Halo 3 Beta Due on Xbox Live May 16

Microsoft and Bungie Studios have announced that the multiplayer beta of its forthcoming Halo 3 game title for the Xbox 360 will to live on its Xbox Live service on May 16, 2007, running through June 6th. As one might guess from the title, Halo 3 is the third installment of Microsoft’s Halo sci-fi battle franchise, and follows the adventures of Master Chief as he fights to stop the alien Covenant, destroy the impending Flood thread, and (naturally) save all humanity.

"Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 changed the face of console gaming forever," said Shane Kim, corporate VP of Microsoft Game Studios. "Gamers from around the world have logged more than 800 million hours on Xbox Live playing Halo 2, and years after its launch it remains the No. 1 title on our Xbox Live network. Bringing an early look at the multiplayer elements of Halo 3 to our passionate fan base is tremendously exciting for us."

Want to participate in the beta? That might be tricky if you haven’t been paying attention like a true, devoted Halo fan. The official ticket to the Halo 3 beta was through Microsoft’s "Rule of Three" promotion, which was included in the Xbox 360 game Crackdown; beta participants must also have an Xbox Live Gold account. Games who didn’t buy Crackdown to get into the Halo 3 beta still can: copies marked with a Halo 3 beta sticker purchased before the beta period begins on May 16 will act as a key letting gamers download and take part in the beta.

If buying Crackdown just isn’t on your agenda, Bungie has thoughtfully posted some trailer video and behind-the-scenes footage on its Web site; the videos are also available via Xbox Live Marketplace.

The Halo 3 beta will offer three maps (Valhalla, High Ground, and Snowbound) offering a mix of large- and medium-scale combat environments. Players will be able to take control of new vehicles and take each other on with new weapons, including a new Assault Rifle, the Brute Spiker, the Spartan Laser, and new Spike Grenades.

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