Previews// Halo 3 Beta - First Impressions

SPOnG's First Impressions of Halo 3's Multiplayer Beta

Posted 12 May 2007 09:00 by
It would be an understatement to say that Halo 3 is the game that most Xbox 360 owners are looking forward to. The conclusion of Master Chief?s journey is a big deal, and developer Bungie is making sure that each and every facet of this game is as close to perfect as possible. Which explains several things. Like the game delays, the huge amount of feedback that Bungie has taken on board, the many new features to make the death-match game more enjoyable, and in this instance the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta to trial these new features.

The Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta goes public this coming Wednesday and has been a holy grail for many 360 owners. For those with a copy of Crackdown you?re guaranteed a blast. We can say so ourselves. Why? Because last night SPOnG was given the chance to play test the Beta at a world exclusive event in London. We spent the entire evening playing the delights of the Multiplayer Beta while mingling with Microsoft reps and encountering the strangest hors d??uvre this side of posh, innit.

The event itself was held at the snazzy Great Eastern Hotel, set in a small sized room with Halo 3 set pieces on display and six Xbox 360 consoles hooked up for fun times. The number of both specialist and lifestyle media attendees was impressive, with even a bunch of Barleys from Radio 1 turning up for the event. It made for a packed room, but an intimate atmosphere; dim red and blue lights set the tone and music from the Halo series played as guests happily blasted their way through randomised matches, and then politely passed their controllers to whoever was eager to play next.

The evening was rounded up a special video Q&A with Bungie?s Frankie O?Connor which ended rather abruptly when the linked 360 Vision Camera and Microphone began echoing the sound to an almost comedic level. Whoops. Everyone was happy that the effort was made though, and we all came away with codes to access the Beta early, making us pleased as punch.

So, what?s changed? Well, for starters, the classic Assault Rifle from the original Halo is in, and the Sword (from what we can tell) is out. All in all, weapons have been tweaked to make things a little fairer. As well as returning favourites like the Needler, Brute Shot and a weaker version of the Pistol, there are a smattering of new weapons in the Beta, including the Spartan Laser, which shoots a massive energy blast after a charge lag; spiked grenades that not only stick but shoot spikes in all sorts of directions after detonation; and even tank turrets that you can easily pick up ? apparently Spartans eat their beef.

Alongside weapons and vehicles (the only new vehicle in the Beta being a nippy off-road buggy called the ?Mongoose?), a new feature of ?equipment? is introduced in Halo 3. Very rare special items are placed in specific locations that can be used with the X Button to turn the tide of battle. Trip Mines set a proximity explosive, Energy Drains deplete everyone?s health and Grav Lifts allow players to set a tactical launch pad wherever they like.

What we like best though is the Bubble Shield. When laid down, a force field surrounds you, deflecting outside bullets and other attacks. However, what can?t come in also can't get out, and physical bodies and grenades aren?t deflected ? mavericks charging in may still get their kill if they don?t get distracted. You have to use perfect timing with the shield which adds strategy and fair play into the mix.
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TigerUppercut 12 May 2007 20:51

WTF is the matter with Top Left Corner Boy's face? It's like he's been designed for a wind-tunnel.
Svend Joscelyne 13 May 2007 21:08
It was quite humid in that hotel room, and a Halo 3 party is sure enough cause for hot, sweaty, manly gun action. Who wouldn't be rather flushed at this point?

Mind you, I always look horrid in photos. Made a candid decision not to do any self-posers there. Probably would have looked like some sort of MySpace Blog material anyway.
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Thijzo 14 May 2007 11:54
Of course, Halo 3 is still in the very early stages of development.

Eh... yeah, right. They only finished the alpha-version of the engine like yesterday. They added some trees and buildings this morning, and the gameplay this afternoon.

Didn't SPoNG write about an EARLY release of this game? Because development was progressing so quickly and smootlhy?

Com'on. Spare us these kind of fan-boy scribblings (or not, that's up to you).
Svend Joscelyne 14 May 2007 12:23
As you wish...

"Halo 3 is as divine a shooter as you can get, go out and play it now because by the time you're reading this it's already complete and ready for your purchase. Indeed, the reason such a Beta version exists at all means that the game has gone gold and everything in the game is shown as-is. 10/10"

'Early' is relative - the game is still not finished and the game still has a long way to go. To this end, the multiplayer facets and features are indeed at a very early stage. If you disagree however, and would rather me consider 'early' as 'drunken scribblings on a restaurant serviette' then I kindly accept and take on board your comments. :)
The Absinthe Review Network 15 May 2007 16:58
Ah, the return of territories! This mode is admittedly pretty unpopular on Halo 2 Live, but I've had many satisfying evening sessions with a dozen players via system link (ah, the memories of mere system link). So what is "modified" about it, precisely? Ah, wait...if nobody wants to play territories already, with the inclusion of the new veto system, I think that brings my chances of playing a territories game on Live to about 12,000:1. Yep, that should be pretty close.

Also, you haven't told us if MC is capable of anything faster than a moderate powerwalk or if they still have absurd Virtua Fighter 2 jumps...

...and are those generic, last-gen crates I see on the screen of the closest TV?! Bungie, I still love you, but your contributions to innovative level design, well...
OptimusP 16 May 2007 09:21
Jeux-france has a dozen video's of their multiplayer sessions with Halo 3, give a good view of what to expect.
Joe 17 May 2007 00:34
Hey i live in EST and im wondering what time the H3 beta is coming out because i heard that it was coming out at 10:00 p.m. and people are saying 5:00 a.m. on may 16th but i cant download it yet for my X360 and im only a kid so its gonna be hard for me to not get caught staying up all night playing it!!!!
The Absinthe Review Network 17 May 2007 03:37
Alas, I have dial-up. If you've seen any of them perhaps you could share any interesting findings?
John Stez 24 May 2007 08:12
I thought it was s**t, and I was really looking forward to it too. It hasn't moved on at all, if you play a lot of FPS's (like me) the genre has moved on, this felt like a backwards step in both graphics and gameplay.
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