“Love, Bungie”. Part of the message that continued to scroll up my TV screen when initially loading the highly anticipated Halo 3 beta on Xbox Live was perhaps extra ‘padding’ to soften the blow of what was about to occur. The Halo 3 beta was set to go live on the 17th of May. But fans of the Halo universe were crushed to discover that the waiting would not be met with the elation of being able to play the Halo 3 beta, no! Fans of the game were advised via various online forums and websites that there was a ‘delay’ with the beta release and it could take up to a few ‘hours’ to fix.
This initial set back didn’t turn the loyal Spartans away from the battleground and if anything, it awakened the latent beast within, holding on for dear life, contemplating that sweet and essential adrenalin rush of being able to become one with the world of Halo and Master Chief once more.
I was (regrettably) not one of these Spartan heroes. I was intrigued, yes but not really drawn to the game. Nor had I played more than an hour’s worth of Halo 2 prior to acquiring Crackdown to play the beta. So with a sceptical mind and a sharpened wit to withstand any attack from the leagues of halo fan-boys (and girls), I was about to embark on a journey that would allow for me to see things from the ‘inside’ and to experience what it’s like to be totally immersed in the world of Halo. And it is to these rugged virtual Spartan warriors I owe a debt of gratitude simply for allowing me to be the sceptic that ran with the fan-boys in ‘Crazy King’ and ‘VIP’ battles to the death.
What I found match after match was that it was not the awe-inspiring graphics of the game that made me wonder what it was that draws so many people into it. Nor was it the compelling storyline because the beta is multiplayer only and there are only 3 maps available. I essentially discovered that the one thing that really makes a game like Halo 3 what it is – the people and the sense of community.
So, I apologise if you’re looking for a reason to go out and spend your 120 odd bucks in September when Halo 3 releases. My experience of the beta was well worth the hours I spent playing it simply because of the atmosphere and the people that play the game. I am sure the developers at Bungie would prefer to have game journalists write about the graphics and the content as that would probably sell more games. But if you want a game that is fun to play, looks reasonably good (although may of the gamers I spoke to seemed a little reserved about the ‘next gen’ look and feel of the beta) and will keep you entertained and perhaps find you some online ‘friends’ along the way, then I strongly suggest buying Halo 3 – you will probably be incredibly happy that you did.
And thanks to all those guys (and gals - Aotearoa angel!) who inspired me to write this preview. You helped a newbie to the Halo experience see beyond the aesthetics of the game. Bungie should be proud to have such great advocates of the cause; Midnite_Spartan, Dangermouse_180, Markuchi NZ, ApocolypseFire, tyepo, Hellmasterxx, and a few others whom I encountered and fragged along the way
Features of the halo 3 multiplayer beta:
An arsenal of weapons available. Everything from a rocket launcher to turrets that you can fully control and utilise in the game
Warhogs’ and buggies are scattered throughout
the maps which are all operational. A great way to mow down your opponents or get from one side of the battleground to the other
Immersive environments with three playable maps; Valhalla, Snowbound and Customisable emblems and armour
‘Save film’ option where you can save videos of
your battles to share with your buddies
An expansive ranking system which allows you
to separate rankings for both social and ranked matches based on various skills you acquire
Please bear in mind that this is the beta version of the game and many of the features above may change when the final build is released in September of this year.