It's going to be very strange indeed when the sound of Spartan Laser fire finally stops blaring from our corner of the office next week. It's been a fun few weeks caning post-work Slayer sessions and arguing in the pub over who's the best Warthog driver, but alas, it's time to grin and bare the wait until Halo 3 arrives on September 26.
GADGETS AND GIZMOS
For all the controversy surrounding Bungie's inclusion of equipment into multiplayer, we think Halo 3's new gadgets went down fantastically well. Bubble Shields, Power Drainers and Portable Grav Lifts all added to the gameplay without giving you a direct advantage - and they're bloody good fun to use as well. Top marks.
The violent, pulsating explosion of the Power Drainer just has to be loved, and there's nothing better at disturbing a fight than dropping the metallic ball right in the middle.
The Bubble Shield was far less disruptive to the Halo formula than the community predicted. Of course it's more of a last-ditch defensive tool than something you can use to get the upper hand on your opponent, but then of course the shield addeds new strategy to Territories and Crazy King.
Even in these beta stages the weapons proved to be incredibly well balanced as well (apart from perhaps a little tweaking between the combine and battle rifle). Everything of the Spiker-variety is a fantastic addition to the Halo universe - if only for the satisfying sound effect of a hundred white hot nails plunging into your victim's face.
We know it has to get old, we really do, but we can't ever see sticking people with Spiker grenades being any less hilarious in two years than it is now.
Dual-wielded Spikers are simply known as "the death sticks" in the CVG office, but they're nothing compared to the outright awesome-ness of the revamped Needler.
Unless you're an excellent grenade marksman, have a shotgun in the enemy's face or a decent gadget up your sleeve, there's little chance you'll beat a Needler in a one-on-one fight. Then again, it's of no use when it comes to big-man scuffles. Please don't change the needler Bungie; we love it.
OUR NEW CAMPING SPOT
Similarities were made immediately to Halo 2 favourite Zanzibar, but High Ground really does offer a whole different kind of flow, and we're sure will fit comfortably alongside the Halo 3 remake of the former.
Like most of the beta maps it offers multiple types of fighting styles. The Spikers and Brute Shot are tactically placed inside the upper base for close-quarters carnage, while the sniper rifle and rocket launcher are down south where the more frantic, rock-hopping carnage goes down.
This is also probably the Beta's best demonstration of the Mongoose. There's not enough room to stick a Warthog in there, and without a man cannon the nifty Mongoose is your quickest way of jumping into the fight and of course, ferrying the flag right out of the other team's clutches.
Valhalla raises just as few complaints. Even though we only really got to experience it properly once big team battle arrived, Valhalla turned out to be perfect for territories games and mad-dash sessions of Crazy King. Plus if we winded up with quitting opponents we could always amuse ourselves by driving in a man cannon or climbing trees.
With the amount of vetos Snowbound's racked up we wouldn't be surprised if it didn't even make it to the final game. Maybe we're just rubbish snipers, or maybe we really can't drive a Ghost to save our lives, but this map really didn't strike well with the CVG firing squad at all.