Now that the E3 dust has settled, many gamers are turning back to some of gaming’s best moments, namely in Battlefield and Halo. The Battlefield 2042 reveal pushed several thousands of players back to Battlefield 4, causing severs to overload in several areas. Halo’s Master Chief Collection has also seen a healthy boost of players on Steam since last week’s multiplayer deep-dive.
I’m certainly one of those players. As someone who’s social circle exists almost purely because of a shared love for the Halo games, I don’t need much of an excuse to jump back into the fray. I started playing Halo 3 over the weekend and subsequently finished it within a day.
The third Halo entry will always be special to me with it being my first experience of the series. It’s campaign certainly feels like one of the most varied in terms of gameplay. From the claustrophobic depths of the UNSC base in the beginning, right across to traversing an alien desert and guiding a Charon-class frigate to land.
Halo meets Shadow of the Colossus
If there’s one thing that Bungie nailed with Halo, it’s pure spectacle. That leads me on to what left me the most awestruck from my replay over the weekend: the Halo 3 missions where you’re tasked with taking down the Scarab Tanks offer some of the best moments in the entire series.
For those unfortunate enough to have not experienced a Scarab takedown, it’s a combination of everything Halo does best with a hint of Shadow of the Colossus. Your first experience of one is towards the start of the campaign. The mission sees you clear out a series of dust bowls while zipping along on a Mongoose quad bike, a UNSC soldier firing rockets from the back seat.
Completely out of nowhere, a huge beetle-like tank charges its way into the arena. It catches you completely off-guard, far bigger than any foe you’ve ever faced in the Halo games before. As it looms over the ridge, you almost expect the game to enter a cutscene any second.
But it doesn’t. Instead, the game plays out with the Scarab targeting you and the other soldiers – nothing but ants to the towering behemoth. To take it down, you must target all of its legs to put it in a stunned state. From there, it’s swollen body dips low enough for you to scale it in some dynamic 3D platforming.
The Scarab’s are guarded by a healthy swarm of Covenant enemies, so you have to fight your way through its internal structure to get to the core. Once there, a few shots from a rocket launcher send the tank into overload and you’ve but a few seconds to evacuate in a mad dash for survival. An exceptional cloud of blinding blue smoke awaits your efforts.
This is getting out of hand… now there are two of them!
Taking down one of these monstrosities is already an adrenaline fuelled ordeal, but Halo 3 surprises you with two of them at once later in the campaign. Yet again, you’re involved in a scramble for survival as you skirt around their pincer legs. Several Mongooses scramble around the tundra floor, peppering them with as much futile fire as they can muster.
With two Scarabs and an army of Covenant forces to contend with, this later encounter is much trickier than before. Even on normal difficulty, I ended up crashing and burning several times before hitting a successful run. That’s where the beauty of the encounter really shines.
No two runs were the same – I was forced to switch up different tactics. Some runs I’d use the Hornet helicopter, others I’d try using the Gauss Warthog. Each run would offer unique challenges, all of them entertaining. It’s the full might of the Halo sandbox on show. Combat going on across air and sky, orchestrated by the Scarab Tanks.
Seeing both of them go up in flames with the iconic ‘One Final Effort’ playing in the background is enough to turn anyone into a Halo fan. For veterans, the nostalgic feeling of accomplishment is indescribable.
Here’s a clip of what it’s like to take down two Scarab’s in quick succession.
Halo Infinite has a lot to live up to
From what we’ve seen of Halo Infinite so far, it seems like 343 is going in the right direction to emulate the best of what Bungie started. The multiplayer seems to have a huge push towards sandbox elements, creating a fantastic blend of classic elements with a modern sheen. While we’re yet to see much of the re-worked campaign after last year’s fiasco, I can only hope a similar approach is taken.
Halo 3 will soon turn 14 and it’s set pieces are still some of the best the series offers. 2’s multiplayer might still be the most legendary, and Reach might remain the most emotional narrative. Halo 3 is what you show to the uninitiated when you gush about what makes these games so great.
What are some of your best moments from the Halo series? Let us know across our social channels.
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Featured Image Credit: Bungie/DeviantArt – victortky