I’ve been playing the Halo 3 Beta for a few hours. It’s pretty slick. All the comments about it being ugly are silly. For one thing there’s a lot more stuff going on than in say, Gears of War, so it’s expected that things aren’t quite as loaded full of polygons, plus the areas are huge. It still looks very good in HD, and besides, the gameplay is what it’s about, right? Any whining about the delay is just that. Whining. Like everybody who wants to get ahold of the beta isn’t going to play it and eventually buy Halo 3 anyway.

There’s tons of new weapons, and most of the standard ones have been changed. The so called “noob combo” has been taken away from the hoards of people who like cheap shots, since the plasma gun doesn’t track like it used to. The Spartan Laser is going to be big. The sheer amount of strategy embedded in weapons and other items is astonishing. For example, the plasma gun will temporarily disable a vehicle when a charged shot is fired at one. Imagine dropping a grav lift before an obstacle, then an ally in a Mongoose drives over it, sending them over it and into enemy territory. Halo 2 had incredible balance between weapons and vehicles, and Halo 3 seems to take it further.

One level I played, Valhalla, a level reminicent of the very first campaign chapter in Halo 1, is wonderfully designed. For such a large area there’s tons of places to hide and paths to take. High Ground was very good too, while Snowbound was mostly boring.

I don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been said, but I will say this, it’s perfectly fine. No apparent screwups, just a sequel to a game. An incremental improvement on a working formula. There’s enough new weapons and ideas to keep everybody on their toes, but plenty of skills transfer over, what else do you need?

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