Yesterday I had the chance to finally get some hands-on time with the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta. For those of you unfamiliar with geek terms, a beta is an unfinished version of a final product where user testing is implemented to work out any remaining bugs within the specified product. I applaud Bungie for providing a beta for most of their games, which is why Bungie’s games are usually glitch free for the most part unlike EPIC and Infinity Ward, cheap shot!
Let’s just say that the beta itself caused Bungie some issues yesterday. The first issue was the sheer number of gamers that downloaded the beta and started playing with it. By 3PM EST, there were so many gamers pulling the beta down it took nearly an hour to download the file itself. Once that was done you couldn’t even play a damn game because the servers fried from all of the traffic. Yes, high amounts of data traffic can literally fry server hardware, impressive. What gets me is that Bungie was expecting 3 million people to play the beta, so why didn’t their IT staff prepare for this influx? Someone should punish those geeks and take away their fake lightsabers and make them go out with a real person!
I didn’t get my first crack at the actual gameplay until late last night. I came away from the experience with mixed emotions. To be honest, Halo: Reach MP is just another flavor of Halo MP. There are a few changes like the weapon loadouts, decreased jumping height, and new game-types, but it still feels like playing any Halo game in the series.
The perks you get with each loadout are quite interesting, with the Airborne/Jet-pack ability being the fan favorite. It felt like watching an army of Boba Fetts whipping through the air with deadly force. I was waiting for the Sarlaac pit to appear and Han Solo accidentally knocking us all into it. The other perks are entertaining, and they’re really the only major change to the Halo Universe’s multiplayer. Besides that, the beta felt like any other Halo game you’ve ever played. You run around pumping insane amounts of ammo into your foes while trying to punch them out and throw grenades at the same time.
Speaking of the melee function, it’s one of the biggest F’ ups in Halo: Reach. For some odd reason Bungie decided to map the melee attack to the RB button. WTF is that all about? Every gamer knows that the Halo melee button is B. I found my Halo instincts repeatedly tapping B instead of RB to punch someone, and it cost me multiple unwarranted deaths. It made for some interesting outbursts on my part, and in my opinion it’s a shit move. Why make B the button that changes your grenade type? It makes no flipping sense, and the worst part is that the alternate control schemes suck just as bad, so you’re stuck with it.
Outside of me just sucking at shooters sometimes, I still had a good time playing the Halo: Reach beta. The new menu interface is one of the best features and eliminates any sense of drilling into various menus to do certain things. You can pretty much manage your party, armor, and social settings all from within one menu.
The whole social settings deal is pretty unique. You can set what type of gamer you are by selecting your social preferences such as chatting, type of gamer, and type of Halo player. All of these customizations will help get you in a match with gamers that like to play the same way as you. It should help eliminate getting in games with hardcore douchebags, or a team full of lone-wolves. Screw you angry 10 year-olds!
The other big change from other Halo titles is the inclusion of credits to buy new armor pieces. Basically, you get credits for performing certain feats within a match. These can range from acquiring medals, winning, kills, etc. I’m still not sure if the new armor pieces you buy actually do anything besides change your look, but it’s a nice reward system to keep you motivated and playing more games than you probably should.
The Halo: Reach beta is nothing more than your typical Halo multiplayer that we’ve all been playing since the beginning of the franchise. There are some unique additions like the class loadouts and unique abilities tied to each one, but in its essence, Halo: Reach MP is still just like any other Halo MP offering. Lots of shooting, grenade tossing, and excessive meleeing. Although, it still is pretty damn addictive. I’d definitely recommend downloading it if you have a copy of Halo: ODST, but don’t expect to be blown away with new innovations. You’ve had your melee button messed with…
E.B. “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”