Happy Bungie Day!

For the uninitiated, today is Bungie Day. What is Bungie Day? Well, for some reason, Bungie has a strange obsession with the number 7. So because of that, July 7th (7/7) is known as Bungie Day. It may be silly, but I'll take any excuse to celebrate one of my favorite video game developers. To commemorate this day I thought I'd take a look back at one of Bungie's masterpieces, Halo 3.

Ask any Halo fan and most would tell you that their favorite entry in the series is Halo 2. The game featured what is still regarded to this day as the best online multiplayer offering of its time. But ask those same Halo fans what they didn't like about Halo 2 and most would talk about the ending. Halo 2 ended abruptly with an infuriating cliffhanger of Master Chief on a ship to Earth with a mission to "finish this fight." Many, like me, were last scratching our heads when the credits began to roll. "That's it?!," was my first thought. Halo 2's campaign was on a roll, so for it to end so abruptly was confusing on so many levels, and we later learned this wasn't Bungie's plan at all as they were in a rush to finish the game on time, resulting in the quick ending. In any case, it worked to make the wait for Halo 3 that much more agonizing.

The three year wait for Halo 3 felt like forever. The wait was softened a bit by the launch of the Halo 3 beta, which would give us our first taste of the next generation of Halo multiplayer. But if the wait was agonizing before, the beta made it unbearable. To this day, I have yet to anticipate a game more than I did with Halo 3.

Despite having school the next day, I still went to the midnight release. When we finally got home, my brother and I played the campaign in co-op until about 4 in the morning, completing more than half the story. We finished it the next day (I skipped school) and felt that the story ended perfectly. It tied up loose ends while also setting up the future. My only complaints were, 1: I was really hoping to fight The Gravemind and 2: The Arbiter took a backseat after being heavily featured in Halo 2.

Then there was the multiplayer, a worthy successor to Halo 2's excellent offering. Halo 2 had some of the best map selections of all time with maps like Lockout, Ascension and Zanzibar, but Halo 3 was no slouch. Maps like Guardian, The Pit and Valhalla stand tall among the best the series has to offer. Guardian was the go-to map, as it was a mix of both Lockout and Ascension while Valhalla offered thrilling Capture the Flag matches. Then there was Sandtrap, a map like no other that was made for vehicular combat. Matches on this map were filled with Warthog battles, with Brute Choppers running straight into those Warthogs, blowing them up. But the standout vehicle here was The Elephant. This moving base came equipped with stationary machine guns on each side and a deployable Mongoose for quick hit-and-runs. It also made for some hilarious Capture the Flag games. Why steal just the flag when you can steal the flag and the base?

Halo 3 was arena multiplayer at its finest and Bungie at the top of their game. There is a reason why it was king of Xbox Live for two years running. Going back to it recently, it took a bit to get used to the slower pace after playing Halo 4 and years of Call of Duty. But maybe a slower pace is the route Halo 5 should go in after 4's multiplayer base died out quickly.

Halo 3, in my opinion, is one of last-gens standout titles and Bungie's crown jewel (until Destiny at least). The memories this game provided me, as well as Halo 2, have solidified Bungie as one of my favorite developers in the industry and why I'll always listen when Bungie talks. So cheers to Bungie, and I look forward to what Destiny brings us this year. I'm sure it'll be a blast.