Halo 3

Halo 3 was created by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studio on 2007-09-25. Halo 3 is a First Person Shooter (FPS) game.

Halo 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 September 25, 2007 in Australia, Brazil, India, New Zealand, North America, and Singapore; September 26, 2007 in Europe; and September 27, 2007 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 January 3, 2008, Halo 3 has sold 8.1 million copies, and was the best-selling video game of 2007 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 March 2009 more than 1 billion online matches had been played. A prequel to the game, Halo 3: ODST, is currently under development.

Gameplay

The 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 films of gameplay to their Xbox 360's hard drive, viewing the action from any angle and at different speeds. The Saved Films 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.

Campaign

Halo 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. 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) 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.

Multiplayer

On 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 films 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, Halo 3 supports downloadable content and updates.

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