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May 11, 2007 - It's been nearly three years since the release of Halo2. That's a long time to wait for one of the biggest videogame on planet Earth. After months of anticipation, the [Register or Login to view links] multiplayer Beta is finally here. Around the IGN office, we have two Halo camps. Some lived and breathed the first Halo. Others swear by Halo 2's online multiplayer. What can we say; some people love peanut butter, others love chocolate. Can Halo 3 be the Peanut Butter Cup dream we've been waiting for?

Some of IGN's top editors are taking a run at the Halo 3 Beta. Their impressions will appear over the next week. If you want even more details on weapons, vehicles and the maps, check out our [Register or Login to view links]. We've got everything covered.

Enjoy.

Hil's Take
It is awesome. After two-and-a-half years, the wait is finally over. And yes, it really is an awesome, fun, fast-paced experience. What else did you expect from Bungie, the crew that served up two of the greatest Xbox games of all time?

Three maps are included in the Beta, along with several matchmaker settings to keep anyone from getting bored over the next three weeks. The maps, Valhalla, High Ground, and Snowbound, make for a good sampling of what the full version Halo 3 might have to offer. Each is unique not only in visual design, but also in the flow of combat. Snowbound, for example, is very open and attacks will come from all sides. Other than bunker down in the base, there's no easy way to defend territory.

On the other hand, High Ground is designed for invasion-style play. There's a beach below, with a few weaponless ATVs, but unless its capture-the-flag, few will ever defend the area. Instead, those who spawn below will venture towards, you guessed it, the high ground. The base is difficult to penetrate if the other team knows their stuff, as there's a mounted turret at the top of the hill. In the right hands, it can decimate the other team. Fortunately, there a few places to take cover and work your way along the sides. High Ground has a few hotspots where the majority of action takes place. In a way to feels a bit like Zanzibar from Halo 2. And that's a good thing.

If you weren't a fan of Halo 2 multiplayer, you may be a little disappointed in the Beta. This is clearly more of a progression of Halo 2 than it is a sampling of the best from both games. Fall damage remains off, at least in the Beta, and it has a noticeable effect in High Ground. More than a few times, prey has escaped with a well-timed jump. There aren't any weapons placed in precarious positions (at least that I saw), so the Beta does remove some of the cheapness seen in Halo 2, where people risked nothing to try and grab hard-to-reach weapons.

While Halo 3 certainly plays a lot like Halo 2, it does play better. And that could swing some Halo 2 naysayers back onto the Bungie bandwagon. And once on the bandwagon, they will be easy picking for the laser.

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One of the best weapons in the Beta is the laser. Get to the high point of High Ground and you will find it. And with it, you can cause incredible havoc. Somewhat like the Hammer of Dawn in Gears of War, the laser takes time to charge. You need to focus the light on a target and wait. It's slow and not always easy to hit someone, but when you do, it's spectacular. The best is standing atop High Ground, sniping with the laser and watching as people frantically run for cover.

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