Later tonight, the Xbox Live network for Xbox 360 owners will get a big test of its network capabilities. The reason? The release of the long awaited multiplayer beta version of Halo 3, perhaps the most anticipated Xbox 360 game since Microsoft first announced the console. Yep, Bungieís sci-fi first person shooter is a gold mine for Microsoft. The first two games in the series (released for the original Xbox) have sold millions of copies each (the PC port of the first Halo game didnít do badly either in sales and Halo 2 Vista is due for release next week). Yet putting out a multiplayer beta version of Halo 3 months before its planned fall release is something of a risky venture. Will fans of the first two games embrace it or will the beta disappoint them and as a result cool their interest in buying the full game.
As you may know, FiringSquad attended a New York City press event on Friday to play the Halo 3 multiplayer beta for the first time. After the event was over we got a code so we could download our own Halo 3 beta copy on our own Xbox 360 back home. The past weekend was filled with Halo 3 multiplayer frag fest time and as a result we have some more detailed impressions for you to check out before you grab the beta for yourself. Just as a reminder, Bungie has invited a number of fans to download the beta version (its scheduled to be available for download at midnight EST tonight) and if you bought the recent Real Time Worlds developed open world action game Crackdown you can also download and play the Halo 3 beta from Crackdownís user interface.
So what do we think of the Halo 3 beta? Well, if you like the first two games in the series there is no reason why you would enjoy the beta version of this game. Pretty much everything that was a part of the multiplayer features in Halo 1 and 2 is in this game. You have the slick art style. You have the classic Halo 1 and 2 weapons. You have one familiar vehicle to drive (the Warthog). You have three maps that certainly look and act a look like maps in the first two games. In short, Bungie knows that it most likely shouldnít deviate too much from what worked in Halo 1 and 2 when they made Halo 3.
What about those of you who donít care for the first two Halo games? Well it might surprise you to know that Bungie had added a few new bits that might change your mind about Halo 3. The main thing thatís changed are the new equipment bits that you can use to help you or hurt enemies. The grav-lift is the one new piece of equipment that isnít really used for combat. Once you deploy it (you use the X button on your Xbox 360 controller) it falls a short distance away. You then go over it to get a boost up in the air. Itís useful for getting into places on the map that you might want to reach (perhaps a nice sniper spot) but its not useful for anything else.