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Halo 3

Halo 3 resumes on the Xbox 360 the story that started in Halo 2. If you play this in the Master Chief Collection, it wasn't remastered like the previous 2 games, so its authentic "early Xbox 360" looks can be jarring. Visually, it didn't age as well as the other Xbox 360 games in the MCC.

It terms of gameplay innovation, it also feels a bit like a step backwards, especially by its removal of dual-wielding weapons and being able to play as a Covenant alien. Otherwise though, it feels like a game that was able to fully achieve its vision in Halo 2 due to the technical limits of the original Xbox and Halo 2's limited development time. The levels are large and detailed, vehicules are even larger, the battles involve more elements at the same time, and so on.

Its story is more straightforward and runs towards what could have been the conclusion to the whole series. This is why Bungie's two remaining games in the series are a prequel to Halo CE and some story that takes place between Halo 2 and 3.

By this point, Halo 3 is confident about what makes a "Halo game". It is technically superior, isn't distracted by trying to innovate too much, and so I consider it to be the most representative Halo game in the series. Later games are either not made by Bungie or don't feature "Master Chief" as their main character. Also, Halo 3 sold very well and is old enough (released 17 years ago) to be fondly remembered as a "classic".

And I agree that this is a "classic". From my experience, it was a nearly perfect FPS game. Apart from the infamous "Cortana" level, all levels were incredibly good. The art, though not the best of the Halo games on the Xbox 360, was amazing. The story was engaging from beginning to end. In short, that game convinced me that the hype around the Halo series was well warranted.

Halo 3: ODST

While the "Halo: Reach" game was still being built, another team within Bungie released "Halo 3: ODST", using the same game engine as Halo 3. ODST brought in a few innovations of its own. It has a "hub" level that ties in the later levels, each about a different member of the ODST, similar to "Marathon Infinity". Another first for the series is an in-game map, something we could take for granted in earlier FPS games that vanished when FPS games moved to fully 3D environments. While your character's shield recharches as in previous Halo games, for the first time your base health doesn't heal automatically, and instead you have to pick up health items. Night vision googles can also be used in low-light environments.

Its story happens during the events of Halo 2 and 3, yet is self-contained, making it easier to follow and more accessible than the rest of the series.

It's just a shame that ODST's single-player campaign is so short. While it is not as technically impressive as Reach, released a year later by Bungie on the same Xbox 360 console, ODST feels closer to the "classic Halo" gameplay compared to Destiny's influence on Reach.

Published on June 16, 2024 at 13:45 EDT

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