Can you believe that Halo 3 was released 7 years ago? I can't. I remember putting so many hours into that game back in high school. I can't believe it has been so long since it came out. Since Bungie has a fascination with the number 7 it seems like the perfect time to look back at Halo 3 today on its 7th anniversary.
By today's standards, the graphics in Halo 3 look a bit dated but back in the day the game looked pretty damn beautiful and detailed, hell, the game still looks damn good. The scenic jungle of the first mission, Sierra 117 still stands out to me because of all the beautiful details that might have been missed if you weren't looking closely.
Right from the beginning the game looked so much better than Halo 2 thanks to the increased capabilities of the 360. The rays of light breaking through the trees in the start of Sierra 117 caught really caught my attention and I knew that this game was going to look amazing.
The waterfall a bit further on in the mission is usually something you would quickly walk right by but when you look at it closely it is quite a beautiful sight. And the later parts of the mission with Mt. Kilimanjaro rising in the distance were quite stunning. I remember glitching outside the map to get this perfect screenshot that served as my desktop wallpaper for a few years,
Mission number three, Tsavo Highway, also featured some great visuals. The wreckage of the Mombasa Tether scattered across the Savannah added a nice level of detail and halfway through you can get a great view of the Forerunner dreadnought waiting for the portal to the Ark to open.
When you finally go to the Ark in the sixth mission simply titled The Ark, you finally got a good look at one of the beautiful Forerunner installations in a much higher quality than the first two games.
The desert you are dropped in is visually stunning with interesting triangular dunes, Forerunner structures protruding from the rocks, the arms of the Ark in the distance, and the whole Milky Way galaxy up in the sky. The end of the mission brings you to the edge of the desert with a breathtaking vista of a great ocean pouring down into the depth of the Ark in a massive waterfall with the rest of the Ark in background.
The next mission, The Covenant, had visuals reminiscent of the first mission on the Halo ring in the first game with the tall coniferous trees and grassy hills and cliff-faces.
And the many islands scattered across the horizon as you look out into the ocean.
The culmination of the whole trilogy sees you returning to a familiar snowy canyon, the control room of the newly rebuilt Installation 04, the first Halo ring. Capturing the fond memories of one of the most beloved campaign missions in the Halo franchise, Assault on the Control Room, the final mission was a great way to end the journey.
And as if it couldn't get any better, the game concludes with a callback to the last mission of the first game with a race against time in the warthog as the world falls apart around you. Driving across the still-under-construction ring world with the Ark in the sky above brought one last breathtaking view.
Halo 3 was such a beautiful game all the way through, not just as an epic conclusion to the trilogy but also in terms of it's amazing art. Looking back at this game fills me with nostalgia for the early days of the 360 and with excitement to play through it once more in the upcoming Master Chief Collection.