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Gallery images may be from the same game for a different platform.
Halo 3 is a sci-fi first-person shooter developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft for the Xbox 360 on September 25, 2007 (later re-released through Games on Demand on April 20, 2010). The third game in the Halo franchise (and the last in the original Halo trilogy, after Halo 2), Halo 3 continues the story of the SPARTAN-II super-soldier known as Master Chief and concludes the events of the Human-Covenant War.
After escaping the Flood-infested Covenant space station High Charity via boarding the ancient ship (the Forerunner Dreadnaught) of the main antagonist (the Prophet of Truth), the Master Chief disembarks from the ship as it lands in eastern Africa. With the help of both the United Nations Space Command (mainly by Sergeant Major Avery Johnson, Commander Miranda Keyes, and Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood) and the Sangheili (mainly by The Arbiter), Master Chief must defend Earth from the remaining forces of the Prophet of Truth while both preventing Truth from activating the entire Halo array and figuring out how to end the Flood infestation, once and for all.
Halo 3 has brought various additions and changes to Halo 2's gameplay mechanics. The MA5-series Assault Rifle makes a return as the Master Chief's weapon of choice (while players can also use the powerful Spartan Laser, and various new Jiralhanae weapons, such as the Spike and Firebomb Grenades, the close-ranged Gravity Hammer, the Mauler, and the Spike Rifle). Players can now use separate buttons (defaulting to the "bumper" buttons) to reload each dual-wielded weapon (in which the secondary reload button doubles as switching grenades, if the player is not dual-wielding). Players can also carry and deploy (using the button originally used to reload) special portable "equipment" (including trip mines, gravitational lifts, and bubble shield generators). Players can also now detach stationary turrets for portable use (albeit slower movement speeds and forced third-person perspective). The game also includes new vehicles, including the UNSC's mobile transport Mongoose and the Brute's attack motorbike Chopper.
The game also includes various improvements to Halo 2's multiplayer aspect. Players can now customize the armor permutations (including helmet, shoulders, and torso) for both their Spartan and Elite soldiers (each of which must be earned by completing goals and achievements throughout the game). Players can now be easily identified by their allies in-game through a custom Service Tag (composed of a letter followed by two numbers). Halo 3 includes a more robust matchmaking system with the TrueSkill ranking system, a new experience system (with a special ranking system in which players can earn different "grades" depending on their TrueSkill rank and experience points), special playlists (including playlists that grant double experience points), and the option to veto the first given map/gametype combination. The game now includes a special Theater Mode (where players can watch game replays and crop them into smaller film clips or take screenshots) and Forge Mode (a unique in-game map editor where players can alter the placement of any weapon, spawn, item, or structure on any map) While the clan system from Halo 2 was removed, Halo 3 includes a new File Share system, in which players can upload custom gametype variants, film clips, screenshots, and "Forged" map variants into Bungie's servers, so that they can be downloaded by other players.
Bungie later created a standalone campaign, running on a heavily modified Halo 3 engine, titled Halo 3: ODST. Players play as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper known as The Rookie, who must investigate the whereabouts of his squad in the dark, dead city of New Mombasa (shortly after the events of Halo 2). Along with several new gameplay mechanics (including the VISR night-vision visor, silenced weapons, an open-world hub level, a new "stamina" system, and the introduction of the co-operative wave-based survival mode known as Firefight), the game also includes a bonus disc containing the entire multiplayer component of Halo 3 (featuring all downloadable maps, including three time-exclusive maps known as the Mythic II Map Pack). Players who completed all seven Vidmaster achievements (from both games) received a special piece of multiplayer armor: the Recon Armor (formerly given by Bungie to exceptional community players, given to all players regardless of achievement progress after March 29, 2012).
The gameplay in Halo 3 has undergone some significant changes compared to its predecessors, including simple tweaks to make it more cohesive. You may now carry "equipment," which can range from a portable gravity lift, allowing the player to lift himself into the air, to a bubble-shield, which will spawn a clear, protective bubble around whoever decides to throw it down, as well as deployable cover, which projects a small blue defense shield, as well as many others. Bungie has assigned these special abilities to the "X" button, which was previously used to reload. Players now use the RB (right bumper) to reload the main weapon and LB for the secondary weapon if they are dual-wielding, although they can decide to use one of several other pre-made control schemes.
Bungie has added a different version of the original Assault Rifle (it has about half the clip size of the version in Halo: Combat Evolved, but it deals a little more damage and has better accuracy), strengthened the Needler (though it can no longer be dual-wielded), and also included some new weapons like the Spikers (Brute sub-machine guns) and the Gravity Hammer (the Brute counterpart of the Elite Energy Sword). There are also 2 new grenade classes: The Spike Grenade and the Incendiary Grenade (AKA the firebomb grenade). The former is a Brute-made grenade that sticks to objects before sending razor-sharp spikes flying in the direction of the blast, and the latter a UNSC weapon especially useful against the zombie-like Flood. Bungie also reduced the load-out on each grenade from the previous four, to two, allowing players to carry a total of eight grenades and switch between the types with the left bumper (when not dual-wielding). A player may also pick up turrets and flamethrowers, but by using them he/she will switch into a 3rd person view, in which movement will be slightly restricted and ammo will become limited. There are also a few new vehicles like the Mongoose, a quadbike with two seats, the Hornet, which is the human equivalent to the Banshee, and the Chopper, which resembles the Ghost in that it has only one seat and can fire front-mounted cannons. One final new vehicle, the Elephant, is an enormous, invincible mobile base armed with two turrets. The Elephant appears only in the multiplayer level 'Sand Trap', and serves as each team's flag base in Capture the Flag mode, allowing players to actually move their flag around the level, albeit at a painfully slow pace.
Halo 3's campaign can be played co-operatively, locally, through System Link, and online on Xbox Live with up to four players, although only two players may play on a single Xbox 360. Unlike previous games, which just doubled the primary character, each player in Halo 3 is given a unique character; player one controls the Master Chief, player two controls the Arbiter (with small changes to the dialogue and cutscenes to reflect the fact that the Arbiter never leaves the Chief) and players three and four controlling unique Elites, who never speak and do not show up in cutscenes, though Bungie has named them N'tho 'Sraom and Usze 'Taham, respectively. In addition, Halo 3 can also be played competitively through a matchmaking service or in custom, user-created games. In matchmaking, players are matched with up to fifteen other players based on their rank and skill level in the individual "playlists", which are categorized into two groups depending on their overall purpose. Ranked playlists are used to match players based on their Trueskill rating. Social playlists allow players to play with others with no ranking system involved for each playlist, although Experience and overall skill still determines player match-ups. Few of the original achievements work in social matches, but the DLC achievements all are unlockable in social playlists. One can also still earn Experience for the playlists, as well as global and playlist-specific Experience points (EXP). Finally, every weekend, Double Experience Weekend begins that focus on a very specific playstyle or gametype, including Grifball and Infection. The playlists are:
In custom mode players can play multiplayer matches using custom game modes, settings, and maps. All modes and maps are available to play on and can be changed between matches by the party leader. Players must invite friends to play these games, however.
Halo 3 shipped with 11 maps, and subsequently released 5 DLC bundles throughout the games life. The Heroic map pack adds three maps for free, Legendary adds 3 more for $10, Mythic adds an additional 3 for $10, Mythic II adds another 3 for $10 (or free if you bought ODST new), and Cold Storage adds one map for free.
Construct is a map for 2-8 players (10 after they changed the max player count for Social Slayer) with no vehicles. It is a simple 3 leveled map which uses grav lifts as elevators. The main power weapon on this map is the Energy Sword which is found at the far end of the map on the third level.
Epitaph is probably the smallest map of the original group. This map is never played in Social Slayer because 8 (10 post patch) players is simply too much for this map. The two-levelled map has a Gravity Hammer, Shotgun, and Rocket Launcher for power weapons. Generally used in Team Doubles because 4 players is the right size for this map.
Another simple map for Social Slayer game types. This is the most symmetrical of the small maps in the game, making it a common choice for people to use for 1 v 1 matches. A spiritual successor to Halo 2's Lockout, the changes made to it to make it a more compact map with ease of use for melee started a movement of people in the first few months of the games launch to constantly veto it whenever it game up. This happens even more so now with the release of Blackout (a Lockout remake) as part of the Legendary map pack.
The first map in the game with vehicles, High Ground is a popular choice for One Flag, One Bomb, and other objective types due to the two oppositely balanced sides. The high ground team spawns next to a sniper tower with a Spartan Laser, and a couple of Mongooses for quick transportation. While the low ground spawns at the beach, next to a Ghost and the Sniper Rifle. This is a key map for the "One" objective types because it switches both teams between sides during each round.
Isolation is a pretty symmetrical map made for Attack and Defend game types and Slayer types. The upper outdoor grassy level features a few Mongooses to get around, along with a Shotgun in the barricade in the center. The underground is where the map starts to really differentiate between other maps. Underground there are two large man cannons on each side to launch players back up the the main level. A Ghost in the middle for main vehicular control of the map. And a Rocket Launcher next to the Ghost.
Reaching different ranks requires the player to gain certain amounts of EXP and, for officer ranks, reach different skill levels. Skill levels are increased when the player wins ranked games. EXP is gained from simply winning games which can be either ranked or unranked. One EXP is gained from winning a game, zero is gained from losing a game and one EXP is lost for quitting out of a game early. The Ranks in increasing order are:
Main Article: Forge
With the addition of the new Forge mode, any Halo 3 owner can completely customize every Halo 3 multiplayer map. From vehicle and weapon placement to fusion coils and equipment placement, just about everything the player can use and interact with on a map can be moved, tweaked, and adjusted to the player's liking. Once completed, all forged maps can be put on the player's file share and uploaded to Bungie.net were other players can download, comment, tag, and share their creations over the Internet. The recent maps Foundry (From the Heroic Map Pack) and Sandbox (From the Mythic Map Pack) were made specifically to cater to users of Forge. Many forging communities have arisen in the wake of these two maps releases, creating a massive number of user-generated maps. Bungie has recently taken notice of this user-generated content and has incorporated several Forge maps created in Foundry and Sandbox into both Ranked and Social matchmaking. Bungie has also regularly featured maps created by the community in their weekly updates and included interviews with their creators. A few special features of the Forge have been included in recent map packs as well, from different color affects to the Killball.
The Theater is a powerful tool allowing the viewing and saving of previously played campaign missions and multiplayer matches. The system used to create the video allows the video to maintain a size of mere kilobytes. The Theater can be used to take screenshots, save film clips, and save whole films. The camera in the Theater is not limited to a body either. The camera can be moved to any player or free-floated anywhere in the map, allowing for interesting angles and screenshots.
With the use of theater mode, users can take screenshots of their favorite moments and upload them to Bungie.net. There, players can also comment, rate, and download other users' screenshots. Bungie has used screenshots uploaded to Bungie.net in their Weekly updates.
While watching a match in Theater, people can save entire custom and matchmaking games or cut out specific parts to make video clips. These videos can then be watched through Theater by anyone who has downloaded the file from the user's File Share. Plus, as the Theater records gameplay information and not video, matches can be viewed from any angle. Unfortunately, for the same reason, the Theater clips cannot be viewed online (although the Bungie Pro Video feature alleviates this problem, see below), although you can set a video to download the next time you play Halo 3.
The File Share is available for every Halo 3 user and allows them to upload their files for others to view and download at no cost. These slots can include Films, Film Clips, Screenshots, Map Variants, Gametypes or any combination. The standard capacity for the File Share is six slots and/or 25MB, although this can be upgraded to 24 slots and 250MB via the pay service called Bungie Pro (see below).
Bungie Pro enables a number of premium features to the Halo 3 user, including an expansion of storage for your Halo 3 File Share (see above) and the ability to use Bungie Pro Video (see below). A 12-Month Bungie Pro subscription can be purchased over Xbox Live for 750 MS Points. At the end of the subscription, you'll be asked to whether you want to renew or your subscription or not. For a limited time, a trial of Bungie Pro was given as a gift to people who downloaded the Legendary Map Pack or Mythic Map Pack. The trial lasted roughly 4 months.
As of now Bungie Pro comes bundled with Bungie Pro Video. Bungie Pro Video allows you take your game film clips (which, as they are purely game data, require Halo 3 to be viewed) and turn them into videos you can watch on your computer using the .wmv format. Users are allowed 5 render minutes a month, which expire at the end of the month. Bungie has stated that users will soon be able to buy render minutes using the File Share menu at 10 minutes for 100 MSP ($1.25).
Human skulls can be found tucked away in odd corners of the Halo 3 campaign. Each one has some kind of effect on the game that can be turned on or off at the beginning of a play session. In doing so, Bungie has expanded the original skulls "Easter Egg" from Halo 2. In Halo 3, when you find a skull you can turn it on and off at will, as opposed to having to start a new save to turn it off. There are four "silver skulls" which don't give an achievement but go towards unlocking the Hayabusa armor, and nine "gold skulls" which each have their own achievement and go towards unlocking the Hayabusa armor.
Guides are available on Giant Bomb to aid in locating each skull. Additionally, six more skulls were can be found in each multiplayer map added in the downloadable Mythic Map Pack, and also in the three maps be packed in with Halo 3: ODST, with one skull per map. These skulls do not have any effects, and their only benefit is the Vidmaster achievement for finding all of them (meaning they are therefore required to achieve the coveted Recon armor).
Halo 3 has seen four Map Packs released for the game since its September 2007 launch, which are the Heroic Map Pack (initially 600 MS points, now free), Legendary Map Pack (600 MS Points), the standalone map Cold Storage (free), and the first and second half of the Mythic Map Pack (800 MS Points).
The Heroic Map Pack was released on December 11th, 2007 and included the three new maps:
The Legendary Map Pack was released on April 15th, 2008 and included the three new maps:
The Cold Storage Map Pack was released on July 7th, 2008 and included a single map. It was a "gift" from Bungie to its fans for Bungie Day '08 (July 7, 2008). Cold Storage is technically considered Legendary tier, meaning that to play it in matchmaking you must have the Legendary map pack as well.
First alluded to in the achievements Title Update 2 added, the Mythic Map Pack consists of six maps, with three bundled in with the Halo Wars Limited Edition and released onto Xbox Live Marketplace April 9th, 2009, and 3 to be bundled with Halo 3: ODST, along with every other map. Unlike with all other multiplayer maps, the Mythic Map Pack will contain six hidden skulls, with one per map. The skulls go toward unlocking the "Vidmaster" achievement. Bungie has said that once all the Vidmaster achievements are unlocked, Recon Armor will be unlocked. The last Vidmaster Achievement will be achievable when the other three maps of the "Mythic" Map Pack release with Halo 3: ODST.
The first half of the Mythic Map Pack, which first shipped with the Limited Edition version of Halo Wars and came to Marketplace April 9th, 2009 consists of:
First referenced to in the achievements Title Update 2 added to the game, the Mythic Map Pack's latter three maps were bundled in with Halo 3: ODST as maps exclusive to that package. Along with Halo 3: ODST itself, they are the last DLC content added to Halo 3 before its follow-up game, Halo: Reach. On Bungie Day '09, Bungie revealed the first screenshots and descriptions of Citadel, Longshore, and Heretic. Since February 2nd, 2010, the maps have been available to download off the Xbox Live Marketplace under the name Mythic II Map Pack.
The original soundtrack to Halo 3 was composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori and was released a few months after the game in a two disc set.
In Bungie's first mandatory Title Update, they fixed what many players were complaining about at the time, the melee system. Previously, if two players melee'd each other at the same time, the player with more shielding would die and there was a two second window that the system considered "same time." Due to the high level of complaints, Bungie came up with a new Melee system. The "same time" window was closed to about a second and the kill would often go to would hit first, but if the game determined that both players hit at the same time, both players would die, ending in a somewhat humorous death as both players flopped backwards.
In their online Weekly Update for August 1st, 2008, Bungie unveiled a new addition to the online ranking system to be implemented in the second mandatory Title Update for Halo 3. The post included a chart illustrating EXP progression in various matchmaking playlists. The update offers players another visual representation of their progress in the online game, and serves to display precisely how many victories they have earned in any given matchmaking playlist.
This is achieved by adding a new layer of specificity to the tracking of player EXP (EXP is a value that serves to illustrate how seasoned a player is in matchmade games). While a player's online Service Record still reflects their total EXP value, under the new ranking system, the player also has a visual EXP value (in the form of the same military ranks that previously existed in the online game) for each individual playlist. To clarify, this means that as a player wins more games in a particular playlist their overall EXP value responds as it normally would, but they also progress through the Halo 3 military ranks specific to that playlist. An example: A player may fancy the Team Slayer hopper over all others, and after some time and enough wins, obtain an EXP rank of General in the playlist -- however, if said player has only been competing in the Team Slayer playlist, they will have a playlist military rank of Recruit in the other playlists that they've been ignoring.
A common misconception among Halo fans after the announcement of this news was that the hard-fought rankings that they had toiled away for since first setting foot online would be made meaningless after the release of the update, because now any player who invested enough time in a certain playlist would reach the esteemed upper ranks in a much easier fashion. This concern was later proven to be immaterial, because no aspect of the previous ranking system was being modified, and the individual playlist rankings were not to be reflected in a player's Service Record.
The Title Update also introduced four new variants of existing maps, out of Epitaph came Epilogue, and out of Snowbound came Boundless. While Epilogue is entirely without shield doors, Boundless still has those in High and Low base middle entrances (to counter the possibility of grenade spamming). These new maps will replace the existing ones; they will appear in matchmaking simultaneously, however in the long run Bungie hopes to have these maps become the dominant set. In addition to these two, Sand Tarp is now a version of Sand Trap without the Elephant vehicle and with new flag capture spaces. Pit Stop is a new version of The Pit with the upper spawn areas now inaccessible. These same matchmaking policies apply to these two as well. These maps are treated as Forge variants by the game, and can therefore be played normally and saved to an Xbox 360 Hard Drive.
Halo 3 requires 5.7 GB of HDD space to be installed. However, Bungie has recommended players to not install the game, saying that due to optimizations made to the game (so that it can be played on Xbox 360 consoles with no HDD attached), playing an installed copy (either through the installation process or through Games on Demand) causes longer loading times when playing multiplayer.
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