Halo 3 for Xbox 360 now free to Xbox Live Gold subscribers

Today marks the availability of October’s second Games with Gold offering for Xbox 360 owners. From now through October 31, Xbox Live Gold members can download one of the console’s earliest hits: Halo 3 from Bungie and Microsoft Studios.

If you’ve never tried the series, this is a great chance to see what all the fuss is about. And even existing Halo fans might enjoy the wealth of new players that will be jumping online into this classic first-person shooter.

Halo 3 – Free from October 16-31

Xbox 360 – 5.7 GB – Xbox.com Store Link

Halo 3 was the first entry in the popular series of science fiction-themed first-person shooters for the Xbox 360, released all the way back in 2007. The game’s plot involves the alien Covenant race’s attack on earth, the end of the Human-Covenant War, and the final confrontation with the vicious Flood parasites. An exciting setup, though the plot itself jumps around too much to tell an effective story.

The third Halo introduced several series mainstays - most notably 4-player online co-op (2-player split-screen is still supported). Cooperative play goes a long way towards alleviating the problems with level design which still persisted at this point in the series. The Forge mode first appeared here as well, allowing players to customize maps and share them online. And of course, the mainstay 16-player online competitive multiplayer is on hand.

Halo 3 has since been succeeded by two proper sequels, Halo: Reach and Halo 4.

Downloadable Content

Like any popular online shooter, Halo 3 received its share of downloadable map packs over time. They’re not needed for cooperative multiplayer, and you can play the game’s competitive multiplayer without them too. But for the best online experience, it’s important to have the same maps as the people you like to play with. Hey, some of them are free!

The Halo 3 Map Packs include:

Halo 3 ODST cover

Alternately, all of the downloadable maps are included on the second disc of Halo 3: ODST. The game itself is a standalone expansion starring a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, who are regular humans rather than genetically enhanced Spartan soldiers.

ODST’s campaign features one of the best stories in the series (way better than Halo 3 itself) and supports 4-player online co-op. ODST also features a 4-player co-op mode called Firefight that is not found in Halo 3. Finally, the second disc contains every single Halo 3 multiplayer map and can be played without Halo 3 itself. However, the map disc can’t be installed to the hard drive.

If you prefer the Halo 3: ODST option to buying the individual map packs, it currently retails for $14.99 and goes for even less at Amazon.

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!