Microsoft has let it be known that a multiplayer beta version of its forthcoming game Halo 3 will be released on May 16, 2007 — but it’s only coming to the Xbox 360.
Halo 3 is the latest installment of the enormously popular first-person shooter franchise created by Microsoft’s Bungie Studios. It tells of humanity’s ongoing war against an alien race known as The Covenant, and features a character known only as Master Chief, a cybernetically enhanced human warrior that players act as within the game.
Bungie started life as a Mac game developer and created beloved franchises like Myth, a series of squad-based strategy games, and the Marathon series of action games. Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in the late 1990s after it had debuted an early development version of Halo on stage at Macworld Expo and advertised it as coming soon to Mac and Windows.
Following Bungie’s acquisition, Halo was reinvented as an Xbox exclusive, and was heavily promoted when the video game console first debuted. Ultimately Halo did make it to the Macintosh several years later, a few weeks after its Windows version shipped, as a title sold by
MacSoft. MacSoft has kept the game alive by
releasing a Universal binary update
in mid-2006 that enables Halo to be played natively on Intel-based Macs.
Ultimately, Bungie created Halo 2, again as an Xbox exclusive, and it proved to be an enduring hit — in fact, one of the best-selling games in the history of the console. In February, 2006, Microsoft announced plans to bring
Halo 2 to Windows Vista. No Mac plans have been announced, and it looks like the Halo franchise won’t be returning to the Mac any time soon.
With Halo’s dominance as an Xbox title, it’s perhaps little wonder that the game will debut as an Xbox 360 exclusive. Players who have purchased a copy of the game “Crackdown” with a Halo 3 beta label affixed to the box, or players who have taken part in Microsoft’s “Rule of Three” promotion, will be allowed to download the beta version through Microsoft’s Xbox Live service beginning May 16 at 1PM GMT. The beta test is scheduled to run through June 7th.
Players who take part in the beta will be able to explore three multiplayer maps, entitled Snowbound, High Ground and Valhalla. They’ll also be able to mess around with new vehicles and weapons in the game, including the Spartan Laser and Mongoose all-terrain vehicle.
More details about the forthcoming beta and a “Vidoc” discussing the beta and the game’s development are available from the
Bungie.net Web site.