Halo 3
Released n/a
Details
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.


<b><big>Gameplay</b></big>
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.


<b><big>Campaign</big></b>
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.


<b><big>Multiplayer</b></big>
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.


<b><big>Setting</b></big>
Halo 3, like its predecessors, is set in the fictional Halo universe, taking place during the year 2553. According to the backstory, humans developed faster-than-light travel (using a Shaw-Fujikawa engine attached to a regular space shuttle) and colonized hundreds of planets before encountering the alien Covenant in 2525. The Covenant declares humanity an affront to their gods and began destroying human colonies by "glassing"—bombarding the planet with a barrage of plasma, turning its surface into glass. Despite efforts to keep the Covenant from finding Earth, a Covenant fleet discovers humanity's homeworld during Halo 2. By the beginning of Halo 3, the Covenant have arrived in full force on Earth, with most human resistance crushed.

The titular 'Halo' refers to massive ringworlds several hundred kilometers in diameter that are scattered across the galaxy. These rings were constructed thousands of years ago by an enigmatic race known as the Forerunners as a weapon of last resort against the parasitic alien species known as the Flood. When activated, the seven Halos would destroy all sentient life in the galaxy, thereby depriving the Flood of its food. The ringworlds were activated once in the distant past, and the Forerunners are believed to have perished. In Halo: Combat Evolved, a small human ship fleeing the Covenant stumbled upon one of these ringworlds, Installation 04. The humans manage to destroy the ring, stopping the Flood once again; the Covenant, unaware of the destructive nature of the rings, attempt to fire another ring during Halo 2 in order to fulfill their religious prophecy. One race in the Covenant, the Elites, learn the truth about the rings, and join forces with their onetime enemies, humanity, in order to stop the firing of the ring. Though they are successful, the unexpected shutdown of the installation triggers a failsafe protocol—all the rings are ready to fire from one single location, referred to as the Ark. Still oblivious to the true nature of the rings, the Covenant High Prophet of Truth and the remaining loyalist Covenant proceed to head to Earth, where they believe the Ark is buried.


<b><big>Characters</b></big>
Halo 3's protagonist is the Master Chief, a surgically enhanced supersoldier who is one of the last surviving members of the SPARTAN Project, and one of humanity's greatest warriors. The Chief fights alongside the Arbiter, an Elite and disgraced commander whose race breaks free from the Covenant. Two new Elite characters, N™tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham, appear as the third and fourth players in co-op play. Supporting characters that were introduced in previous games return; these includes Sergeant Major Avery Johnson, a veteran human commander, as well as Commander Miranda Keyes, who prevents the firing of Installation 05 in Halo 2. The Forerunner Monitor 343 Guilty Spark, who tries and fails to stop the Master Chief from destroying its ringworld in Halo: Combat Evolved, also makes an appearance. Filling an alternating antagonistic/helpful role to the player is the large Flood entity known as "Gravemind"; encountered during Halo 2, the leader of the Flood escapes from confinement on Halo by invading the Covenant mobile city of High Charity and capturing Cortana, a human-created A.I., in the process.


<b><big>Plot</b></big>
Taking place shortly after the events of the comic mini-series, Halo: Uprising, Halo 3 begins with the Master Chief entering Earth's atmosphere and crashing to the ground in eastern Africa, where he is found by Sgt. Major Johnson and the Arbiter. The Chief, Johnson, and company fight their way out of the jungle and arrive at a UNSC outpost. Here, Commander Keyes and Lord Hood plan a last-ditch effort to stop the Covenant leader, the High Prophet of Truth, from activating a Forerunner artifact uncovered outside the ruins of the city of New Mombasa. The Chief is ordered to clear a way into the city of Voi and to destroy all anti-air Covenant defenses so Hood can lead the last of Earth's ships against the Prophet. Using the opening caused by the ground attack, Hood mounts an offensive against Truth's ship, but the Prophet activates the buried artifact which creates an enormous slipspace portal. As the human ships recover from the shock wave, Truth and his followers enter the portal, while a ship controlled by the Flood crash-lands nearby. Elite forces, allied with humanity, arrive and vitrify Flood-infected areas of Earth, neutralizing the parasitic threat. Following the cryptic message from the human artificial intelligence Cortana left aboard the Flood cruiser, the Chief, Arbiter, Elites, Johnson, Keyes and a handful of Marines follow Truth through the portal. Joining them is the Forerunner construct 343 Guilty Spark, who aids the Chief as he no longer has any function to fulfill after the destruction of his Halo installation in Halo: Combat Evolved.

Traveling through the portal, the humans and Elites discover an immense artificial structure, the Ark, far beyond the edges of the Milky Way galaxy. Here Truth can activate all the Halos. The Chief and company activate the installation's map room to find Truth at the Ark's control room. During their journey, the Flood arrive en masse on the former Covenant Holy City High Charity, and begin infesting the installation. While attempting to gain access to The Ark' Control Room, Johnson is captured by Truth; the prophet needs a human to utilize the Forerunner technology. Attempting to rescue Johnson, Keyes is killed by the prophet, and Johnson is forced to activate the rings. The Flood leader Gravemind forges a temporary truce with the Chief and Arbiter in an effort to stop Truth. The Arbiter, Master Chief, and Flood forces arrive and overwhelm Truth's guards, rescuing Johnson and halting the installations' firing. After the Arbiter kills Truth, Gravemind turns on the Chief and Arbiter, who escape the Flood's grasp.

The Chief, Arbiter and Guilty Spark discover that the Ark is creating a new ringworld to replace the one previously destroyed. The Chief decides to activate only this new ring to eliminate the local Flood while sparing the galaxy at large. Before he can activate the ring, however, he needs an Activation Index. Knowing that Cortana acquired a copy of one on the first Halo, he rescues the AI from High Charity and creates a chain reaction to destroy the infested city and severely damage the Gravemind.

Arriving on the new Halo, Cortana warns that the Gravemind is trying to rebuild itself on the ring. The Chief, the Arbiter, and Johnson make their way to the control room, where they will activate Halo's weapon. Guilty Spark explains that because the ring is not yet complete, a premature activation will destroy it and the Ark. When Johnson ignores his warning, Guilty Spark kills him to protect "his" ring. The Chief destroys Guilty Spark, activates the ring, and escapes the ring's blast on a frigate, Forward Unto Dawn.

Only the front half of Forward Unto Dawn, carrying the Arbiter, makes it through the portal. Believing the Chief and Cortana to have perished, a memorial service is held for the fallen heroes of the human and Covenant war. After the memorial service, the Arbiter departs for his home planet, where the Elites are finally free of the Prophets' hegemony. Meanwhile, the rear half of Forward Unto Dawn floats in unknown space. Cortana drops a beacon, but realizes it may be years before they are rescued. The Chief enters cryonic sleep, telling Cortana to "wake me, when you need me." If the game is completed at the highest difficulty level, the scene continues to show the piece of Forward Unto Dawn drifting towards a mysterious planet.


<b><big>Development</b></big>
Initial conception for Halo 3 was done before the game's predecessor, Halo 2 was released in 2004. For a period after this, much of the staff were still preoccupied in making extra content for Halo 2, while others continued with the groundwork for the development of Halo 3. Bungie remained almost completely silent as to what their new project was for the next year and half, occasionally leaving comments in their weekly update alluding to a "new project." Due to the cliff-hanger ending of Halo 2, many observers correctly speculated that Bungie's new project was Halo 3.

The game was officially announced with a real-time cinematic trailer at E3 2006. Similarly to the development of Halo 2, Bungie kept the public informed on game development via "Bungie Weekly Updates". During development, the game was divided into single player and multiplayer builds; this made debugging and testing the much smaller multiplayer files quicker. While details of Halo 3's multiplayer were widely disseminated in the sixteen months leading up to the release, the single-player aspect of the storyline was kept relatively secret throughout much of the development to build up interest. The first campaign screenshots did not appear until a year after the announcement trailer, on July 5, 2007, as a "tease" for the planned pace of marketing.


<b><big>Graphics</b></big>
Halo 3 utilizes a proprietary, in-house graphics engine, often referred to as the "Halo 3 Engine". As detailed on the Bungie Studios website, it employs advanced graphics technologies such as High Dynamic Range, global lighting and depth of field effects within cutscenes. Motion blurring was absent from the beta, but was added to the final game. Most of the dynamic objects in the game cast real-time shadows on themselves and the environment around them, including the game's plant life. Halo 3 uses normal, bump, and parallax mapping to give surfaces more detail without dramatically increasing the number of polygons. Players can see distances of up to ten miles (16 km) away, all fully three-dimensional. Real time reflections were written into the engine; however, they are often unused as Bungie considered it a waste of resources.

Halo 3 does not natively render at true HD resolution (at least 720 lines of vertical resolution). In a Bungie Weekly Update, it was confirmed that the game renders at 1152×640 resolution instead of the usual 1280×720 (HD) resolution that most Xbox 360 games use. This is because Halo 3 uses two frame buffers instead of the usual one, so the lower resolution allowed Bungie to preserve as much of the dynamic range as possible for the game's lighting without adversely affecting the frame rate. The image can be upscaled to 1080p by the Xbox 360.


<b><big>Audio</b></big>
As with all titles on the Xbox 360, Halo 3 fully supports 5.1 surround sound audio. In the game, there are over 50,000 pieces of audio, with nearly 40,000 of those being NPC dialogue. This is far more than in either of the preceding Halo titles; Halo 2 had over 15,000 pieces of dialogue. The AI controlling this dialogue is designed to ensure the exchanges flow naturally and convincingly. Separate recordings were made for nearby and distant gunfire to make for a more believable sound experience in the public beta, and the finished game uses Waves Audio plugins to modify dialog and other audio in-game depending on conditions. Distant gunfire sounds, which may first seem like prerecorded ambient sound, may often be the result of an actual firefight happening elsewhere in the game.

Marty O'Donnell again composed the original score for the game. Some pieces of the game's music are produced with a much larger real orchestra than any pieces in the prior two games. For example, the music for the announcement trailer was recorded with a 60-piece orchestra and a 24-piece choir. Halo 3 is the first game in the series to feature custom soundtracks, allowing players to replace in-game music with their own choices. The Halo 3 Original Soundtrack was released on November 20, 2007. Included on the soundtrack is an original composition submitted by fans and judged by Nile Rodgers, Michael Ostin, and Marty O'Donnell.


<b><big>Cast</b></big>
Voice actors returning to reprise their roles in Halo 3 include Jen Taylor as Cortana, David Scully as Sergeant Johnson and the Elites, Keith David as the Arbiter, Tim Dadabo as 343 Guilty Spark, Ron Perlman as Lord Hood, Robert Davi as Rtas 'Vadum, and Steve Downes as the voice of Master Chief. The game also features new voices, with Terence Stamp and Justis Bolding replacing Halo 2 voice actors Michael Wincott and Julie Benz as the Prophet of Truth and Miranda Keyes respectively. Additional voices include celebrity presenter Jonathan Ross, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Katee Sackhoff, and John DiMaggio. Members of the Halo machinima Red vs. Blue (Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Matt Hullum, Jason Saldaña, Geoff Ramsey, and Joel Heyman) have a cameo role.


<b><big>Marketing and release</b></big>
Various marketing techniques were employed in promoting the release of Halo 3; these included various trailers of the game, real-time cinematics, recorded gameplay sequences, pre-rendered CGI, and live action film. Throughout the course of development Bungie released four "developer documentaries" which explain the processes behind creating parts of the game. A large scale multiplayer beta test was played on Xbox Live with more than 800 000 members of the public being able to take part and experience the game for themselves. Beginning in June 2007, Iris, an alternate reality game, began on the internet, designed to create hype for the game while involving players in slowly revealing background information for the game. The actual release was met with worldwide launch parties.

Numerous interviews with Bungie staff were conducted by gaming press establishments, covering a vast range of subjects dealing with the game. Magazines and journals also occasionally ran stories revealing new information. Pepsi-Cola announced a new line of soft drink, a variant of Mountain Dew named Game Fuel, branded with the Halo 3 logo and the Master Chief. Much of the advertising focused on appealing to the general public, rather than just hardcore fans of the game; for example, some 7-Eleven stores advertised Halo 3 and sold specialty cups and copies of the game. On September 12, 2007 the "Believe" Halo 3 ad campaign, focused on the epic nature of the story and heroism told through dioramas and third party accounts of Master Chief's service, began with the video "Museum" and continued on past the game's release.


<b><big>Leaks</b></big>
Months before the release of Halo 3, the game's final testing copy before its gold release (codenamed Epsilon and confirmed by Bungie to be 99.9% complete), was leaked to the Internet. Microsoft reacted to this leak by having the Xbox Live accounts of gamers caught playing the Epsilon copy banned until the year 9999. Two weeks before Halo 3 was due to be released, full retail copies of the game complete with photographs of the open game box started to appear on the internet auction site eBay. A week before Halo 3 was due for release, major UK catalog retailer Argos accidentally released some of their final retail copies of Halo 3. Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division were quoted as being "disappointed that it happened" but that "it was just an honest mistake" and that Microsoft had no intention of punishing Argos for the error.

Halo 3's final retail copy was leaked online over a week before its official release. The 6.14 gigabyte file of the game was ripped and downloaded by "thousands" of people within 24 hours of the leak. Videos of the ending of Halo 3, obtained from the leaked copy, were captured and posted on video sharing sites.


<b><big>Versions</big></b>
Halo 3 was released in three separate versions. The Standard Edition contains the game disc, manual, and a small poster with the game's control-map and artwork.

The Limited Edition, contained in a metal case, contains the game disc, manual, poster, interactive Xbox 360 bonus disc with several featurettes, and a hard cover bound "Bestiarum", which is a collection of information and art covering the species, cultures, and civilizations of Halo 3.

The final version was marketed as the "Legendary Edition", which contains the game disc, manual, poster, interactive bonus disc, Bestiarum (on one of the DVD discs), Legendary DVD containing special content exclusive to the Legendary Edition, and a scale replica of the Master Chief's helmet as a case for the three discs. The slip-cover packaging unfolds into a large heavy-stock poster of Master Chief. Gamestation stores in the UK also offered a limited edition Master Chief figurine only available to the first 1000 pre-orders.

Upon release, some of the Limited Edition versions of Halo 3 were found to have a defect in the hub that kept the discs in place, which could lead to scratched discs. Microsoft confirmed the problem and offered to replace scratched Halo 3 Limited Edition discs free of charge until the end of January 2008. This was not a problem in either the Legendary Edition or the Standard Edition.


<b><big>Sales</b></big>
According to Microsoft, first-day sales of Halo 3 reached $170 million in the U.S., setting a record for highest gross of an entertainment product within 24 hours of its release. The performance beat the previous record setter—Halo 2—which earned $125 million within 24 hours after its launch. Halo 3 broke other records as well; at least four million copies of Halo 3 were pre-ordered globally, making it the fastest pre-selling game to date. Worldwide more than US$300 million worth were sold in the first week, helping to more than double the sales of the Xbox 360 when compared with the weekly average before the Halo 3 launch.
Bill Gates sold copies of the game at the launch in Bellevue, WA.

In the U.S., Halo 3 sold 3.3 million copies in its first 12 days on sale, increasing to 3.7 million copies by November 15, 2007. Reuters UK estimated that Halo 3 may have sold up to 5.2 million copies worldwide in the first two weeks after launch. By November 30, 2007, Halo 3 had sold 5 million copies worldwide, and as of that point, was the best-selling video game of 2007 in the U.S., even though the game is only available on one console. On January 3, 2008, Microsoft announced that Halo 3 has sold 8.1 million copies. The game drew over a million Xbox Live members to play online in the first 20 hours, making it the biggest day for Xbox Live gaming in history. The game returned to the top 20 sales charts more than a year after its release in February 2009; Gamasutra reported that the boost might have been due to the release of Halo Wars.

Advertising Age reported that movie studio executives were convinced the release of Halo 3 harmed box office receipts; the week's take was 27% less than the previous year's yield. While some executives decided the disparity in estimated and actual gross for films like The Heartbreak Kid was due more to the film's poor reception, other analysts believed that "the audience on [Halo 3] is the 18-to-34 demographic, similar to what you'd see in cinemas" and that this led to a decrease in receipts. Later research suggested that the Halo 3 players still watched the same amount of television and movies, regardless of the time they spent playing the game.


<b><big>Downloadable content</b></big>
Halo 3 supports multiplayer map downloadable content as well as game updates via Xbox Live. The first three post-release multiplayer maps, "Standoff", "Rat's Nest", and "Foundry", were released as a pack on December 11, 2007, collectively known as the "Heroic Map Pack". "Foundry" in particular expanded the map-creation abilities available through Forge with a greater range of relatively primitive objects, and a clear open design.

The second three maps were released in the "Legendary Map Pack", on April 15, 2008. These were "Ghost Town", "Avalanche", and "Blackout"; the latter two maps are remakes of the Halo: Combat Evolved map "Sidewinder" and the Halo 2 map "Lockout" respectively. These maps introduced visual filters to the Forge pallet, which change the way the maps look. A remake of the Halo: Combat Evolved map "Chill Out", titled "Cold Storage", was released as a free download on "Bungie Day", July 7, 2008.

The third multiplayer map pack, titled the "Mythic Map Pack" and consisting of the maps "Orbital", "Assembly", and "Sandbox", was included with the Limited Collectors Edition of Halo Wars. The map pack was released over the Xbox Live Marketplace on April 9, 2009. Like "Foundry", "Sandbox" also expands upon Forge map-creation with several cleared areas.

The first version update for Halo 3 was released on February 19, 2008, and addressed various bugs such as melee contest resolution and saved-film theater errors. The next update (called a Title Update) was released September 23, 2008, and includes new Achievements, a new XP ranking system, and various new ways to detect and stop cheating in the game. There are no further updates planned for Halo 3.


Halo 3 was given favorable reviews from game critics. On the review aggregator Game Rankings, the game has an average score of 93%, based on 90 reviews, making it the seventh best reviewed Xbox 360 game to date. On Metacritic, the game has an average score of 94 out of 100, based on 74 reviews.

Pro-G assured readers in its review that Halo 3 lived up to the hype, saying that the game "is everything we hoped it would be, and much, much, more". Many publications, including Eurogamer and Games Radar stated that the "winning formula" of Halo and Halo 2 was unchanged, but the addition of new features and weapons prevented stagnation. Most publications agreed that multiplayer was by far one of the best features; IGN said that the multiplayer map lineup was the strongest of the series, and Gamespy added that the multiplayer offering will make "Halo [veterans] weep big sloppy sobs of joy". The Forge level editor and saved films features were singled out as particularly strong features, in addition to superb voice acting and Martin O'Donnell's rich score.

Reception of the single-player aspect varied greatly. Pro-G said that while the cliffhanger ending of Halo 2 was disappointing, the campaign of Halo 3 "is anything but"; GameSpot and GameSpy, meanwhile, said that the campaign was too short, especially on easier difficulty levels. IGN was highly critical of the eighth level, stating "the penultimate chapter is so bad, just thinking about it puts a rotten taste in my mouth." The New York Times said the game had a "throwaway" plot and Total Video Games judged the single-player aspect ultimately disappointing.

Other complaints focused on the artificial intelligence; critics praised the enemy AI but complained that the intelligence of the player's allies was far poorer. Bryan Vore of Game Informer said that human faces and some textures were just "embarrassing". Game Informer criticized the occasional repeated environments and poor final boss battle, and both IGN and CinemaBlend.com said that they thought a part of the story was lost by not having the Arbiter featuring as prominently as the character was in Halo 2.

Halo 3 was nominated for seven awards from the Spike TV Awards, of which it won "Best Multiplayer Game" and "Most Addictive Video Game Fueled by Dew". It won TIME magazine's "Game of the Year" and IGN chose it as the Best Xbox 360 Online Multiplayer Game and Innovative Design of 2007. Halo 3 won "Multiplayer Game of the Year" and "Geezer Game of the Year" as awarded by Geezer Gamers as well as runner-up for "Best Shooter". The Visual Effects Society awarded Bungie the "Best Real Time Visuals in a Video Game" for Halo 3. Halo 3 took the Calvin Award for "Best Videogame" as selected by Box Office Prophets. Halo 3 also took the award for Xbox 360 Game of the Year 2007 from Gametrailers.com, and was voted by fans as Game of the Year on G-Phoria. Halo 3 won the Edge Award For Interactive Innovation in August 2008.