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Information about Halo 3Halo 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie exclusively for the Xbox 360. The game is the third title in the Halo series and concludes the story arc that began in Halo: Combat Evolved and continued in Halo 2. The game was released on sep. 25, 2007 (10 years ago) in Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, North America, and Singapore; sep. 26, 2007 (10 years ago) in Europe; and sep. 27, 2007 (10 years ago) in Japan. On the day before its official release, 4.2 million units of Halo 3 were in retail outlets.
Halo 3's story centers on the interstellar war between 26th century humanity, led by the United Nations Space Command, and a collection of alien races known as the Covenant. The player assumes the role of the Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced supersoldier, as he wages war in defense of humanity, assisted by human Marines as well as an allied alien race called Elites, which is led by the Arbiter. The game features vehicles, weapons, and gameplay not present in previous titles of the series, as well as the addition of saved gameplay films, file sharing, and the Forge map editor; a utility which allows the player to perform modifications to multiplayer levels.
Halo 3 grossed US$300 million in its first week. More than one million people played Halo 3 on Xbox Live in the first twenty hours. As of Jan. 3, 2008 (9 years ago), Halo 3 has sold 8.1 million copies, and was the best-selling video game of 2007 (10 years ago) in the U.S. Overall, the game was very well-received by critics, with the Forge and multiplayer offerings singled out as strong features. By Mar. 2009 (8 years ago) more than 1 billion online matches had been played. A prequel to the game, Halo 3: ODST, is currently under development.
GameplayThe gameplay of Halo 3 builds upon the previous iterations of the franchise; it is a first-person shooter which takes place on foot, but also includes segments focused on vehicular combat. The balance of weapons and objects in the game was adjusted to better adhere to what Bungie Studios Multiplayer Designer Lars Bakken describes as the "Golden Triangle of Halo". These are "weapons, grenades, and melee", which are available to a player in most situations. Halo 3 contains the ability to dual-wield, where a player forgoes grenades and melee attacks in favor of the combined firepower of two weapons simultaneously. Most weapons available in previous installments of the series return with minor cosmetic and power alterations. Unlike previous instalments, the player's secondary weapon is visible on their player model, holstered or slung across the player's back. Halo 3 introduces "support weapons", which are exceptionally large, powerful, and cumbersome two-handed weapons which drastically limit the player's normal combat options and slow them significantly, but offer greatly increased firepower in return. In addition to weapons, the game contains a new class of usable items called Equipment; these items are found in the game world and have various effects and functions, ranging from defensive screens to shield regeneration and flares. Only one piece of equipment can be carried at a time. The game's vehicular component has been expanded with new drivable and A.I.-only vehicles.
Halo 3 also adds new features not directly related to gameplay. One such feature, known as Forge, is a map-editing tool that enables players to insert and remove game objects, such as weapons and crates, into existing multiplayer maps. Almost all weapons, vehicles, and interactive objects can be placed and moved on maps with Forge. Players can enter Forge games and edit and manipulate objects in real time. A budget limits the amount of objects that can be placed. Another new feature are 'Saved films', which allows players to save up to 100 movies of gameplay to their Xbox 360's hard drive, viewing the action from any angle and at different speeds. The Saved movies are only game data (not an actual video) and this allows the file sizes to be smaller than a true recording. All games are recreated in real-time on the Xbox 360 using the Halo 3 engine. Halo 3 offers a form of file sharing, where items such as saved films, screenshots, and custom variants can all be uploaded to the 'File Share'. Anyone can browse user created content that has been uploaded to Bungie's website on a personal computer and tag it to automatically download to their console next time they sign into Xbox Live on Halo 3.
CampaignHalo 3's campaign contains nine levels, which complete the storyline of the Halo trilogy. The campaign can be played through alone, with two-players on one Xbox 360, or played cooperatively with up to three other players via Xbox Live or System Link. Instead of having each player be an identical Spartan as in previous Halo games, the first player plays as Master Chief, the second player plays as the Arbiter and the other two players control two other Elites; N'tho 'Sraom and Usze 'Taham, each with their own backstories. No matter which character is played, each player has identical abilities, though their starting weapons vary. A.I. behavior was enhanced and improved; the behavior of enemy Brutes the player faces was modified, giving them a "pack mentality" that causes the aliens to perform similar actions at the same time and altering gameplay. There are various Forerunner computer terminals hidden throughout the campaign which can be accessed and provide background storyline information.
Halo 3's campaign features a scoring method called the "meta-game", which can introduce a competitive aspect to cooperative play. Players are awarded points for defeating enemies while completing a level in the campaign. Extra points are awarded for certain actions (such as performing headshots or defeating multiple enemies in rapid succession), and are lost if the player dies or kills a teammate. Hidden skulls (based on the Easter egg skulls in Halo 2 (22 walls)) can be found on each level and then subsequently activated before future missions to cause changes in the gameplay; such as giving the enemies extra health, changing in-game dialogue, or modifying a specific A.I. behavior. These skulls, as well as the difficulty level and the speed at which the level is completed, provide multipliers to the total score. Players are awarded gamerscore points for successfully reaching a certain score in each level, and medals are awarded for specific accomplishments.
MultiplayerOn a single console, up to two players can play campaign and up to four can participate in a versus multiplayer match through use of split screen. Through use of LAN or Xbox Live, up to four players can play together in campaign, up to eight can customize a map in Forge mode, and up to sixteen can participate in versus multiplayer matches. (Each console must retain their respective split screen limitations.) A public beta test of the game's online multiplayer features, as well as saved movies and file share, took place four months before the full release. Statistics from all games that are completed by players while connected to Xbox Live are also uploaded to the respective player's "service record" on Bungie.net.
Players must actively seek out other players through their Xbox Live Friends list, using the party invite system, or the LAN search feature to play multiplayer matches with their own custom rules and customized maps. If they are connected to Xbox Live however, a player can choose to have the game decide for them the exact rules and map to play on, as well as finding additional people to play against or with, using the "Matchmaking" system (the automated grouping of players of similar skill). A player will decide from a selection of developer designed "playlists" which each contain a certain way to experience the game. The games contained within a playlist can range from 1 vs 1 free for all, to 8 vs 8 team play, often focusing on either deathmatch games (known as "Slayer" in Halo), objective games (e.g. Capture the Flag) or a combination of the two. The playlists are regularly updated; either to remove unpopular types of games or map variants, fix ones that do not work well, or to introduce entirely new gametypes or whole playlists.
Like other multiplayer Xbox 360 titles, Halo 3 uses a customized version of TrueSkill ranking system for its matchmaking on a per-playlist basis (i.e. a player's performance in one playlist will not affect who they are matched against in another playlist). On top of this, a linear measure of a player's experience with the matchmade portion of the game and each particular playlist (as of TU2) is also tracked (denoted as EXP). Rank insignia are unlocked and displayed by a player's Gamertag as they attain certain totals of EXP (and/or skill level). To help players have an enjoyable time online, several peace-of-mind features are implemented within easy reach, such as avoid/feedback options on a player's service record, as well as voice chat mute straight from the in-game scoreboard. Like Halo 2 (22 walls), Halo 3 supports downloadable content and updates.
PlotTaking place shortly after the events of the comic mini-series, Halo: Uprising, Halo 3 begins with the Master Chief entering Earth's atmosphere and crashing to the ground in eastern Africa, where he is found by Sgt. Major Johnson and the Arbiter. The Chief, Johnson, and company fight their way out of the jungle and arrive at a UNSC outpost. Here, Commander Keyes and Lord Hood plan a last-ditch effort to stop the Covenant leader, the High Prophet of Truth, from activating a Forerunner artifact uncovered outside the ruins of the city of New Mombasa. The Chief is ordered to clear a way into the city of Voi and to destroy all anti-air Covenant defenses so Hood can lead the last of Earth's ships against the Prophet. Using the opening caused by the ground attack, Hood mounts an offensive against Truth's ship, but the Prophet activates the buried artifact which creates an enormous slipspace portal. As the human ships recover from the shock wave, Truth and his followers enter the portal, while a ship controlled by the Flood crash-lands nearby. Elite forces, allied with humanity, arrive and vitrify Flood-infected areas of Earth, neutralizing the parasitic threat. Following the cryptic message from the human artificial intelligence Cortana left aboard the Flood cruiser, the Chief, Arbiter, Elites, Johnson, Keyes and a handful of Marines follow Truth through the portal. Joining them is the Forerunner construct 343 Guilty Spark, who aids the Chief as he no longer has any function to fulfill after the destruction of his Halo installation in Halo: Combat Evolved.
Traveling through the portal, the humans and Elites discover an immense artificial structure, the Ark, far beyond the edges of the Milky Way galaxy. Here Truth can activate all the Halos. The Chief and company activate the installation's map room to find Truth at the Ark's control room. During their journey, the Flood arrive en masse on the former Covenant Holy City High Charity, and begin infesting the installation. While attempting to gain access to The Ark' Control Room, Johnson is captured by Truth; the prophet needs a human to utilize the Forerunner technology. Attempting to rescue Johnson, Keyes is killed by the prophet, and Johnson is forced to activate the rings. The Flood leader Gravemind forges a temporary truce with the Chief and Arbiter in an effort to stop Truth. The Arbiter, Master Chief, and Flood forces arrive and overwhelm Truth's guards, rescuing Johnson and halting the installations' firing. After the Arbiter kills Truth, Gravemind turns on the Chief and Arbiter, who escape the Flood's grasp.
The Chief, Arbiter and Guilty Spark discover that the Ark is creating a new ringworld to replace the one previously destroyed. The Chief decides to activate only this new ring to eliminate the local Flood while sparing the galaxy at large. Before he can activate the ring, however, he needs an Activation Index. Knowing that Cortana acquired a copy of one on the first Halo, he rescues the AI from High Charity and creates a chain reaction to destroy the infested city and severely damage the Gravemind.
Arriving on the new Halo, Cortana warns that the Gravemind is trying to rebuild itself on the ring. The Chief, the Arbiter, and Johnson make their way to the control room, where they will activate Halo's weapon. Guilty Spark explains that because the ring is not yet complete, a premature activation will destroy it and the Ark. When Johnson ignores his warning, Guilty Spark kills him to protect "his" ring. The Chief destroys Guilty Spark, activates the ring, and escapes the ring's blast on a frigate, Forward Unto Dawn.
Only the front half of Forward Unto Dawn, carrying the Arbiter, makes it through the portal. Believing the Chief and Cortana to have perished, a memorial service is held for the fallen heroes of the human and Covenant war. After the memorial service, the Arbiter departs for his home planet, where the Elites are finally free of the Prophets' hegemony. Meanwhile, the rear half of Forward Unto Dawn floats in unknown space. Cortana drops a beacon, but realizes it may be years before they are rescued. The Chief enters cryonic sleep, telling Cortana to "wake me, when you need me." If the game is completed at the highest difficulty level, the scene continues to show the piece of Forward Unto Dawn drifting towards a mysterious planet.
DevelopmentInitial conception for Halo 3 was done before the game's predecessor, Halo 2 (22 walls) was released in 2004 (13 years ago). For a period after this, much of the staff were still preoccupied in making extra content for Halo 2 (22 walls), while others continued with the groundwork for the development of Halo 3. Bungie remained almost completely silent as to what their new project was for the next year and half, occasionally leaving comments in their weekly update alluding to a "new project." Due to the cliff-hanger ending of Halo 2 (22 walls), many observers correctly speculated that Bungie's new project was Halo 3.
The game was officially announced with a real-time cinematic trailer at E3 2006 (11 years ago). Similarly to the development of Halo 2 (22 walls), Bungie kept the public informed on game development via "Bungie Weekly Updates". During development, the game was divided into single player and multiplayer builds; this made debugging and testing the much smaller multiplayer files quicker. While details of Halo 3's multiplayer were widely disseminated in the sixteen months leading up to the release, the single-player aspect of the storyline was kept relatively secret throughout much of the development to build up interest. The first campaign screenshots did not appear until a year after the announcement trailer, on Jul. 5, 2007 (10 years ago), as a "tease" for the planned pace of marketing.
GraphicsHalo 3 utilizes a proprietary, in-house graphics engine, often referred to as the "Halo 3 Engine". As detailed on the Bungie Studios website, it employs advanced graphics technologies such as High Dynamic Range, global lighting and depth of field effects within cutscenes. Motion blurring was absent from the beta, but was added to the final game. Most of the dynamic objects in the game cast real-time shadows on themselves and the environment around them, including the game's plant life. Halo 3 uses normal, bump, and parallax mapping to give surfaces more detail without dramatically increasing the number of polygons. Players can see distances of up to ten miles (16 km) away, all fully three-dimensional. Real time reflections were written into the engine; however, they are often unused as Bungie considered it a waste of resources.
Halo 3 does not natively render at true HD resolution (at least 720 lines of vertical resolution). In a Bungie Weekly Update, it was confirmed that the game renders at 1152×640 resolution instead of the usual 1280×720 (HD) resolution that most Xbox 360 games use. This is because Halo 3 uses two frame buffers instead of the usual one, so the lower resolution allowed Bungie to preserve as much of the dynamic range as possible for the game's lighting without adversely affecting the frame rate. The image (wallpaper) can be upscaled to 1080p by the Xbox 360.
AudioAs with all titles on the Xbox 360, Halo 3 fully supports 5.1 surround sound audio. In the game, there are over 50,000 pieces of audio, with nearly 40,000 of those being NPC dialogue. This is far more than in either of the preceding Halo titles; Halo 2 (22 walls) had over 15,000 pieces of dialogue. The AI controlling this dialogue is designed to ensure the exchanges flow naturally and convincingly. Separate recordings were made for nearby and distant gunfire to make for a more believable sound experience in the public beta, and the finished game uses Waves Audio plugins to modify dialog and other audio in-game depending on conditions. Distant gunfire sounds, which may first seem like prerecorded ambient sound, may often be the result of an actual firefight happening elsewhere in the game.
Marty O'Donnell again composed the original score for the game. Some pieces of the game's music are produced with a much larger real orchestra than any pieces in the prior two games. For example, the music for the announcement trailer was recorded with a 60-piece orchestra and a 24-piece choir. Halo 3 is the first game in the series to feature custom soundtracks, allowing players to replace in-game music with their own choices. The Halo 3 Original Soundtrack was released on Nov. 20, 2007 (10 years ago). Included on the soundtrack is an original composition submitted by fans and judged by Nile Rodgers, Michael Ostin, and Marty O'Donnell.
CastVoice actors returning to reprise their roles in Halo 3 include Jen Taylor as Cortana, David Scully as Sergeant Johnson and the Elites, Keith David as the Arbiter, Tim Dadabo as 343 Guilty Spark, Ron Perlman as Lord Hood, Robert Davi as Rtas 'Vadum, and Steve Downes as the voice of Master Chief. The game also features new voices, with Terence Stamp and Justis Bolding replacing Halo 2 (22 walls) voice actors Michael Wincott and Julie Benz (5 walls) as the Prophet of Truth and Miranda Keyes respectively. Additional voices include celebrity presenter Jonathan Ross, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Katee Sackhoff, and John DiMaggio. Members of the Halo machinima Red vs. Blue (Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Matt Hullum, Jason Saldaņa, Geoff Ramsey, and Joel Heyman) have a cameo role.
ReceptionHalo 3 was given favorable reviews from game critics. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game has an average score of 93%, based on 90 reviews, making it the seventh best reviewed Xbox 360 game to date. On Metacritic, the game has an average score of 94 out of 100, based on 74 reviews.
Pro-G assured readers in its review that Halo 3 lived up to the hype, saying that the game "is everything we hoped it would be, and much, much, more". Many publications, including Eurogamer and Games Radar stated that the "winning formula" of Halo and Halo 2 (22 walls) was unchanged, but the addition of new features and weapons prevented stagnation. Most publications agreed that multiplayer was by far one of the best features; IGN said that the multiplayer map lineup was the strongest of the series, and Gamespy added that the multiplayer offering will make "Halo [veterans] weep big sloppy sobs of joy". The Forge level editor and saved movies features were singled out as particularly strong features, in addition to superb voice acting and Martin O'Donnell's rich score.
Reception of the single-player aspect varied greatly. Pro-G said that while the cliffhanger ending of Halo 2 (22 walls) was disappointing, the campaign of Halo 3 "is anything but"; GameSpot and GameSpy, meanwhile, said that the campaign was too short, especially on easier difficulty levels. IGN was highly critical of the eighth level, stating "the penultimate chapter is so bad, just thinking about it puts a rotten taste in my mouth." The New York Times said the game had a "throwaway" plot and Total games judged the single-player aspect ultimately disappointing.
Other complaints focused on the artificial intelligence; critics praised the enemy AI but complained that the intelligence of the player's allies was far poorer. Bryan Vore of Game Informer said that human faces and some textures were just "embarrassing". Game Informer criticized the occasional repeated environments and poor final boss battle, and both IGN and CinemaBlend.com said that they thought a part of the story was lost by not having the Arbiter featuring as prominently as the character was in Halo 2.
Halo 3 was nominated for seven awards from the Spike TV Awards, of which it won "Best Multiplayer Game" and "Most Addictive Video Game Fueled by Dew". It won TIME magazine's "Game of the Year" and IGN chose it as the Best Xbox 360 Online Multiplayer Game and Innovative Design of 2007 (10 years ago). Halo 3 won "Multiplayer Game of the Year" and "Geezer Game of the Year" as awarded by Geezer Gamers as well as runner-up for "Best Shooter". The Visual Effects Society awarded Bungie the "Best Real Time Visuals in a Video Game" for Halo 3. Halo 3 took the Calvin Award for "Best Videogame" as selected by Box Office Prophets. Halo 3 also took the award for Xbox 360 Game of the Year 2007 (10 years ago) from Gametrailers.com, and was voted by fans as Game of the Year on G-Phoria. Halo 3 won the Edge Award For Interactive Innovation in Aug. 2008 (9 years ago).
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