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Halo madness! New H2 maps, H3 public beta!

Okay folks, the big news is here. It turns out that the "BIG" Halo announcement is neither a Halo 3 release date nor the long awaited Marathon Arcade. Is it actually worthy of the capitalized BIG (we all remember the BIG GOW announcement)? Maybe we're overstepping our bounds here, but we're going to say yes. Big yes. It's BIG. It turns out the BIG announcement is actually three announcements rolled into one megannouncement.

The first announcement: new maps are coming for Halo 2! These maps will only be available for Xbox 360 owners sometime in the Spring. Frankly, we're excited. We never would have anticipated something that could make us dust off Halo 2, but there it is. We'd also like to point out that it's a brilliant -- if somewhat dastardly -- move on Microsoft's part to release these maps exclusively on 360. Naturally, there are thousands (millions?) of Halo 2 players that are quite happy playing it on their original Xbox. Sure, they'll probably get a 360 when Halo 3 comes out, and Microsoft knows it. So, if you can't sell those people Halo 3 until next winter, just sell them Halo 2 ... again! We should note that Bungie hopes that Microsoft will eventually make this content available for original Xbox owners, but in the meantime it's a great incentive (for Halo 2 addicts) to upgrade to 360 right now. At any rate, we're excited as hell to play us some new maps. Here's hoping they can squeeze out some new graphical effects offered by the 360. Also worth noting, the new maps mean that MS is taking another look at Halo 2's backwards compatibility glitches, so some of those should be ironed out in the future.

The second announcement is that a new 60 second Halo 3 commercial will air on December 4th during ESPN's Monday Night Football. The new commercial will be produced by a third party agency and actually won't feature any gameplay. The commercial will be all CGI, though Bungie has loaned many of its in game models and assets to be used in the commercial. So, it may be CG, but it will feature some in game aspects of Halo 3. If the Halo 2 maps are a clever way to get fans to buy 360s, then this commercial is a clever way to get people like me to watch football. However, if you can't bring yourself to do that, the commercial will be made available on Marketplace after it airs.

Now for the BIG part of this announcement, a public beta of Halo 3 multiplayer will be made available this Spring! It will be playable over Xbox Live and allow users to leave feedback to help Bungie improve the multiplayer experience. Unfortunately, that's about all we know about the beta. Right now, we have no idea how many people will be allowed to participate, exactly what will be available, or even how it will be distributed -- though we assume it will be downloadable through Marketplace. Here's hoping they take a page from the PSU beta and make it available to everyone for a limited amount of time. And, before it even starts, we'd like to ask Bungie two questions. One, you're letting the fine bloggers of 360 Fanboy in, right (or just me, that would be fine, too)? Two, can we play it right up to the day Halo 3 releases? Pleeeeeease!

Finally, we have the above screenshot (grab the hi-res version here). Bungie promises that the shot is an actual still from the current build of Halo 3. Looks pretty good, eh? Unfortunately, it is intentionally vague so as not to give even the tiniest thing away. It makes for a nice wallpaper though. And there you have it. Big Halo news indeed, with Bungie promising more info in the coming weeks. Hit up Bungie.net for Frankie's version of the press release. Alternately, you can check out Joystiq's angry, sleepless recounting of events (you'd think they would have learned that it's never worth staying up late for news by now ....).

So what do you think of this news? Happy? Sad? Indifferent? Leave a comment and tell us how you feel.

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1. Thats awesome! I am one of those "thousands" of xbox 360 owners that play halo 2 still. Great news to hear. :D

Posted at 10:31AM on Nov 15th 2006 by nizzy1115 0 stars

2. I think the new maps for h2 is great, but the public
beta for h3 is
not. Many people will take the beta as finished product and
complain... then post and blog about it... just like what happened
will PSU beta...

Posted at 10:34AM on Nov 15th 2006 by ljbad4life 0 stars

3. The BAD hidden in the BIG is that Halo3 won't be out until Fall/Winter of next year.

The non-playable "demo" at E3 was a bad sign, but this sets it in stone. A public beta of H3 multi means that a full H3 Spring release is out (I had hopes).


Posted at 10:35AM on Nov 15th 2006 by EatingPie 4 stars

4. How much will it cost was the first thing that came to my mind. I'm not sure if I'm willing to pay for a multiplayer Beta just to hand out more money a few months later for the full game.

Posted at 10:47AM on Nov 15th 2006 by ersatz 0 stars

5. @Irwin

It's called "hype"

Posted at 10:49AM on Nov 15th 2006 by crono999 0 stars

6. I think the beta will be part of a preorder program

Posted at 10:52AM on Nov 15th 2006 by chaching 0 stars

7. Bungie fans may want to look closely at the assault rifle in the new pic- just a bit above MC's right index finger.

What's that?

Yep- it's the Marathon symbol. Nice touch.

Posted at 10:59AM on Nov 15th 2006 by KilgoreTrout XL 1 star

8. OMG all this is great, I still have the time to enjoy GoW and then play the demos and new levels of Halo 2, but I want the release date NOW!!! hehehe lol

Posted at 11:06AM on Nov 15th 2006 by Gerardo D. Aguirre 0 stars

9. Im made they think this is news. Its junk personally its an annoucement that is for an annoucement of the beta being released.

Posted at 11:02AM on Nov 15th 2006 by ELiteGamer 0 stars

10. OMG. They call this news? Halo 2 maps in spring. WTF? What happened to Halo 3 in spring? Public Beta? Yeah right. Bungie will never make it properly public, just a select few people in the industry. New CG commercial? Oooohhhhoohoh I'm so friggin excited [/sarcasm]. Disappointing Bungie. It's moments like these in which I contemplate selling my 360 and getting a PS3.

Posted at 11:38AM on Nov 15th 2006 by Uberplum 0 stars

11. Take your time on H3 Bungie. To me, it's far better to wait for a polished, FINISHED product. This will be 360's flagship game and basically needs to be near perfection. it will be awesome. there's plenty of bitchin games comin in the meantime.

Posted at 12:06PM on Nov 15th 2006 by Alice Unchained 0 stars

12. announcements about things to come in the future are so stupid and pointless imho.

tell us when we can have it.

Posted at 11:05AM on Nov 15th 2006 by JRock3x8 - 2o2p 0 stars

13. Hey we will be able to play those new maps on Halo 2 with out having to worry about being modded that will be nice...

Posted at 12:10PM on Nov 15th 2006 by NEO1X 0 stars

14. Lame. I'll trade new maps for cheating and emulation fixes. But yeah, that's great that they fix the emulation when it becomes profitable for them to do so.

Posted at 2:15PM on Nov 15th 2006 by dan s. 0 stars

15. Did anybody pick up on the fact that the Halo 3 screenshot is in a resolution LARGER than 1080p?!

Posted at 3:24PM on Nov 15th 2006 by ahamsandwich 0 stars

16. why is everyone so worried about the exact release date? is that going to make it come any sooner? Sure it may discourage them from pushing it back further, but still, it will come out when it comes out, regardless of whether or not you know when that is.

I dunno, maybe I'm wrong, but I'm excited about new maps, eventually.

Posted at 3:56PM on Nov 15th 2006 by Alden 0 stars

17. the release date should be november of 2007 obviously

Posted at 11:56AM on Nov 15th 2006 by SIEN 0 stars

18. I am guessing a Fall release for Halo 3....Today next year.

Hopefully Xbox Live Diamond beta open to people paying for Xbox Live.

Posted at 1:17PM on Nov 15th 2006 by Matt T. 0 stars

19. Can't they still soft-mod by transferring modded saved data to the 360 HDD with the Datel hard drive/memory card tools?

I love the idea of stabbing er stopping modders...even just for a short time, but I don't think it will be as glorious as we'd like.

In a sweeter gaming world, all the modders would go to the PS3. We want them there, away from us.

Posted at 1:15PM on Nov 15th 2006 by SuicideNinja 0 stars

20. Irwin:

"part of the announcement was a Halo 3 addervistement in december of this year. why would microsoft want to do a tv add for a product that is being released a year later."

I recon the advert will say "Finish The Fight A Year From Today" - This due to the fact that December 4 (the date the ad aires) 2007 falls on a Tuesday, This beeing the date most games are released in America

Posted at 4:25AM on Nov 16th 2006 by DSK UK 0 stars

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