If there’s one game that defines my Xbox 360 experience, it’s Halo 3. Even though its release coincided with the start of the Call of Duty boom, which about 95% of my friends played instead, no title evokes the same personal nostalgia as Halo.
Halo 3 is now a scarcely believable ten years old. I can’t boast that I’ve been fighting the Flood since day one, but, as one of the first games bought on our new 360 in 2008, the game quickly became a firm favourite of mine. I’ve been a (very) part-time gamer for a few years now, but that increases my appreciation of this masterpiece whenever I fish it out from under my bed and start playing.
The lack of Xbox Live friends proved a blessing in disguise, as it meant I could really immerse myself in the campaign – and what a campaign it is. The storyline starts where Halo 2 left off, but one of the many positives of the game is that you don’t need to know the plot to enjoy Halo 3. I had no clue what had come before, but that didn’t hinder me one bit. The variation in scenery, enemies and challenges drew me in and still feels fresh to this day. My favourite mission, ‘The Covenant’, encapsulates this: starting with an assault on the Citadel and ending with a run in with the Prophet of Truth, you face virtually every enemy in the game on foot, road and air.
No coursework, budgeting, or job applications – just the Master Chief fighting mysterious creatures in alien worlds.
Throw in awe-inspiring cinematics, which guide you through the story and allow for you to build empathy with the characters, and Halo 3 campaign emerges as the best I’ve ever played. That’s all before one of the greatest final missions in gaming history. With the all-destroying Halo activated and crashing down around you, the thrill of racing through the self-destructing scenery while you make your escape never gets old.
Nonetheless, my fondest memories come from the various multiplayer modes. The community aspect of the game was a huge part of its appeal, and the small group of friends that shared my love of Halo made it for me. Playing online produced both anger and delight. Probably more of the former than I’d like to admit, but I would always come back for more. My sharp (average) shooting with a sniper and love of roaming around in vehicles meant there was always something that piqued my interest.
The endless modifications you could make with Forge mode, the map-making and general DIY part of the game, made it an instant go-to when boredom struck. In addition to new multiplayer maps, everything from race circuits to game-breaking structures built on teleporters and catapults could be created and enjoyed with your mates. It was often the case that a couple of hours would be dedicated to building our dream map, until someone fired an accidental shot and all hell broke loose – but that was all part of the fun.
The thrill of racing through the self-destructing scenery while you make your escape never gets old
Saturday afternoons were whittled away playing split screen 2 v 2, with snacks and accusations of ‘screen-watching’ in abundance. These always ended with someone’s parents telling us to get a life and go outside, to which we responded by (reluctantly) swapping our controllers for bikes. This scenario repeated itself numerous times during my early teenage years, with Halo always the focal point.
Halo 3 takes me back to a time when life was simple. No coursework, budgeting, or job applications – just the Master Chief fighting mysterious creatures in alien worlds.