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We're moments away from hundreds of thousands of hungry Halo fans getting their hands on Bungie's new toy. The Halo 3 Beta will kick off on May 16 and we think it's safe to say that the world and his dog is looking forward to seeing how it plays, although we all secretly know that's is going to be basically the same as Halo 2 with new maps, features and a few surprises added to the formula.
It's a tricky business letting people hammer your unfinished game and we can already see the forums brimming with comments from "OMG!!!!111!!!!" to "Meh, it's just the same as Halo 2". To be fair they might be right, that's what most of the press thought when they got their hands on Halo 3's multiplayer for the first time last September.
Bungie needs to show off something new as far as Halo 3's multiplayer game goes and the biggest new features look to be equipment, some weapons and vehicles as well as the maps themselves. By now you should have already seen the numerous leaked mobile phone movies of the internal Beta test and come to your own conclusions.
Will a few new weapons and vehicles that are similar to ones we've all been using for years be enough for the masses? Bungie gives out a lot of information on a regular basis, but none of it really means anything. All it does is fuel views that Bungie believes it's about to create a landmark gaming experience. Cynics are likely to say that Halo 3 will be more of the same, with a few extra bells and whistles tacked on and better matchmaking options than Halo 2. Could your hands on of the beta go as far as to even turn you off buying the sequel?
Of course the Beta will also serve to address networking issues, so that upon launch there won't be as many problems (or none at all) with connection speeds, voice communication or joining and hosting games that high profile launches such as Gears of War saw. There'll be a team at Bungie dedicated to crunching data night and day to make the end experience as smooth as possible.
Best case scenario; the world is bowled over by what Bungie has been plotting behind closed doors and Halo 3 goes on to be one of the greatest selling games of the year. Worse case; Halo 3's multiplayer underwhelms and turns out to be more of the same.
There's no doubting that more of the same is good for the hardcore fans that still play Halo 2 on 360, but they want to see something special. Will it be enough to make casual fans sign up to Xbox Live? What are you expecting from the beta? Will you be glad just to be paying Halo 3 before launch or will you be playing it to see if it's worth your cash come November? Let us know in the forums.
We'll have full hands-on impressions and gameplay footage of the Beta this Friday as we update LIVE from the Halo 3 press event. And next week, we'll be hitting you with nonstop Halo 3 coverage... everything from what's wrong with the Beta to a bleary-eyed 24-hour play diary. You'll definitely want to check it out.
May 8, 2007