Halo 3's Environments Are Still Superior

I finally understand why Halo 3’s environments, colors, and lighting looks so good compared to Halo 4 and Halo 5. And why everything “pops”. Four words: Lack of color grading.

Halo 3’s environments were created to look as photorealistic as possible. The realistic and “popping” look to every environment is a result of the very real colors. Compare these environments to the Halo 4 environments below these links:

http://www.electricblueskies.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Halo-3-Chronicles-Sierra-117-4.1.jpg


http://www.electricblueskies.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Halo-3-Postcards-The-Ark-4.jpg





Halo 4 and 5, by contrast, always have color grading applied to it, a sort of “filter” to tint every scene a certain shade of color. The result is that nothing in a specific scene pops out, everything blends together, and of course, looks less realistic. I’ll say though, some levels benefit from it more than others based on the story theme and setting. Anyway, Halo 4 and 5’s polygon count, textures, shaders, and lighting are all very advanced and impressive, but it’s the color grading that puts their environments below Halo 3’s.









Why would they tint everything in Halo 4 and 5 a certain color? Because it’s a result of these two games mimicking modern hollywood films. Mainstream films nowadays always have a strict color scheme; the most common being blue and orange. While I’m glad to see Halo 4 and 5 avoid blue and orange color schemes (unless it’s relevant to the story like between the Librarian and Didact), I’m disappointed to see every scene in these two games look incredibly flat thanks to the single color applied over entire environments. I’ll give you examples.

Dawn: Blue-green
Requiem: Bright Yellow
Forerunner: Purple
Infinity: Army Green, and then Dark Blue
Reclaimer: Orange and green-blue indoors
Shutdown: White glow over the whole level
Composer: Some blue and white glows
Midnight: This one uses a nice combination of colors, and the use of orange is justified because of the Didact

If you’re having trouble believing the color grading, just look at Chief in any given level, and you’ll find you can NEVER get a neutral, accurate depiction of Chief’s armor’s shade of green; it’s always tinted to match the respective level.

The best example of color grading, by far, is Valhalla between Halo 3 and 4. Note the tinted filter over the entire Halo 4 level.


Let’s take these images of Crow’s Nest. Imagine what it would look like if it were made for Halo 4.
http://www.electricblueskies.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Halo-3-Postcards-Crows-Nest-2.jpg


First off, there would be a yellowish glowy filter over the entire image, the lights on the ceiling would be glaringly bright, and the outside world the hanger looks out into the African landscape would have a harsh yellow glow to it with a distracting lens flare effect. The result is a seriously unmemorable, and over exaggerated scene.

Maybe it’s just me, but I find looking at a color graded image or scene to be… “gross” to the eyes. I think “gross” is the best way I can describe how tinting a scene makes me feel.

In Halo 3, I never felt I was looking at the environments through blue, orange, or green tinted glasses. I always felt I was looking at a real place with real colors. Everything in Halo 4, and so far with what we’ve seen of Halo 5, it all looks flat because of the color grading. However, I think Halo 5 is doing it to a lesser extent than Halo 4, and it benefits greatly, so I’m thankful for that.

This isn’t to say color grading should never be used. If a scene takes place in a burning ship, feel free to use as much orange as you want. Or if it benefits the story in some meaningful way, like with the Librarian and Didact, sure. But for normal scenes, no color grading.

The second contributing factor to Halo 4 and 5’s inferior look is the overuse of bright lights and lens flares also damages the look of an environment since it distorts the colors. If you use too many bright lights that glare over everything, the result is the same as color grading. Brights lights only serve to blend all the colors together into a big unmemorable mess. Battlefield 3 made this mistake by making the entire game blue, but thankfully fixed it for Battlefield 4.

I ask only that Halo 5 is allowed to portray real colors instead of having these cheap grading and filtering “techniques”. Stop trying to mimick hollywood movies because it hurts the games’ timelessness in the long term.

EDIT: I can’t believe I have to explain this again, but I am talking purely about color choices and lighting of environments. The environments are the ONLY things in Halo 3 that look better than Halo 4. Facial models, most texture work, polygon count, weapon models, enemy models, and animation are all vastly superior in Halo 4. Let’s stick to only talking about colors and lighting of environments.

I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.

The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.

> 2533274833600810;2:
> I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.
>
> The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.

??? I never said Halo 4 and 5 were inferior because they were darker. And we’re talking about environments and colors, not character models or weapon models. And Halo 3 already nailed metallic textures.

> 2533274950614657;3:
> > 2533274833600810;2:
> > I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.
> >
> > The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.
>
>
> ??? I never said Halo 4 and 5 were inferior because they were darker. And we’re talking about environments and colors, not character models or weapon models. And Halo 3 already nailed metallic textures.

I thought the environments in 4 looked just fine. Characters didn’t pop out as much but I don’t see that as a big problem.

> 2533274833600810;4:
> > 2533274950614657;3:
> > > 2533274833600810;2:
> > > I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.
> > >
> > > The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.
> >
> >
> > ??? I never said Halo 4 and 5 were inferior because they were darker. And we’re talking about environments and colors, not character models or weapon models. And Halo 3 already nailed metallic textures.
>
>
> I thought the environments in 4 looked just fine. Characters didn’t pop out as much but I don’t see that as a big problem.

C’mon, let’s be real here. What looks better?

This: http://ghostnews.lanternghosttours.com/wp-content/uploads/rainforests-can-be-spooky-places-at-the-best-of-times-and-even-mor_159_65129_0_14099571_700-660x330.jpg
Or this: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/forest_zpsipiz77jj.png

> 2533274950614657;5:
> > 2533274833600810;4:
> > > 2533274950614657;3:
> > > > 2533274833600810;2:
> > > > I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.
> > > >
> > > > The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.
> > >
> > >
> > > ??? I never said Halo 4 and 5 were inferior because they were darker. And we’re talking about environments and colors, not character models or weapon models. And Halo 3 already nailed metallic textures.
> >
> >
> > I thought the environments in 4 looked just fine. Characters didn’t pop out as much but I don’t see that as a big problem.
>
>
> C’mon, let’s be real here. What looks better?
>
> This: http://ghostnews.lanternghosttours.com/wp-content/uploads/rainforests-can-be-spooky-places-at-the-best-of-times-and-even-mor_159_65129_0_14099571_700-660x330.jpg
> Or this: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/forest_zpsipiz77jj.png

Oh I thought we were talking about the games not real life.

> 2533274833600810;6:
> > 2533274950614657;5:
> > > 2533274833600810;4:
> > > > 2533274950614657;3:
> > > > > 2533274833600810;2:
> > > > > I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.
> > > > >
> > > > > The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > ??? I never said Halo 4 and 5 were inferior because they were darker. And we’re talking about environments and colors, not character models or weapon models. And Halo 3 already nailed metallic textures.
> > >
> > >
> > > I thought the environments in 4 looked just fine. Characters didn’t pop out as much but I don’t see that as a big problem.
> >
> >
> > C’mon, let’s be real here. What looks better?
> >
> > This: http://ghostnews.lanternghosttours.com/wp-content/uploads/rainforests-can-be-spooky-places-at-the-best-of-times-and-even-mor_159_65129_0_14099571_700-660x330.jpg
> > Or this: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/forest_zpsipiz77jj.png
>
>
> Oh I thought we were talking about the games not real life.

Ahem: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ComicallyMissingThePoint

My POINT is, Halo 3 used colors and lighting techniques to make it look like real life, much to its benefit. Halo 4 used short-sighted modern film color and lighting to make it superficially pleasing for a few minutes before getting grating on the eyes, much to its detriment.

Halo 4 filters made everything look exotic but I kind of agree that it was a bit too much. Though it really gave different mood to every enviroment it I hope they use more natural light in halo 5 since we are no longer on Requiem.

> 2533274950614657;7:
> > 2533274833600810;6:
> > > 2533274950614657;5:
> > > > 2533274833600810;4:
> > > > > 2533274950614657;3:
> > > > > > 2533274833600810;2:
> > > > > > I think Halo 4/5 has the most realistic environments and just overall better look. Characters look better, the cutscenes look better, shadows look better, metal actually looks like metal. Sure it’s a darker look but I think it is far superior. Everything in Halo 3 looks like plastic and the Spartan’s armor is way too colorful and “cartoony”.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > The weapons even look better. Nowadays when I look back at the Halo 3 AR, it looks like a toy. The Battle Rifle looks very plain and uninteresting for a game that’s supposed to be sci-fi. The SMG is just black with no detail and it sounds like popcorn when you shoot it. Granted, it is a little easier for players and enemies to blend in with the new graphics but I don’t see this as a huge flaw.
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > ??? I never said Halo 4 and 5 were inferior because they were darker. And we’re talking about environments and colors, not character models or weapon models. And Halo 3 already nailed metallic textures.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > I thought the environments in 4 looked just fine. Characters didn’t pop out as much but I don’t see that as a big problem.
> > >
> > >
> > > C’mon, let’s be real here. What looks better?
> > >
> > > This: http://ghostnews.lanternghosttours.com/wp-content/uploads/rainforests-can-be-spooky-places-at-the-best-of-times-and-even-mor_159_65129_0_14099571_700-660x330.jpg
> > > Or this: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/forest_zpsipiz77jj.png
> >
> >
> > Oh I thought we were talking about the games not real life.
>
>
> …
>
> Ahem: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ComicallyMissingThePoint
>
> My POINT is, Halo 3 used colors and lighting techniques to make it look like real life, much to its benefit. Halo 4 used short-sighted modern film color and lighting to make it superficially pleasing for a few minutes before getting grating on the eyes, much to its detriment.

I’m sure Halo 3 did at the time use it to its benefit.

But you can clearly see with this picture that Halo 4 looks better than Halo 3.

Ragnarok/Valhalla

You can get all technical if you’d like, I’m not that smart when it comes to the technicality of visuals but I do know that Halo 4 looks better than Halo 3. I don’t need to be a scientist to understand that.

You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.

BEHOLD! Crow’s Nest remade in Halo 4. I think these two edits I made explain my point perfectly:

Halo 3 style: http://www.electricblueskies.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Halo-3-Postcards-Crows-Nest-2.jpg
Halo 4 style: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%201_zpsctmwkvh8.png~original

Halo 3 style: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090818050034/halo/images/1/17/90872136-Full.jpg
Halo 4 style: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%202_zpsc7xs6xrb.png~original

Note, your immediate reaction to my edited images are likely that the bloom and glare effects are nice. But, try playing Halo 3 with different color filters and constant glows throughout the entire game. You’ll eventually get sick of it. This is what I mean when I say Halo 4’s artistic techniques and style is “short-sighted” and “superficial”.

> 2533274950614657;11:
> BEHOLD! Crow’s Nest remade in Halo 4. I think these two edits I made explain my point perfectly:
>
> Halo 3 style: http://www.electricblueskies.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Halo-3-Postcards-Crows-Nest-2.jpg
> Halo 4 style: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%201_zpsctmwkvh8.png~original
>
> Halo 3 style: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090818050034/halo/images/1/17/90872136-Full.jpg
> Halo 4 style: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%202_zpsc7xs6xrb.png~original
>
> Note, your immediate reaction to my edited images are likely that the bloom and glare effects are nice. But, try playing Halo 3 with different color filters and constant glows throughout the entire game. You’ll eventually get sick of it. This is what I mean when I say Halo 4’s artistic techniques and style is “short-sighted” and “superficial”.

You’re just taking one part of the visuals and ignoring everything else?

> 2535420014591908;10:
> You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.

What? We’re not talking about AA. What do you mean? I said color filtering inhabits every part of the game, so color grading effectively IS the overall impression.

> 2533274950614657;13:
> > 2535420014591908;10:
> > You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.
>
>
> What? We’re not talking about AA. What do you mean? I said color filtering inhabits every part of the game, so color grading effectively IS the overall impression.

It’s not the overall impression. Your Crow’s Nest pics of “Halo 4” look like garbage, no doubt. If you did the same thing to Valhalla in Halo 3 then of course it’d look terrible but Ragnarok still looks better than Valhalla because they didn’t just change one thing about the game’s visuals and call it a day.

> 2533274824409174;8:
> Halo 4 filters made everything look exotic but I kind of agree that it was a bit too much. Though it really gave different mood to every enviroment it I hope they use more natural light in halo 5 since we are no longer on Requiem.

This is an idea I can get behind. If the color filtering was exclusive to Requiem, I’d be fine with it; it’d fit Requiem’s feeling and theme. However, we see these techniques carry over to Dawn, and inside of the Infinity. But that might have been to maintain a consistent look throughout the game, in which I’d also been fine with it. What I have a problem with, is that we’re done with Requiem, getting back to more “normal” setting, and the color grading is still present. Not to mention Forerunner structures in past games never had this color filtering anyway.

> 2533274833600810;14:
> > 2533274950614657;13:
> > > 2535420014591908;10:
> > > You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.
> >
> >
> > What? We’re not talking about AA. What do you mean? I said color filtering inhabits every part of the game, so color grading effectively IS the overall impression.
>
>
> It’s not the overall impression. Your Crow’s Nest pics of “Halo 4” look like garbage, no doubt. If you did the same thing to Valhalla in Halo 3 then of course it’d look terrible but Ragnarok still looks better than Valhalla because they didn’t just change one thing about the game’s visuals and call it a day.

Compare the second Crow’s Nest image to this image from Halo 4, please:
http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Requiem_zpstegb2jyz.png~original
http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%202_zpsc7xs6xrb.png~original

My edit is accurate to Halo 4’s style, and you just called it garbage.

> 2533274833600810;12:
> > 2533274950614657;11:
> > BEHOLD! Crow’s Nest remade in Halo 4. I think these two edits I made explain my point perfectly:
> >
> > Halo 3 style: http://www.electricblueskies.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Halo-3-Postcards-Crows-Nest-2.jpg
> > Halo 4 style: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%201_zpsctmwkvh8.png~original
> >
> > Halo 3 style: http://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090818050034/halo/images/1/17/90872136-Full.jpg
> > Halo 4 style: http://i1211.photobucket.com/albums/cc433/bluerubyvideos/Crows%20Nest%202_zpsc7xs6xrb.png~original
> >
> > Note, your immediate reaction to my edited images are likely that the bloom and glare effects are nice. But, try playing Halo 3 with different color filters and constant glows throughout the entire game. You’ll eventually get sick of it. This is what I mean when I say Halo 4’s artistic techniques and style is “short-sighted” and “superficial”.
>
>
> You’re just taking one part of the visuals and ignoring everything else?

Please tell me what I’m ignoring. Colors and Lighting are the two most important parts of creating appealing environments and scenes.

> 2533274950614657;13:
> > 2535420014591908;10:
> > You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.
>
>
> What? We’re not talking about AA. What do you mean? I said color filtering inhabits every part of the game, so color grading effectively IS the overall impression.

You didn’t say “Halo 3’s approach to colour grading is still superior”. You said Halo 3’s environments are still superior. Meaning every factor contributing to the environment, including AA, is relevant.

> 2535420014591908;18:
> > 2533274950614657;13:
> > > 2535420014591908;10:
> > > You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.
> >
> >
> > What? We’re not talking about AA. What do you mean? I said color filtering inhabits every part of the game, so color grading effectively IS the overall impression.
>
>
> You didn’t say “Halo 3’s approach to colour grading is still superior”. You said Halo 3’s environments are still superior. Meaning every factor contributing to the environment, including AA, is relevant.

…What. Anti-aliasing has nothing at all, ever, to do with environments or art styles. That’s to do with graphical fidelity, which we are not talking about.

> 2533274950614657;19:
> > 2535420014591908;18:
> > > 2533274950614657;13:
> > > > 2535420014591908;10:
> > > > You’re only looking at one aspect. I was playing Halo 3’s campaign the other day and the anti-aliasing (or lack thereof) made it feel like a PS1 game. Colour filtering is only part of the overall impression.
> > >
> > >
> > > What? We’re not talking about AA. What do you mean? I said color filtering inhabits every part of the game, so color grading effectively IS the overall impression.
> >
> >
> > You didn’t say “Halo 3’s approach to colour grading is still superior”. You said Halo 3’s environments are still superior. Meaning every factor contributing to the environment, including AA, is relevant.
>
>
> …What. Anti-aliasing has nothing at all, ever, to do with environments or art styles. That’s to do with graphical fidelity, which we are not talking about.

When you’re talking about video games, the environment is the thing on-screen you’re looking at. Anti-aliasing, texture quality, frame fare, animation smoothness, object models, light processing… all these and more are contributing factors. This is a videogame form, not a photography class. Words like ‘environment’ will have different meanings in the different context.