Halo 3: The good, the bad and the Beta

Wednesday 16 May 2007
In case you've just arrived on this lush globe we call Earth, we'll explain why everyone's calling in sick this lunchtime.See, the Halo 3 multiplayer Beta went live at 1pm today, triggering so much demand that Bungie has been forced to temporarily stem the flow of new arrivals, just to let the internet recover from sheer shock.

Team 'Radar has been blasting (or suffering a blasting) in the public Beta for the last few hours now, and opinion has been starkly divided on Halo 3's early appeal. But it's important to remember that this isn't anything like the finished product, and in fact it might not even match up to the build that Bungie has running in its development lab right now.

Anyway. Here we've attempted to weigh in with a balanced take on what we love and what we hate about this sneak peek.

We hate...

...that it's so slow
You want to get across the map and there's no transport around. Start running. Very slowly. "Try jumping" suggests someone. We do. And we're moving no faster, only now in slow arcs through the air. We know that the best games are often the slower, more self-assured ones... but this is quite painful. Different weapons slow your progress more than others, so lighter weapons improve things, but only the vehicles and man cannons will get you anywhere fast.

...the jittery ragdolls
With the core of the game in place right from the original Halo, the next-gen version just has to do it all in style, right? The ragdoll physics are decent once Master Chief gets killed, but as soon as he comes to rest, his head jitters around like a cockroach on a barbeque. And MC's feet don't touch the ground. Er... better respawn.

...the bland, bland textures
We admit it, we walked up to a wall and put our noses against it to see how detailed the textures are under close scrutiny. The verdict? Meh. Yes, there are tiny ridges in walls and there's only slight blockiness from point blank range, but it's irrelevant when everything looks so bland. Step back and look. There's no variety in colour, with set palettes for grass, rock or metal, surface effects are modest at best and bullet holes are disappointingly puny. And the environments are impervious to even the biggest rocket blasts.

...holding RB to pick up weapon
In a fast-paced game such as Halo, where a split-second can mean the difference between life and death, we don't want to be delayed by anything. But leaping into a vehicle or pick up a weapon requires around a second of holding down the right bumper trigger. It's juuust quick enough to pick up a weapon while you 'run' over it, but it's bound to cause you at least a few unnecessary deaths.

...it's ragged and jagged
Xbox 360 is ace when it comes to anti-aliasing - a graphical technique that prevents angled lines from breaking into sharp lines of pixels by blurring adjacent pixels accordingly. So why isn't it switched on? Everything looks harsh and scrappy - even compared to Halo 2. We can only hope Bungie is restricting Beta players to an early graphical build of the game. The look of trees and grass is comparable to Far Cry Vengeance on Wii. Yes, you read that right. If the finished game looks like this, we'll cry.