Posted July 15, 2020 by Andrew Cathie in Feature

Halo 3 Is Still An Amazing Experience 13 Years Later On PC

I don’t think there’s any disputing that Halo is a massive franchise, but it’s one that I’ve to pretty late. While I played the odd bits and pieces of games in the franchise on friends consoles, it was only 18 months ago that I completed Halo: Combat Evolved for the first time, and my first playthrough of Halo 2 was only completed a few months ago. Both of these playthroughs came courtesy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the fantastic collection of every Halo game from 1 to 4. Now, with the release of Halo 3 on the PC version of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, I’ve shifted over, and what I found was a game that still feels absolutely phenomenal to play, even if it looks a little dated at times.

Halo 3 continues directly on from the end of Halo 2, as the Master Chief arrives back on Earth. The Covenant High Prophet of Truth is trying to gain access to a Forerunner artefact and through it, a Universe shattering power. With him comes the full brunt of the Covenant, ready to annihilate any who gets in the way of their Prophet’s plans. As you can expect, with the end of the universe potentially at hand, Chief and the UNSC throw everything they have at the Covenant, resulting in a game full of bombast and spectacle that is still highly engaging today. The writing isn’t as good as some games today, but it was still good enough to pull me in and have me wanting to know what happened next. Whether you’re blasting through waves of Covenant with a Scorpion tank or blowing the legs out of a colossal Scarab, there was never a moment that felt dull in my playthrough. This is partly because the game is a relatively tight and short affair. This isn’t a negative, in fact many games today could benefit from slimming down a bit.

Where Halo 3 truly shines on PC is how incredibly well the game runs and handles. I played through the entirety of the game using a controller, and the game felt significantly more responsive and fun than most recent shooters I’ve played. Never once did I feel like I was battling with the controls. Instead, I felt like I was flying through the game, laying waste to my enemies as I effortlessly flicked between them and blasted them to nothing with my dual-wielded Spikers. Running at 2560x1440p the game never once wavered from 60fps, with absolutely no issues with frame pacing, hitching or streaming. While that might be expected, what it really meant was that the gameplay flowed incredibly well, helping heighten just how good it felt. Having recently played through Halo 2, there wasn’t really an adjustment period to the control layout, but I’m sure some might take a little while to adjust back the old Halo control scheme.

Something else that really struck me was the level design and variety in the game. With any game as old as Halo 3, there’s always the potential that the level design would feel dated or lack in variety, but that definitely isn’t the case. Throughout the game’s nine chapters, you’re frequently shifted between types of missions and areas. You’ll shift from on-foot up close shooting to vehicular combat to long-range sniping to quickly escaping overrun areas to going up against massive foes. You’re never on a single level type or pace for there to be any chance of boredom setting in.

The one area where Halo 3 falls down a little on PC is in its visuals. The game never looks outright bad, but given it’s now a teenager, it definitely shows its age a bit. Where you can truly see the game’s age is in its human faces, which look decidedly low-poly today. On the other hand, it’s environmental design still looks pretty great, even if the textures can be a bit simple. Conversely, the game’s soundtrack is nothing short of incredible. Marty O’Donnel’s compositions are still amazing to hear today, with the rise and fall in tempo and volume perfectly enhancing the experience. It regularly inspires awe as you press forward, triumphant blasts of music signalling that something amazing is about to happen. It truly is a joy to listen to.

Coming out the other side of Halo 3 on PC, it’s clear to me why the game was so highly regarded at the time, because even 13 years later it’s still a fantastic experience. The mission design is top-notch, it plays incredibly well, and the music is phenomenal, while the increase to 60fps heightens the experience. It looks a little dated visually, and the writing isn’t amazing today, but those barely detract from the overall experience. There’s no doubt in my mind that Halo 3 on PC is a fantastic game, a great port and absolutely worth the price of admission.

Rocket Chainsaw reviewed Halo 3 on Windows PC in 1440p using a Ryzen 1600x, 16GB of 3000MHZ DDR4 RAM, and an MSI Evoke OC 5700XT graphics card, with a copy provided by Xbox.

Andrew Cathie

Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.