Given the excitement that filled me when I got my hands on the beta a few days early, this post should come as no surprise. But let me first preface it by stating that while I did enjoy the first 2 games in the Halo franchise, I didn’t spend a lot of time playing online. To this day, most of my gaming time is spent playing solo or co-op through campaigns as opposed to the shit-talking frag-fest that is multiplayer gaming. At least that’s been the case until this past week. While I’ve been trying to get back to replaying a few games through on harder difficulties and tying up loose ends, I’ve been drawn to Halo 3 something awful.
At this time, I’ve played 48 games – 47 of those team based. I’m really not into Slayer (every man for himself) as I get my ass handed to me repeatedly, which might sound like fun, but it’s really not. The team games is where it’s at. 4 on 4 (the full game will support 8 on 8.) in perfectly executed maps working together to accomplish a common goal, or simply kill the opposing team. I really enjoy playing Team Skirmish (objective based games – Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, etc.) which is incredibly fun when you’re playing with a few friends. When I’m feeling anti-social I fire up Team Slayer and leave my headset lying on the table. One major turn-off for me is the shit-talking and off-topic banter than ensues in lobbies and even during the game at times. Since the only objective is to kill the other guys, the need to communicate with your fellow team mates is pretty much non-existent. I guess the same is true in Slayer, but again that’s not for me. At least, not yet.
I absolutely love how simple everything is.
I’m not sure if the menus will remain as barren and simplistic as they are when the game hits retail in September, but I really hope that’s the case. Whatever you’re going to be doing, it’s only a couple button presses away and it takes you no time to figure out what it is you need to do. Setting up a “party” and inviting friends along really couldn’t be simpler. As I was waiting for a couple friends to finish up their current rounds, and old friend and I were chatting in the lobby, laughing about how we used to have one person scouting servers, then passing an IP around IM conversations to get us all in the same game. Back when we all used to rock Half-Life until 3am on a “school night.” Good times, but a pain in the ass. Those days are long gone! It’s literally a matter of sending an invite to anyone on your friends list, selecting your game type and firing it up. Halo 3’s Matchmaking does the rest. You can quickly and easily travel together from game to game, chatting in pre-and-post-game lobbies in a virtually seamless experience.
But what makes Halo 3 MP beta great, is simply the fun factor.
Here’s a few moments/events that put a huge smile on my face…
- The first time I used the Bubble Shield (as seen in the first TV spot trailer).
- Scoring 2 double kills within about 15 seconds while wielding dual Brute Spikers – I just love those things!
- Planting a Brute Spike Grenade in the front of an on-coming Mongoose and watching the pieces fly as I took out the bomb carrier and his escort.
- An epic VIP vs VIP dual which resulted in my death, but it lasted a good 30 seconds while we dispensed all our ammo and grenades on each other.
- Using the exact same tactic in back-to-back rounds and winning a game of Territories 10-2.
- Starting a game of Team Rockets (rocket launchers only) and seeing 8 airborne Spartans on a crash course to the center of the map, all armed with rocket launchers. I can’t even tell you how hilarious the next 20 seconds were as we blasted the living shit out of each other. Maaan Cannonnn!
As the public beta date approached, I had actually thought to myself that my invite is probably a waste and would be better used on someone else. Given my track record with MP gaming and all. But I’m fully hooked and loving (just about) every second of it. I was pretty stoked when I found out that we only have a few more months to wait for the final game. September 25 – it’s going to be epic (again).