Quick Note: It took me 3+ hours to put this together. I'm doing this in Notepad, it's now 3:09 AM, and I don't have access to a spell/grammar check. So respect what I write, please. I'm sure I'm going to have a spelling/grammar/homophone mistake or two. I'm considering making it its own thread, because I'd really like to hear others' feedback to my observations.
Beta impressions by JT
Disclaimer: I don't want any "I told you so!" responses from 'Cuse, Matt, etc.; because as I've stated in the past, I love Halo 2, I'll always love Halo 2, and no amount of bitching or comparing or whatever else will convince me otherwise.
Chapter1 -- AutoAim/Magnetism
The first thing I noticed was the complete and utter neutering of auto-aim. I really failed to realize just how dependent I had become on that "feature" in Halo 2 with the BR. You'll see some people saying that the AA is "scaled down" or "reduced." When compared to H2, those terms don't do it justice. Let me explain further. With our BR starts, here's how I approached a 1v1 gun battle. If the first shots were fired from each combatant at the (relatively) same time, I would then start strafing left/right in time with the bursts from the BR, pulling the trigger when the crosshair went over the poor fellow. After shot 3 hit, I would jump in the air to cause the opponent to have to aim higher, since he was also close to or at shot 3. Now here's the kicker and what I realize now: with jumping like that, the autoaim would (more often than not) get the head in my sight and a pull of the trigger ended the battle.
No more. You see, before, just before that last shot, there was this "moment." A zen-esque state where I KNEW the battle was over. I didn't realize I was doing it until my first game on Snowbound and my first encounter with someone that had a BR, same as me. I saw the shields blink out (much more noticeable than in Halo 2, I might add, but more on that in a moment), I jumped up, pulled the trigger, and the guy didn't die. I ended up dead, because of what I just said I didn't realize I was doing, and that is this: I STOPPED MOVING. I returned both sticks to the neutral position, instead of continuing my motion that would have pulled autoaim off of my enemy in H2. What I thought was a zen-like moment of peace turned out to be a moment where I let the game play itself. (Yanowutimeen, 'Cuse!)
Yes, I knew H2's AA was there. But I only "noticed it" when I was trying to pull off a precision jump in Lockout where just before I jumped, my reticule clipped an enemy and it pulled me offline and instead of going from center ledge to ledge of grav to flag, I hit the damn post in front of the flag and fell off the map. Which only happened about 6 times that I can remember in the 5000 hours of H2 that I've played.
After a few hours, I think I adjusted pretty well, and I definitely think that this will allow for true separation of players/groups.
Chapter 2 -- melees
They feel like I remember from Halo:CE. Now, I've stated plenty of times that I only played against, at most, 2 other people on HCE. I didn't play much HCE MP. I enjoyed what I did play. I think I'm one of the few people who openly enjoy Boarding Action from what I hear in our discussions in the clan confcalls. I absolutely hated Longest. Of course, Damnation is probably one of the game's best maps, if not one of the best of the series. I feel like I know enough about HCE to converse intelligently about it. From what I remember, this melee feels just like it did in that game. I can see why people were upset over the lunge melees in H2. In H3, if you miss, there's no accompanying "vacuum" to the backside of the other player. The only time I really noticed lunges missing in H2 was when the target was on a slope/grade. It just seemed like the programmers did a poor job of handling the "lunge" effect. It's like the lunge only went "forward," which on a slope would clip the attacker just short of the target. So, in theory, if you "overcorrected" your lunge by looking way high for enemies above or way low for enemies below, then it would hit. But, at the same time, isn't that the definition of inconsistent. I uttered my share of "fuckin' melees..." while waiting on respawn, but it didn't impact me negatively the way it did others.
In H3... Yes, there is some lunge. But it's negligible. Plus, it sure does help to be airborne. Sharpe and I had at least 4 Neo/Mr. Smith-esque midair lunge battles, which I won two. We may have had more, but I distinctly remember two. And a 50% win ratio for me just sounds more respectable. lawl. One was when he had the sniper on Snowbound's high base, and I charged him with my MA5C. He missed his snopes, which I knew meant a jump melee would be his only chance. I literally beat him to the punch. Another time, I had dual spikers gunning for him. I think he just had the AR. He didn't back up, we both jumped at the same time, my screen went red, and I thought I was respawning. I then saw the medal, realized that the beepbeepbeep were my shields being gone, and said, "Sit down, Sharpie!"
That's my point. You remember a lot more from this game and apply it to later battles.just out of necessity.
Chapter 3 -- sniping
Yeah, boy! Whew-HOO! I speak the truth! Do I ever suck at sniping! But I feel -- no, I KNOW -- I can get better. My issue with sniping in HALO 2 was related to auto-aim. I literally had to draw a line from outside lined up with the head, because the magnetism involved caused me to want to jerk the dot off the enemy because the damn reticule wasn't MOVING LIKE IT WAS A HALF-SECOND AGO! Well, again, old habits are hard to break. But the lack of AA now means that I don't have to be predicting where the head is going to be. I can target the enemy, and then move up the body to the head without the cursor going all "DON'T U WANT 2 SHOOT NOW, ROFL!11!"
Human snipe -- awesome sound, realistic fire rate. Should hold six rounds if you can't put two quick rounds out there anymore.
Beam -- I handled it twice. I died once before firing it, because a teammate tried to gank it from my kill instead of worrying about the two enemies swarming me trying to give Sharpe some help. After respawn, the teammate asked "Where'd the sniper go?" My response, "Oh, I picked it up after I killed Sharpe. But then the guys you ignored while looking for it killed me. They probably went into the tunnels with it." Sure enough, about 20 seconds later, beams started coming from the other base. I think GhostBlur got his face sniped off with it. Technically, I can't tell a difference. Seems to have the same rate of fire. Put rounds out there as quickly as you want, just get ready for the overheating.
Chapter 4 -- Weapons, Old and New
I <3 dual Brute Spikers. Voc can diss me all he wants ("you'll get over that quickly"), but I say the BRAPBRAPBRAP of facemelting DeathSex coming out of those barrels and the molten spikes impaling your enemies soon to be corpse (just like the needler, minus the satisfying explosion) had me giddy as a school girl. Satisfaction!
SMGs are decent! Notice, I said "SMGs." As in plural. These things fire unbelievably fast. It doesn't really look like you're doing much, since there's no accompanying projectiles visible, just muzzle flash. I want to see these things firing into water. I'm sorry, but I did spend most of my Valhalla time just looking around. The one time I did focus on the game, I came right up behind Sharpe and Supa, and proceeded to sticky-destroy both of them, only to be killed on the respawn when my mancannon-launch-after-sniper-rifle-theft-escape failed.
Note: I hope this is my last mention of Sharpe. He's my fave teammate! It sounds like I was targeting him... I can team up with him in ways that seem to annoy other people. He actually likes it when I give him cover. But I guarantee you his killing me was a 3-1 ratio. Not the secks without drinks I make it sound like...
Shotgun: Yes, it's as good as advertised. I dropped a shield from distance, then killed on the next shot. When maps are learned, watch the hell out... The rate of fire is difficult to adjust to. Sorry, haven't had a chance to test the spread pattern.
Brute Shot: If Ivan's writeup is correct, and it takes 4 grenades to kill, then that's BS. it should be 2 direct hits. I think Ivan's right, though, because I pumped Niterider 3 times point blank, and he kept on going. Bungie did a good thing increasing its capacity, but took the proverbial two steps back with its decision to weaken them.
Carbine: Would someone recount the magazing, please? Everybody said it had 36 shots. I swear it's still 18. I prefer this to the BR without autoaim.
Plasma Pistol: To prevent comboing, the charger needs to deplete faster. It seems like it's going slower than 1 per seconds. It should be at least double.
Plasma Rifle: Never used it. They were usually found in pairs. No thanks.
Spartan Laser: I've suggested this to Bungie -- Have the charger deplete on it to prevent "banking" the charge. A cumulative three seconds of charge should lead to a reduction by 20%, just like three consecutive seconds. Whatever math or class methods that need to be programmed to make that happen should be implemented. It's annoying to think that you have more than enough time to take down this SL guy, only to have him fry you in a second because he's priming the fire button.
BR: Awesome, still. Some people may not like it without magnetism.
Needler: I only picked it up twice. On Snowbound. I got BR'd before I could really test it out.
Chapter 5 -- UI
Bungie, FTW! The carnage report is amazing. You can see all medals, right guys??? ;-) The menu needs updated, though. Nobobdy really knew about pressing the shoulder buttons to scroll and seeing more aspects of the report, including individual player details.
The new control scheme Will be awesome in the future. Right now, not so much. When I can custom map equipment to d-pad and team chat to X, then it'll be adaptable. Until then, it's beyond repair for me (more in a moment). Instead of hearing the usual "The UI is broken!!111!" stuff you read on b.net, here's my breakdown:
Halo 2 Action Halo 3
X --> board/pick up/reload --> RB (LB when dual-wielding)
RB --> Switch Grenade Type --> LB
LB --> Team Chat --> D-Pad
D-Pad--> -no function- --> X (yes, I know)
Y --> Dual-Wield --> LB
I love independent reload. I don't love that they mapped the pickup for it to something other than Y. It leads to two mistakes. To dual wield, I keep holding down Y. To switch weapons, I keep pressing what I think is "dual-wield," so LB. Notice also that the "switch grenades" is now completely opposite from what it was. It's an adjustment, to put it mildly, since with 3 grenade types and only 2 of each (MiaM), grenade use should be planned out and well-executed.
On X: Face-buttons are important. To have a face-button mapped to something that you'll use maybe 3 times a game is idiotic. I deployed equipment 3 times (2 land mines, one BS) on purpose all morning. I died with it or misused it at least a dozen more. So, in the 22 games I played, I used X 3 times. I had the opportunity to use it maybe once a game. Whoever said, "Let's have X serve one purpose that maybe 2 or 3 people at most on the map have at any given time" should be sending out their resume.
HUD -- Maybe its just me, but the updates in the lower left are damn near unreadable. Font issue on an SDTV, I'm sure. I can't test it on my dad's 52" plasma because he doesn't have Internet. Voc for the win!
Chapter Last -- What I Don't Like ("more in a moment"s)
When you shoot someone, they visually look like they have an OS. I couldn't notice a difference between an OS'd VIP and someone just getting lit up.
No amount of "you'll get used to it" will ever convince me that team chat on d-pad is a good thing. I keep hitting LB. I could adapt to the X-button, but the d-pad is a poor, poor, poor design choice. I use equipment maybe twice a game. Please see above, and please quit telling me it's not a bad thing. It is. You can't move when you team chat.
Grenades -- Up grenade count to 3 for each, please. Right now, we have 6 total, less than in either previous Halo. And if the frags are congruent to the Brute Grenades, then they've been weakened. The Plasma grenade sound is sweet. The explosion isn't very satisfying, though. Plasmas used to have a massive explosion. Now it's like they kind of collapse in on themselves before popping... Weird. And there's way too damn many frags on the maps at starting area. Bungie, you just gave us our max frags at spawn. Why put things there we can't pick up?
I wonder if Jeremy would consider this or something like it for article material. Writing this has really helped me pass the time at work today. I'd like to be able to do this on a regular basis.
EDIT: Sorry, my controls area looked fine in notepad...
Edited by JCTucker, 17 May 2007 - 11:39 PM.