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CB Games Beta Diaries: Halo 3, Old Friends Again

Normally I would jump right into this whole writing thing with some sort of catchy phrase that would attempt to make you want to read more. I think, though, that if I tried to make today’s events seem like the world was ending I would just end up making myself seem like a big 'ole sensationalist D-Bag. Today was a good day in the Beta to be sure, but it’s nothing that’s going to rock the socks or knock the clocks of the CB jocks.

If you’ve been reading this feature day-to-day, you may remember that I’ve been spending a lot of my time so far in free-for-all games and generally ditzing around, just trying to experience everything that was out there. I felt that two days of "messing around" was enough, and today I decided to really take a chomp into the meat of Halo. Team games were the soup du jour. One can play as many free-for-all matches as one wants, but to truly experience the full breadth of the majesty of Halo one must join with a trio of blokes, and traipse around the map firing weapons until victory is attained. Hmm okay, maybe that isn’t the best way to say it. Let me try again. To fully appreciate Halo you have to squad up with three other Bad***es and blow the living s*** out of everything that moves. Actually that’s not very good either. You get the idea, though.

Like I said, today was all about team games and that’s what we need to discuss first. I tried out three brand new gametypes today and boy howdy was I ever impressed. Bungie never ceases to amaze with their rock solid design expertise. They’ve obviously learned a lot of lessons from Halo 2 and the new game types show it. The first new game that I played was VIP. This was very interesting for me. For those who don’t know, VIP is a game where each team has one member dubbed the VIP and he is given an overshield and is generally very hard to kill. Nearly impossible in a one-on-one situation. Points are scored by killing the other teams VIP. The trick comes in what I just said, they’re nearly impossible to kill mano-e-mano. You have to communicate with your squad members to decide plans of attacks and when to go on offense and defense. The VIP itself, interestingly enough, actually plays like a Queen in chess. He/she is very powerful, but also very valuable. So the reward must outweigh the risk. At first I thought I hated this setup, because my first match on the Valhalla map was filled with a bunch of morons who had no idea what was going on or how to play the damn game. (For the record I am fully understanding of noob innocence, and have never blamed a new player for not understanding the rules of a game. These were corporals and sergeants though. No excuse.)

The next type I got into was Land Grab. This is a game that places a number of points around the map for capture. No this isn’t territories from Halo 2. See, the difference is that the points are locked once they're captured and cannot be taken away. The game is over once all points are capture, obviously with the winning team being the team that captured the most. This game is just a blast. Matches are relatively short (consisting of three rounds) but they are so fast, visceral and intense that it makes up for it. Put a man in a match of Slayer and watch his muscles tense. Give a man a reason and a cause to kill for (ex: a territory) and watch his veins pulse with intensity.

Last but not least was the new and improved Territories. Now I know what you’re thinking, “bu…bu…but Andrew…you said they wuh wuh were all new games.” Trust me Territories is so much better now that it’s an insult to compare it to the disgustingly bad Halo 2 version. There was a very good reason why territories got phased out of the matchmaking game selection. The new type of territories is now a round based affair. Offense and defense. Two teams, five points, five minutes. Offense has to capture as many points as possible during that time -- switch sides -- and then prevent the other team from besting that score. It’s so good. It’s also worth noting that the points take around 35-40 seconds each to capture, so taking a territory doesn’t happen on accident. The original Territories was a mess because maps could be taken and taken back easily, not dissimilar to how the Battlefield/Battlefront games are structured. The problem was that the maps were too small and players would just slip behind enemy lines and capture unguarded points. It was a sloppy mess. The new version rectifies that by making it a Offense/Defense affair.

I fell in love with the Bruteshot today. I discovered I’m deadlier than Wesley Snipes when I wield it. Other than cool new game types, there isn’t much else to report. If you’re in on the beta give me a shout. My Xbox Live gamertag is Hadrian. Come on, I love meeting fellow gamers. How about this, we’ll play on Valhalla and blow s*** up in a Warthog…sound good to you? What time should I pick you up?