July 14, 2020
Xbox Game Studios
343 Industries, Bungie, Ruffian Games, Saber Interactive
A deep space sky is laid out before me. Stars twinkle, almost blinding. AI Cortana’s voice welcomes me as I return on my journey. Available both as a standalone product and part of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Halo 3 is finally on PC. It’s a good thirteen years after originally releasing on Xbox 360, but better late than never right? I’m finally home, all over again.
Set as the thrilling conclusion to the original trilogy, Halo 3 went absolutely gangbusters when it released in 2007. It (like this 4K remastering), follows Master Chief, the cybernetically enhanced super-soldier’s adventures in an intergalactic war. The alien race known as the Covenant have launched their full scale assault on Earth and it is up to the soldier, with aids from the UNSC army and other friends along the way.
This story holds up quite well, if you recognise how outlandish and very video-gamey it can be. Whether it’s major character deaths or the bond between Master Chief and Cortana, there are definitely thrilling and moving moments in there. Having the higher resolution of 4K graphics definitely helps with these moments too. It’s just harder to find important moments in games as strong when they’re in far lower quality compared to the standard today. Sorry, but it would’ve been hard to feel anything today watching Johnson’s death in all its polygonal mess. Thankfully, I don’t have to!
That brings us to this aforementioned remastering. Along with a new quality resolution, players have at their disposal the ability to play at a locked 60 frames per second. As someone that never used to be a frame snob, but has recently joined the PC gaming space and sees the improvements that come with this, it excited me exponentially. Playing Halo 3 is as smooth as butter. There’s no easier way to put it. Aiming can now be whipped around so quickly and efficiently in a way that’ll make you feel like you’re seeing colour for the first time in a Halo game. Combine this with the muscle memory that comes from navigating familiar, iconic video game levels, and you’ll find yourself with a rhythm in gunplay pretty damn close to DOOM.
Halo 3 is a thrilling and wonderful re-visitation
Replaying through the game’s campaign for the first time since I was (a far too young) 10-years-old, was exciting. Shotgunning the Flood, popping grunts with a pistol whip and fragging brutes is as fulfilling as ever. With satisfying gunplay, fantastic alien, monster, weapon and vehicle designs, aesthetically Halo 3 has stood the test of time. It’s even fun playing the Bungie made trilogy now, knowing what we know now with where the studio went with Destiny. With a plethora of lore, cinematic environments and backdrops in levels, the seeds to their now popular MMO shooter is absolutely there.
“Shotgunning the Flood, popping grunts with a pistol whip and fragging brutes is as satisfying as ever.”
As a staple with the Halo franchise, multiplayer is a big-hitter for the game. It’s full of plenty game-modes, with your team deathmatch style Slayer, as well as party modes such as the hilariously thrilling King of the Hill. This alone hosts two teams of players fighting for a spot, wielding powerful hammers.
Hell, even blasting enemies to nothing with the shotgun game-mode known as SWATGUNS had me laughing with glee when I pulled off a sick kill. It was enough to excite and have me finally understand and gel with the online multiplayer side of Halo. For long time returning fans, entering those familiar maps partied up with your mates will likely feel like no time since 2007 has passed at all.
If that’s not enough for you, map modding is once more available in The Forge game mode. Set up your own rules, rearrange item drops and locations of objects, and then save it. You’ll definitely make plenty use of it on those party sessions with friends.
Sure, criticisms can be had about the Halo franchise. The image of a bro gamer, downing Mountain Dew and Doritos, jumping into MLG Halo tournaments definitely soured the game for some. For others it was the feeling that the series has lost its way over the years. Lore, though fantastic, is a bit all over the place. Hell, even just having played the game, I’d at times struggle to tell you of character’s importance and meaning in the game’s universe. However, the original trilogy of Halo, with this conclusion especially, should be fought for. It’s as important, wondrous and influential as ever.
- Halo 3 is now performing at its absolute peak in gameplay
- Wonderful gunplay, environments, enemies and world
- Hours upon hours of fun to be had in the bombastic multiplayer
- A pinnacle in gaming endings
- Won't do much to sway the franchise naysayers
I shouldn’t really have to sell you on Halo 3. Gamers already know of its influence on other media, as well as legacy and quality. What I can assure you though, is that this PC remastering does a stellar job at capturing the franchise magic once more. Really, that’s all it needed to do.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to go get my behind served to me in a game of Grifball.