Weapons, levels, vehicles
So what about the new ordinance? The Spiker handgun fires energy like blades at your opponents. Itís pretty weak by itself but you can also dual wield it. Get up close to an opponent and heís toast pretty quickly. The Spartan Laser is a huge two handed weapon that fires a devastating shot once you charge it up to its full capacity. You can track your target with a low powered laser before you fire. Itís a neat idea but you have to be patient to use it correctly. Move it away from your target slightly and its not effective. Thereís also a new Spike grenade added to the mix that sticks to whatever it lands on once you throw it.
Two new massive weapons are in the Halo 3 beta. One actually isnít new; the machine gun turret in Halo 2 is back but now you can rip it from its perch to use it as a two handed mini-gun with massive results. Your viewpoint switches to third person when this happens and your player movement is slowed considerable. This also happens with the new missile pod weapon. This massive new version of the gameís rocket launcher tracks your target once it is fixed and fires some devastating blows to your desired location. Again, your movement is slowed when using this so be careful you donít find yourself in a sniperís target hairs.
The beta has three vehicles that you can use in various levels. Two of them are familiar, the human two seater Warthog and the alien one seater Ghost hovercraft. The new vehicle is the human two seater Mongoose. This fast moving vehicle has no on board weapons but if you find a partner he or she can use their own weapons while you drive. The fast movement of the Mongoose makes it especially cool to use in, say, Capture the Flag mode. We think players will like this new transport a lot.
The three maps included in the Halo 3 beta are a good mix of small, medium and large levels. The small High Ground level is deceptive at first as it its multi-levels. It begins on a small rocky beach and then heads up a hill to a partially ruined human base with a large gate that separates the two parts. There are several ways to enter the base so we expect players will take some time to find their own routes. This is likely the best kind of level for an Assault mode.
The second map is Snowbound, a more open level set in an Hoth style setting with lots of alien structures. The open area also has a number of underground levels as well, some of which have force fields that, like the bubble shield, players can walk through but weapons fire cannot get past. There are two large and tall structures in the middle of the level that are perfect for sniper attacks. This is a good Slayer mode level. One thing to keep in mind is that if you move outside the level too much alien automated laser cannons will fry you.
The final level, and our personal favorite, is Valhalla. This large open level is set in a peaceful forest and stream setting with two alien style bases on either side and a creek that runs between them. Thereís also a wreaked human drop ship to one side. The main thing about this level that is unique is what is being called the ďman cannonsĒ. Basically both of the bases have their own grav lift that can propel players and even vehicles (if you have the angle right) massively into the air. Itís a bit nuts but we think that players will get a kick out of it.