A lot of people have been e-mailing me inquiring about my thoughts on the beta, so I guess I'd better get on this finally.
In my opinion (let's just establish that obvious fact to limit possible hate mail), the Halo: Reach beta is a prime example of the whole being more than the sum of it's parts. Don't get me wrong, they put some pretty cool stuff in the game this time around, but some pretty lame stuff too (Armor Lock, anybody?). However, the end result is simply a fun game. A lot more fun than Halo 3 was.
I'll start with the weapons. The DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) is pimp. Not quite as lethal as Halo 3's Battle Rifle, but it really feels right using it, especially with the expanding reticules if you try and spam the fire button and the reduced auto aim. The DMR is deadly in the right hands and very satisfying when a kill is had with it. Same goes for the single-shot Needler (I don't know the names very well). I'm also very glad that the pistol is back, not too over-powered but strong enough to support yourself if your primary runs out and accurate enough to land a few headshots now and then. On the downside, I can't believe the fucking Energy Sword is still in (pissing everyone off with it's generous lunge distance since Halo 2 and it's still around), being spammed in the face with the Focus Rifle is pretty annoying (a combination of the old Covenant Sniper and the Sentinel Beam, as if anyone ever used the Sentinel Beam), and the one that shoots four homing explosive charges of plasma is cheap as shit.
The cheapness doesn't end there however, with the introduction of the Armor Lock armor ability, the new thing to spam if you're a total pussy. Too many times I get into gunfights with a player, who knows he's gonna lose, then pusses out with Armor Lock and holds it as long as he can until his teammates can bail him out of his predicament. I called one guy out on it and he told me "it was strategy". Fuck that shit. I mean, if there's no one else around, it's easy enough to wait for his Armor Lock to expire and then promptly ruin his shit, but it's very annoying to run into that on a constant basis. I can see how it would be cool to ward off Energy Swords, Rocket Launchers, and vehicles hurtling towards you, but still.
The rest of the Armor Abilites I don't really have a problem with -- in fact, I love the sprint ability. Straight out of Modern Warfare 2 obviously, but it works here and it's very nice to have to get into the action quickly from your spawn point, not to mention getting through a sketchy, dangerous area. The Gravity Hammer/Energy Sword and sprint combo pisses me off though. The jetpack's pretty cool but I don't use it personally, you're eased up and down very lightly by its thrust and it's not too hard for people to pick you off in mid-air. It's also nice to have the cloaking to switch to if you feel like playing slower and stealthier, but combined with the Energy Sword or the Shotgun it can be infuriating to deal with from other players. I hate campers, as you have no doubt noticed.
I've also noticed a big jump in the quality of music just listening to the score of the Bungie intro and the main menu theme, really nice stuff. And Bungie has some genius user interface designers, all the menus are sleek and very functional.
I like the credit system they've incorporated, and I feel they're earned at a pace that's just right. I just hope that there will be plenty of stuff to spend those credits on and we don't all end up buying everything and having a massive stockpile of unused credits.
Grenade spam has always been a present and annoying phenomenon in the Halo games, and it's still very much here. Way too many players treat their left triggers as their primary fire. Learn to aim your gun, you fucks. I thought Bungie might have done something to limit it this time around, but alas... it's just one of those things we've all gotta put up with I guess. I can understand how limiting players to one grenade per spawn would suck.
The controls are great this time around, with all the player's offensive actions mapped to the triggers and the bumpers. It's a bit hard to get used to at first, but it quickly becomes second nature.
I'm getting tired now, so I'll stop there. Like I said, the game has some pretty extreme annoyances, but enough cool stuff for the skilled players to keep it attractive. I like it, and I'm gonna buy it when it comes out.
On a side note, I'm still working on that secret project I mentioned earlier (very much a gift for the fans) and it will be unveiled pretty soon. Stay tuned!