the console FPS genre in general. It wasn’t the first but at the time it was certainly the best.
The competitive multiplayer of Halo 3 shaped the future of the series moving forward, in fact even the Master Chief Collection’s fully integrated four game multiplayer takes its basic template from what Halo 3 brought to the series. It’s a legacy which helped make the spin-off games, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach much more enjoyable.
In addition to setting a number of multiplayer standards which have since been picked up by other big franchises, Halo 3’s multiplayer gave players so much more freedom then had been seen before. Through the forge option players could create their own scenarios, their own battlegrounds with an infinite number of possibilities available.
In addition Halo 3 offered players the option to record their game-play in-game. Now, of course, this is built directly into the console but at the time, for a first person shooter this was truly brilliant. Bungie gave Halo fanatics the ability to brag about their conquests by sharing “movies” of their exploits via cloud storage. When you imagine this was seven years ago and the only place we had really seen this functionality on consoles was in EA sports games this was an intelligent move which really helped put Halo 3 firmly in the history books.
While its place in history is assured though, the modern version of the game doesn’t benefit from the now aged functionality. Improvements in technology means that much like Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, we have new integrated multiplayer functionality which while setting a brilliant standard it doesn’t seem to have the same wow factor that this original did.
Audio wise, this is the best in the series by far. The ambient soundtrack is so stunning that I could happier sit on the menu screen listening to that music all day long, this is one aspect of the game that doesn’t need any upgrading. Vocal talents match what we’ve come to expect from the series and therefore don’t disappoint.
If we were looking at Halo 3 using the standards we’d expect from the Xbox 360 then it would be hard to deny that this game offers some of the most fun experiences you’re going to get from a console based FPS.
We are however looking at what should have been something of an upgrade as the game is ported to the much more powerful Xbox One. As a result the game does lose some of its charm, not because the game-play isn’t as fun or the game doesn’t match up to its original but because the expectations set by the anniversary editions of its predecessors leave us wanting something that looks a little more up to date, something more modern.
That said six hours spent on this far too short, graphically dated single-player campaign will bring much more fun into your gaming life than six hours of game-play on last year’s graphically stunning Destiny.
Roll on 2017 and the Halo 3: Anniversary Edition.