Halo: Reach beta now available

Morning all – I hope you had a good Bank Holiday yesterday (if you’re in the UK). As well as a day off, yesterday saw the release of the multiplayer beta for the last Halo game on Xbox 360 – Halo: Reach. If you have a copy of Halo 3: ODST and an Xbox LIVE Gold membership you’ll be able to download the beta and get a preview of what’s coming this autumn.

What I’ve seen of Halo: Reach so far is pretty impressive. The graphics look gorgeous and the new game modes are plenty of fun. I say, “what I’ve seen so far” because it looks like the servers were a bit overloaded with everyone trying the game out. I wasn’t able to get a connection for a couple of hours, but I guess that’s to be expected since this the beta test.

The in-game additions I’m most keen on are much more customisable armour, and the jet-pack Spartans! It’s immense fun to swoop down on your enemies from above, although you do seem to be quite easy to shoot down. The SWAT game mode is also fantastic fun, where you team up against an opposing group armed with combat rifles. I have no idea how some of the guys I’m up against get headshots so often!

What’s really handy, though, is the new matchmaking system. You can tell it whether you want to prioritise playing with people who have a fast connection, who speak the same language as you, or who have a similar skill level to you. You can also tell it whether you want to play against people who use the communicator a lot, or who hardly speak at all, team players or lone wolves, and “polite” or “rowdy” players. Oh it’s all so civilised until you start blowing each other to smithereens.

Halo: Reach is a free download, so long as you have Halo 3: ODST and Xbox LIVE Gold. You’ll need around 1.5Gb of space on your Xbox 360. If you meet the requirements, download it, and we might just meet in battle.

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