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.

Halo 3 MP Beta - High Ground

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).


I’ve also been loving the Halo 3 beta! My best move yet was a triple assassination kill.

I whore the bubble shield like no other…..

Nice review – I agree with all your points. I was thinking I wasn’t going to play it much either but I’m lovin it now too!

If H3 goes back to the multiplayer style of the first game I will definitely pick it up. If it’s anything like the second game though I will avoid it like the plague. Halo used to take at least a modicum of skill to be good at in, Halo 2 lost all of that.

I seem to have stopped playing it much..for Spider-Man me crazy. I just see Halo 3 Online just the same rounds over and over. I can’t see any veriety in them so it’s not exciting everytime I play.

Totally agree Matt.

It’s really got an addictive hold over me.

Plus, can’t wait to try out the "movie sharing" feature in the final version. Unlike the Beta, guessing it will include some kind of editing system, where you can create your own highlight clips.

Which would be sweet… : )

@Garrett: Indeed, I will call you crazy! 😛 Saw some of the reviews Spider-Man 3 got. Yikes.

@Luke: I can’t say I remember the first game’s MP mode all that much since it was restricted to local play – I may have fired it up once or twice. Halo 3 MP is definitely built on the fundamentals of Halo 2. Given the success of Halo 2 and the fact that even now, 2 and a half years after its release, there’s 368,648 games being played in a 24 hour span is staggering. Bungie would have been foolish to change it too much.

@Nick: How do you mean? Waiting to be matched up with other players? I’ve had it stall a few times and refresh the list on me. Not too often, though.

@Dennis: Indeed, the movie sharing is a great addition. I’ve totally sat there and watched friends play 13+ minute matches a few times. I’m sure it’s basically been feature stripped at this point. Probably just test the load.

Lot’s of loading… loading… loading…

But co-op’ing a warthog while manning the turret was fun.

Actually Matt, it’s an awesome game in my eyes. Graphics are…oook, but pretty decent. Gameplay is fun, the webs and flying around New York is a killer time.

I atleast suggest you rent it or something…(If you like Spider-Man ofcourse.)

I demanded my friends get Crackdown, so I will be playing a lot more Halo 3.

I absolutely love the H3 Beta. I’ve spent way too many hours playing it since it was released to the public.

I’ve grown quite fond of the spike grenades. I’m extremely anxious to see the rest of the new maps that come out in September.

I love this game so far. I’ve been having a great time playing online. i don’t really want the beta to end anytime soon, but September is not too far away.

I canceled live because I found myself spending WAY to many hours playing Gears of War / Saints Row online. I’m somewhat afraid if I sign back up to enjoy the Halo 3 beta I’ll never look back.

By the way, I see you’re playing Crackdown right now. How is it? I chose Ghost Recon 2 over it and am kinda wondering if it was a good choice.

I just can’t wait to play Halo 3, too bad I don’t have the beta. Considering purchasing Crackdown just to have the opportunity of playing it 😛

Those graphics are bee-u-ti-ful.

I’m not a heavy gamer, but I’ll go to halo parties and play. This is exciting!

Uh oh… I have to disagree! *Hides* I just haven’t got into the Halo 3 Beta and, based on what I’ve played, I can’t see myself spending money on it when it comes out in September. There’s so many games I’m looking forward too though. Mainly Blue Dragon!

Put me in the “me too” category. I generally prefer more tactical shooters, but the Halo 3 Beta is a blast.

I love the spike grenades as well Matt, so much fun, especially when playing VIP, running up behind the VIP and slamming a spike grenade into the back of their head, take a jump back and watch the body fly 🙂

Then do it to the same team 5 times in a single game and listen to the rage coming from them in the post-game lobby… ah such fun 😀

yeh the halo 3 beta is pretty sweet, going off the man cannon in any of the vehicles is awesome, apart from the fact the game seems to make you barrel roll alot.

have you played the Colin McRae DIRT demo? now theirs a demo, looking excited for that more than forza.

I didn’t like it that much because i thought it was just a heavily polished version of halo 2. Video sharing is cool though!