Halo 3 Multi Player
On Sunday we reviewed the single player portions of Halo 3, Bungie and Microsoft's Xbox 360 shooter that is scheduled to officially launch at midnight tonight in the eastern time zone in the US. While the campaign and other single player aspects of Halo 3 are solid in terms of bringing a great first person shooter action game to the console, it's the multiplayer portion of the game that has been highly anticipated by long time Halo fans. After our review went up on Sunday, Bungie finally brought up the matchmaking servers online so we were able to get some real trigger time as we battled other players and tried out other aspects of the game. Our time confirmed that Bungie's efforts to make Halo 3's multiplayer a memorable experience exceeded our expectations.
If you are a first time online player, Halo 3 brings you on board gently. When you sign onto Xbox Live and start the game, you can enter into the matchmaking servers. They start you in a kind of training portion where you are limited to just two levels and only a few of the game's weapons and items. After you play just a few matches, your ranking in the game will go up and you accumulate experience points. The game then decides to let you leave the training area and opens up more matchmaking play lists for you to join. Your experience points and rank go up the more you play and the better you become in the game. Improving your rank opens up more ways for you to customize your player character's appearance (you can play as either a Spartan or Elite and they have a number of different armor designs as well as colors and emblems to choose from). Having a higher rank will also allow the matchmaking servers to find players that are close to your rank so that means more experienced players won't be able to jump on the newbies.
In terms of multiplayer maps, Halo 3 has a decent amount at 11, ranging from small levels like the forest themed Guardian all the way up to the large outdoor desert level Sandtrap and the forest themed map Valhalla (you can bet that Bungie will add to that number in the near future with extra maps via Xbox Live download). Halo 3 has nine basic gameplay types and all are quite varied, from the Deathmatch style Slayer to modes like Juggernaut (one player has lots of extra shields and other players have to shut him down to become the new Juggernaut) and Infection (kill and then infect other player to become like you). Bungie has added several variants for each of the nine gameplay types giving players a grand total of 36 multiplayer gameplay modes out of the box.