Halo 3 Beta Impressions

Too early? Maybe, but this picture will show you the reason for my early Halo 3 retirement.

Today I traded in Crackdown, my gateway to the H3 beta, for a decent amount of credit for Forza Motorsport 2 that will be coming out tomorrow. Sorry Halo fanboys, but I prefer driving my virtual RX-7 over pretending to be Master Chief.

A week ago I praised H3’s beta for having a few good traits here such as weapon balancing and map design as my first impressions. After much extensive play, I still view them as well-designed features by Bungie. The problem with my beta experience doesn’t rely on them, but on another matter.

The game is too much like Halo 2.

As I slowly pumped hours into the hype machine known as “Multiplayer Beta”, I begin to realize that the game wasn’t much different from it’s predecessor. The graphics looked like Halo 2 with sharper textures and online matchmaking still takes two to three years to find a game. Some might argue that Bungie didn’t want to rock the boat to cater to the fans. This is decent argument, but many developers in the past have been giving facelifts to their games and still did incredibly well, such as Quake and Unreal. Graphically, Halo 3 does not look like a Next-Gen game. All you need to do is compare Halo 3 screenshots to other games like the upcoming Bioshock or Gears of War and you’ll see the difference.

Control wise, H3 has improved quite a bit. The controller is definitely a bit more responsive then Halo 2 and 1. As someone who recently jumped in and didn’t have much experience with Halo 2, I still managed to remain competitive against those who obviously played more then I did. However, during the entire beta session, H3 still feels like a PC game port rather then something that belongs on a console. Without the support of a keyboard and mouse, it’s really hard for veteran FPS players like myself to get into H3 due to the fast moving game play and wide open areas.

So the big question is, is it worth it? If you really like the Halo series, it’s going to replace your social life. The new weapons and grenades add a whole lot of depth to the game like the bubble shield and the portable grav-lift. The weapons are much more balanced this time around and the starter weapon is no longer the useless SMG. But if you are expecting something that will push the limits of today’s current technology or present innovative features to the shooter genre, I’ll use a butchered Obi-Wan quote to give you my answer.

“This isn’t the game you’re looking for”

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