Microsoft has officially announced that specially marked boxes of Crackdown will include an invite to the Halo 3 multiplayer beta when it launches this Spring. Those who purchase the game will simply use the disc as a key to download the beta from Xbox Live Marketplace and join the action. Crackdown is released in the US on February 20, Europe on February 23 and Asia on February 22.
The company also announced another way to get in the beta: play Halo 2! Beginning February 1, 12.01 am PST, all gamers who participate in at least three hours of Halo 2 multiplayer via Xbox Live till February 3, 11.59 pm EST, and be among the first 13,333 to register at the Halo 3 website will get into the beta. This “Rule of Three” program is open to gamers across all regions.
The latest offshoot from Bungie is Certain Affinity, founded by industry veteran Max Hoberman. He has worked on the multiplayer component for Halo 2 and the upcoming Halo 3; developers from Digital Anvil, Origin as well as others from Bungie make up the rest of the team.
Certain Affinity will have a certain affinity towards Halo it seems, as, according to their announcement, the studio’s first project is developing multiplayer maps for Halo 2, which will be released by Microsoft this Spring. The company is also working on a new Xbox 360 title that will be unveiled at a later date.
The first official Halo 3 news comes in the form of a public beta announcement: gamers will be able to get an exclusive hands-on experience of the highly anticipated second sequel through the Xbox Live multiplayer public beta. The pre-release version of the multiplayer experience of Halo 3 is scheduled for availability in Spring 2007.
That wasn’t the only piece of news Bungie had for us. A 60-second Halo 3 teaser ad will be aired on December 4 in North America; those in the UK will see the ad on December 15 on Channel 4. Created by advertising agency McCann Erickson, the ad will provide viewers with a look at Master Chief and the world of Halo 3. The ad will be available for download via Xbox Live Marketplace and viewable on Xbox.com.
In addition, new maps for Halo 2 will also be available for download through Xbox Live Marketplace. No details were revealed.
Bungie’s latest Weekly Update talks about Halo 2 for Windows Vista in the same comical manner. Important information is given out (IT’S NOW PLAYABLE IN COLOR! w00t!) and a Sin City version of Master Chief is included…
Citing high-level sources in Microsoft, GamePro is reporting that the PC version of Halo 2 will hit some time after the launch of Windows Vista in Q1 2007.
They also learned some details on the game, one of which isn’t so exciting: Halo 2 will not feature cross-platform multiplayer, meaning that Xbox and PC gamers will only be fighting between themselves and not each other. However, the source cited was optimistic that a solution could be found.
It was also reported that Halo 2 will look “great” thanks to the use of DirectX 10 graphics in Vista. No details on the “great” look were offered. It was also stated that Microsoft will include a built-in map editor and modding system to help make the aging game more popular.
Halo 2, according to the report, is slated to hit sometime after the release of Windows Vista in Q1 2007.
With the PC version expected to launch besides Windows Vista, Bungie revealed two new bits of information about Halo 2. Apparently, the PC version of the game will feature ‘HD quality visuals’, though no screenshots or details have been released to support that.
The PC version of the game will also feature a map editor, allowing players to build all-new maps for the game. However, Bungie itself won’t be developing the editor – it’ll be joining forces with an outside team that has experience building such tools. As usual, no details are available.
The second volume of the Halo 2 Original Soundtrack will be available starting April 25, according to an announcement by Sumthing Else. Volume 2 consists of two CDs featuring nearly 70 minutes of compositions by Bungie’s Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. The track listing can be found here, and below is a comment from Martin O’Donnell on the back-story of the soundtrack release.
“In the summer of 2004 Nile Rodgers and I decided that it would be a good idea to present the music of Halo 2 in two separate volumes. The first volume would contain all the music that was finished and mixed plus some ‘inspired by’ music from groups whose music was being used in the game.”
Since the first Halo 2 soundtrack was assembled before the game actually shipped, it was always envisaged that the second volume would contain the rest of the game’s music, some of which Martin O’Donnell was still composing and producing, and would be rearranged for maximum listening pleasure.
“The music in Halo 2 will play back a little differently each time someone plays the game,” explains O’Donnell, “But on the soundtrack I have the opportunity to arrange the music in an album format. For Halo 2 Volume Two I decided to use a ‘suite’ structure that also corresponds to the chapters within the game. In a sense by listening to this soundtrack you will hear the musical representation on the story of Halo 2. Enjoy!”