Congratulations! Halo 3 doesn’t like you!

So…I’ve had trouble with Halo 3. First, the scratched disc, which led to disc read errors. Then after some testing, the disc read errors seemed to be more about my machine than anything else; the disc played fine in other 360s. So that’s good news. I got a pristine copy of Halo 3 Legendary and…I still got disc errors. So I tried my hard drive on another 360 — a brand new Halo 3 360, no less — and got the same disc read problem. And then I tried ANOTHER 360, this time a new Halo 3 360 that belonged to GamesRadar, and THAT worked. So the only way I can play campaign right now is by borrowing Radar‘s 360, which is very kind of them but utterly fucking ridiculous.

The thing that bothers me the most — more than not being able to play! — is that I cannot figure out why it works on some machines but not others. Using different discs, consoles, and hard drives has provided wildly different but repeatable results. Check this out:

  • My console, my hard drive (my save file), my disc = no
  • OXM’s console, my hard drive (my save file), my disc = no
  • Radar’s console, my hard drive (my save file), my disc = yes
  • OXM’s console, OXM’s hard drive (no save file), my disc = yes
  • Radar’s console, Radar’s hard drive (no save file), my disc = yes

The only difference between the OXM and Radar consoles — both are Halo 3 editions, and they arrived the same day — is the DVD drives. The OXM unit has a BenQ and the Radar unit has a Toshiba. But…my console also has a Toshiba, albeit with firmware two years older. And BenQ is supposed to be the “best” of the drives currently being used. And it’s not corrupt save data, because the Radar console has no trouble with it.

I’m not the only one reporting read errors, so I think it might be a combination of two elements: how the data is arranged on the disc (are they using compression? Is there an error in layout? What makes this disc fail during reading?) and the tolerance of the different DVD drives Microsoft uses. That is, some drives can read this disc and some can’t (Dead Rising had similar problems, but I was unaffected by them…and I don’t believe there was a fix). I have tried different discs but it hasn’t made any difference, so it’s not necessarily my copy of the game. But every other game runs fine on my system, so it’s not necessarily my drive — and even Halo 3 lets me play multiplayer without troubles, which means it’s something with the single-player data and how it’s arranged on the disc, or how the drive is reading that part of the disc. That’s why I think it’s got to be a combination of the two…and without knowing for certain where the fault lies, there’s no way to fix it. Even buying a new console and popping my hard drive onto it doesn’t seem like it will do the trick — though maybe if I bought an Elite and copied the data with the Transfer Kit that comes with the Elite…?

No, screw that. Buying a new console hardly seems like a rational response to one game misbehaving. I like my freshly red-ring-repaired system and I see no real reason to give it up. BioShock ran wonderfully (after I cleared the cache). So has everything else. This is just a Halo 3 issue. And Halo 3, despite what some folks may think, is just one game.

I have won some sort of reverse lottery.

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