Beta Versus Beta: The real winner? Us gamers for getting betas.
*Editor's note: The winner in each round is not in bold, so scrollers will actually have to read everything to see the winner. I'm cruel like that. -Matt Swider
Halo 3 vs. Warhawk, Beta Vs. Beta, Mano a Mano.
The prizefight between these two powerful works-in-progress pits Sony's big online-only affair against Microsoft's multiplayer addiction. On the left part of the page, standing at 25 maps throughout 5 world, weighing in at 4 modes and wearing blue shorts is Warhawk. On the right part of the page, standing at only three maps and weighing in at seven modes, wearing green shorts, is the more experienced and current multiplayer world champion, Halo 3.
These two games may seem like apples and oranges because Halo 3 is a first-person sci-fi shooter and Warhawk is a third-person open warfare game like Battlefield. However, any gamer who was lucky enough to get into the Warhawk Public Beta AND
has an Xbox 360 with a copy of Crackdown can tell you that they were both fun and are very comparable sandbox war games. Before we begin, remember that we're judging the BETAs of these two system sellers based on their BETA performances.
Round 1: Time Attack
Round 2: The Beta Blues
|The Warhawk beta began on May 24 and stopped Monday. Invitations to this sought after pilot program were limited, but additional testers got in to the beta as time went on.||The Halo 3 beta began on May 16 and ran until June 10. Originally, it was supposed to end on June 6, but there were problems getting into the beta via Crackdown.|
|Winner: Even though the Halo 3 beta began earlier, was extended by 4 days and was open to everyone who owned Crackdown, it just couldn't compete with the 40 day window of the Warhawk beta.|
Round 3: Lobbying (Not the boring Congress kind)
|The PlayStation Store premiered the Warhawk beta on time in the afternoon. However, while the 776 MB file downloaded and installed without a hitch, glitches and system lock-ups plagued beta play for two weeks. A stability patch has released to our delight on June 8.||As mentioned, the Halo 3 beta was extended because of issues that involved accessing the game via Crackdown. The beta still made its June 10 deployment date, but at 10:30 PM and not the originally scheduled 5 a.m. wake up call.|
|Winner: The Halo 3 Beta wasn't accessible for several hours on its first day while the Warhawk beta flew as scheduled. But, the win isn't for Warhawk since its on-time departure doesn't make up for its two-weeks of turbulence.|
Round 4: Finally getting into it: The Graphics
| The main menu of Warhawk has a plain server-like design. Moving clouds and the fitting orchestral drumbeat of war do what they can to enhance the visual and audio elements, but only in the background. Regardless of the extremely basic presentation, the menu trades any excitement for efficiency, displaying server names, ping and whether or not a game allows splitscreen. It may not be artsy, but it's effective.|| The Halo 3 beta had an attractive menu system and god-like music to match. Looks aren't everything, though. The automatic matchmaking forced you into games that were ideal, except for the randomness of the maps. High Ground was the greatest map, but getting it 1 in 12 times was ridiculous. With people not using their ?veto? to reject maps, options were limited? or were they? With a little work, a much publicized beta glitch opened the door to all sorts of crazy customization, from the Halo 1 pistol to zero gravity.|
|Winner: Warhawk is the win?.err?oh no wait, Halo 3 steals this round.|
Round 5: The Sound of Silence
| Warhawk is big. And, not only are the dimensions of its four worlds large, but you can explore them by both land and air thanks to dynamic Battlefield on-foot and vehicle switching. While the environments aren't destructible, the next-gen character, building and vehicle models are smooth and the explosions are a sight to see.|| Side by side, the differences between Halo 2 and Halo 3 are obvious. Many people were expecting more from the series' next-generation jump, though. The naysayers should keep in mind that this is just a beta and to us even the beta looks next-gen enough. The environments are beautiful, the weapon effects are powerful and the curved helmet HUD is sexy.|
|Winner: This almost came to a no decision because both betas look incredible even in their unfinished states. However, Warhawk wins this round because it's bigger and slightly badder than Halo 3 IN BETA.|
Round 6: Extras
| Warhawk has that tremendous opening theme throughout its menus, but the orchestra music fades in and out of existence throughout all of the matches. Thankfully, there's hardly a shortage of explosions and gunfire to break the eerie moments of silence. Your surround sound speakers get great use here, so be sure to turn them up to be blown away from 5.1 directions.
|| Halo 3 sounded epic from the second it started up, but besides that godly aural menu music, the in-game soundtrack is non-existent. Not that we didn't expect this having played past Halo games. Furthermore, from that experience, we knew it wouldn't all be dead silence. As blood spills, assault rifles echo and grenades explode everywhere on the map.
|Winner: Like the graphics, the almost negligible audio differences between the betas almost results in a no decision. But, the slightly superior explosion sound effects and the occasional orchestra music in Warhawk win this round.|
Round 7: Players
| While you are never fully introduced to the two factions in the Warhawk beta, you can customize them in the game's menu and make up your own story (in your head). In addition to sliders for skin color, tops and pants, this beta burns Master Chief once with the ability to switch between different helmets and a second time with the custom Warhawk paintjob with hot rod-like flames.|| Customization of your Spartan has been enhanced in terms of colors and emblems with promise of more to come. The real extra that we're all excited about is the ability to save video replays. Save your best kills to show off, worst mistakes to learn from and funniest random incidents. This film saving feature has potential to be an endless amount of fun.|
|Winner: As much as we want to say ?That's Hot?(Paris Hilton reference #1)|
about Warhawk's flame-filled paintjobs, nothing can compare to the truly innovative Halo 3 video replays of glorious matches you want to remember or shameful ones you want to forget like a Paris Hilton sex tape.(reference #2)
Round 8: Weapons
| The Warhawk beta invites may have been limited, but that didn't mean you couldn't boast about the game in front of your envious, uninvited buds. Up to four players could take part in the game as long as your game host checked off the splitscreen option. || The Halo 3 beta supported more than one player on a single Xbox 360, which, if you're just finding this out now, means? you're too late to try it. While the final game will probably include four-player splitscreen, the beta only allowed two to join up.|
|Winner: This round is simple math. Warhawk wins with four local players in the online beta battle while Halo 3 is just an army of two to a console.|
Round 9: Vehicles
| Whether on foot or in the air, the Warhawk beta provided players with a variety of weapons accessible via the D-Pad. A lot were unimaginative: on foot guns included a typical pistol, sniper rifle, assault rifle, rocket launcher and flamethrower; Warhawk weapons included homing missiles, swarming missiles and lighting bolts. The real awe is in more rare pickups like binoculars that automatically call in air strikes while you're on foot and cruise missiles which transport you from behind the cockpit to a grey-scaled first-person missile view.|| From the always reliable assault rifle to the machine gun tripod (which is like a camera, only you don't mount it to shoot film), the Halo 3 beta guns were both fun guns and efficient. Likewise, there was a distinct trio of grenades: Frag, Plasma and the new Spike Grenade. Top that off with the power draining Power Drain (aptly named). Throw it near a Warthog that is occupied by two enemies and then toss a grenade into the stopped vehicle for a creative double kill. |
|Winner: Halo 3 beta owns this round with its not so normal weapon set. Not only are its guns more imaginative, but the beta brings three types of grenades compared to Warhawk's one. It should be noted, however, that the Warhawk beta covers all of the bases with a healthy (though, not always awe-inspiring) weapon lineup, so it's a close second place finish.|
Round 10: Game Types
| As the game's name and the new box art suggest, Warhawk is very much about flying a Warhawk. Soaring through the air in one feels fantastic, with spins and flips performed by the right analog stick. But, that's not all. Slow, but powerful tanks and speedy, but more prone 4X4s mix up the vehicle options to keep the battles fresh and interesting.|| The Halo 3 beta brings back the Warthog and Ghost and adds the all-new Mongoose. This transport vehicle is great for quickly carrying the flag back to your base. However, in order to balance out that speedy attribute, it lacks firepower. If it had a machine gun on the back, it would just be a faster Warthog, so we think that it works well into the vehicle trio.|
|Winner: Halo 3 needs more Mongoose to compete with this Sony game's cover athlete, a Warhawk. The addition of a transport vehicle in the beta is appreciated, but none of the three Halo vehicles (we know, there are supposed to be nine more to come) can compete with a Warhawk's flying and hovering capabilities. Thus, this three-on-three match up goes to the stronger Warhawk lineup. |
Round 11: Maps
| There were four game types in the Warhawk beta: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, CTF and Zones. While Deathmatch was a little too chaotic, the other three modes oozed with strategy-filled, open warfare fun. Without even knowing it, they would also make 1:00 PM become 1:00 AM, complete with our office's wall clock doing a time lapse with appropriate time-skipping background music.|| The Halo 3 beta contained seven main game types, each with a number of variants. Returning are Slayer, CTF, King of the Hill, Assault Oddball and Juggernaut while VIP and Territories are new. A zombie-filled Infection game type may be in the final version since its presence was found in the beta coding. But, it's unconfirmed as of right now, so the beta stands at seven modes.|
|Winner: Although Warhawk contains four fun game types, the Halo 3 beta nearly doubles that amount to easily claim victory in this round. |
Round 12: Communication
| The Warhawk beta featured 5 unique worlds that were further broken down into 25 map variations depending on the game type. There were bombed-out cities, tropical islands and a desert map like it was straight out of MotorStorm. No ice world, though. || The Halo 3 beta brought three maps to the table: High Ground, Vanhalla and Snowbound. The most popular was High Ground with its countless caveats in which you could hide above and below ground. Snowbound provided cold weather while Vanhalla did its part as a rectangular map. |
|Winner: There's no ice world in Warhawk, but its 5 different locations and 25 map variations gave us more terrain to trek through. The Halo 3 beta, on the other hand, had the ice world, but didn't boast enough maps to give us a better idea of what will be in the final game. The Warhawk beta wins this one by the numbers, snow level or not.|
Vs. Winner (and we do declare a winner):
| Killing or being killed triggers an in-game message in the simple, but effective format of ?GamerTag1 (sniper rifle symbol) GamerTag 2,? an example that tells you Gamer1 used a sniper rifle to kill Gamer2. While this works, it could've been a spot in which Incognito brought some humor to the game with wackier messages. The first Warhawk on PSOne was known for some bizarre, but entertaining ?game over? epilogs. As for the headset, it changed from an open mic to an L3 push-to-talk method. An option between the two methods is preferred, but we'll take the more desirable ?Who's Talking? HUD indicator before anything else.|| The Halo 3 beta not only has exciting messages like ?Killing Spree? and ?Double Kill,? but voices them with a dramatic announcer (not Don LaFontaine, that announcer guy from the movies [and now the Geico commercial], but close]. Hearing ?Killing Spree? makes you become fanatic because you think that everyone is out to get you to end your spree, and you're pretty much right. In-game text is always fun to read, like GamerTag1 smacked down GamerTag2 when you perform a fatal melee attack. Not fun for some is the fact that this beta didn't bring about open mic chat, so you still have to press the D-Pad to talk.|
|Winner: Halo 3 is definitely made more exciting by the announcer and the in-game status text. As for player-to-player communication, both games use the push-to-talk method of chat, which isn't always the simplest task when you're involved in a firefight. The issue between open mic and push-to-talk remains hotly debated and an option to toggle between the two (decided by the game host) would be best for everyone. Halo 3 stills wins out for its more creative messages that get you energized.|
The rounds may end in a tie, but Gaming Target isn't one of those lame sites that does a 2,000 word battle and then declares ?everyone's a winner!? Don't you hate those sites? We do too. So we'll actually crown a beta champion based on the importance of the round results. Warhawk was open to gamers longer, had more maps, larger worlds, better vehicles and allowed three friends to join via splitscreen. It also had great sound effects, which is fine, but we know that you won't be pre-ordering the game after hearing the beta. Halo 3 wasn't as buggy, which is important to any beta tester, and included better looking lobbies with a few secrets, which isn't as important. The video replays extra, better weapons and more game types do matter, while the communication win doesn't make as much of a difference. Because the Warhawk beta featured more than the Halo 3 beta, mainly in the way of maps, there was more time we wanted to commit with the beta, so ultimately Warhawk is the better beta. However, while Warhawk is the beta champ right now, we have a feeling that the final version Halo 3 can (and probably will) win the multiplayer addiction in the end because it'll have more maps, more vehicles, more local players, enhanced graphics, and, most importantly, unlimited time for us to play online.