Halo 3 Beta Graphics Tour

We took a quick tour of the Halo 3 Beta maps to see how the graphics have evolved from Halo 2 to Halo 3.

The Halo 3 beta isn't an official game release, but it might as well be since Halo 3 is the most anticipated Xbox 360 game coming out this year. Those lucky enough to participate in the beta will get an early look at the game's new graphics and get hands-on experience with several new or updated weapons and vehicles. The beta will run for three weeks, from May 16 through June 6, 2007. Microsoft had a "Rule of Three" promotion for beta invitations back in February, but those 13,333 invites are long gone. The only way for the general public to get into the beta now will be to buy a specially marked copy of Crackdown that includes a Halo 3 invitation. You'll need an Xbox 360 HDD and an Xbox Live gold account to download and play the beta online.

Bungie has stressed that the beta is only an early preview of the game, which means that the development team is still working on the graphics and gameplay elements. That didn't stop us from taking a few screenshots to see how the current graphics compare to Halo 2, but please keep in mind that these shots of the beta do not reflect the final game.

The default images are Halo 2 unless otherwise stated. Mouse over each image to see the Halo 3 comparison or alternate view shot. We maintained a widescreen aspect ratio for the cropped Halo 2 shots, but we had to revert to the 4:3 aspect ratio for our full-screen Halo 2 images because running the game at 720p on the Xbox 360 only produced a stretched out image.

Halo 3 Beta Vehicle and Spartan Models

Moving Halo from the Xbox to the Xbox 360 gave the developers access to more graphics power and a higher display resolution to target. Bungie has increased texture sizes and added shaders to keep the Warthog and Ghost looking good on the 360. The Warthog maintains the same familiar shape in Halo 3, but it has much finer detailing, great lighting, and uses what appears to be normal mapping or a similar 3D mapping technique to add depth effects--in the side panel grooves, for example. The shadows cast by the Warthog are also more realistic compared to the tacked-on shadows in Halo 2. The Ghost has taken on real-time reflections and it appears that the Covenant has discovered the wonders of low-cost blue LEDs. We've also included two Halo 3 shots of the new Mongoose vehicle since it doesn't appear in Halo 2.

The visors on the Spartan model also reflect the surrounding environment, but we couldn't see our own character models reflected in the visors of our enemies during face-to-face melee combat. We noticed that the left and right sides of the Halo 3 heads-up display are distorted to mimic the in-helmet view. The HUD returns to normal when the camera switches to a 3rd-person viewpoint.

What do you think of the Halo 3 multiplayer beta?

Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta Weapons

Many of the weapons from the last two Halo chapters turn up again in Halo 3. Bungie hasn't yet finalized what weapons will be in the game, but all the ones that appear in the beta have received a graphics makeover. Older weapons such as the needler and the battle rifle sport high-resolution textures and better lighting. It looks like Bungie increased the polygon counts to help round out the sharp angles on the needler, and the bolt on the battle rifle jumps out now that it has better texturing and the right shine. (Note: We flipped and rotated the Halo 3 battle rifle image to better match the battle rifle position in the Halo 2 image.)

The beta includes a couple of new weapons, including the Spartan laser and the missile pod. We've included a couple shots of the new Spartan laser.

What do you think of the Halo 3 multiplayer beta?

Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta Environments

The Halo 3 beta only includes three maps, but they all offer huge graphical upgrades over the maps in Halo 2. The Valhalla alpine-gorge-like map uses high-resolution granite textures, new plant life, new water effects, and excellent landscape design to create a breathtaking view. Bungie has also given caves and even building interiors a dramatic upgrade. Snowbound's icy tunnels have replaced harsh angles and bland wall textures with more believable curves and subtle surfaces. We got ourselves killed several times while examining the new water effects in Valhalla and High Ground. On the bright side, we've confirmed that your corpse will in fact float on top of the water for a few seconds before sinking to the floor.

The comparison screenshots have shown us that Halo 3 on the Xbox 360 has the graphics to be a worthy successor to Halo 2. We can't wait to see how the game looks when it ships on September 25, 2007.

What do you think of the Halo 3 multiplayer beta?

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2048 comments
peeweeshift
peeweeshift

ah man i miss the beta. the spartan models looked a lot brighter there and the people who were playing it were just trying to have fun instead of being all serious about winning like it is now. ah well. btw there is no reflections in the visor for master chief. The first e3 trailer overshot what they thought they could do with the 360. It was a resource hog so they took it out

x505
x505

...some of the worst comparison shots yet.

gokazz
gokazz

i dont for the graphics,i care about the game play and on what i could played on

Viren84
Viren84

oh how nice.. now we know even better what were going to mis on the original xbox... (still silently hoping a downgraded version of the single player is comming to the origninal xbox)

Mextex
Mextex

Great game but you don't have the pc version and will there be a pc version?

ck02623
ck02623

Ya know, i own this game, but I'm gonna have to say it's not all that much better-looking than two

hassam7
hassam7

I think its a load of crap! Just kidd'n its okay I guess never tried coz I don't own a 360!

ML21321
ML21321

HALO UNIVERSE RAWKS!!!

xXSK_HOVAXx
xXSK_HOVAXx

LMAO So much for everybody judging what the game was gonna look like from the Beta.. Awe yes if you havent seen the enviroments in this game.. Its like watching a movie especially on 1080 P.. Now Back to H3

starmaker
starmaker

Why is everyone freaking out. Bungie said that the beta was running off of the Halo 2 engine. Did you really think they were going to show us everything up front. They have to save something to suprise us with. EVERY ONE CALM DOWN ITS GONNA ROCK!!

Halo2_fan391
Halo2_fan391

the beta doesnt look that much better but th final halo 3 will be godly, I seen this video of the halo 3 banshee it looks really detailed

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

The best-looking gun in the beta was the plasma rifle, the new glow made it look really cool.

Absolutezerr
Absolutezerr

What a pointless article. This isn't the final game. Ans as much as I love Halo, the graphics probably won't top Gears. They need to really work on the features of the human characters.

monkeyidol
monkeyidol

i played it non stop...it did take me a couple of days to get back on my feet, its got a different more crisp feel to it, the controls. the lighting, the weapons, the game setups, its really good, if the beta is this good i cant imagine wat the game is like...

Genic
Genic

i played the Beta as much as i could. i was in the midle of ma final project at college so i coulnt spend 24/7 on it but when i did play i loved it. i now that it was just the Beta and since then they have fixed alot off glitches and made it look amazing. man i cant waight for the full game to be realeased. You notice that everything is like 10 times better that halo 2 when your playing man i cant wait. .....Hail to the Chief.....

Thors_hammer
Thors_hammer

Yeah it looks the same as Halo 2. It might be easier to tell in game, but the models and textures have barely been improved by the looks of these screens. The ghost looks better, but everything else is too similar. I thought the first image was the 360 version for a sec and I didnt notice until I got to the ghost that I was backwards. I was hoping for a drastic improvement. This is dissapointing.

InnerHeaven_X
InnerHeaven_X

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Gappy102
Gappy102

Halo vets go ape sh*t if too much changes. It looks good. I want a mongoose.

HighLevelPlaya
HighLevelPlaya

After spending 5-10 hours with the beta a few months back, i noticed something: I'm sorry... but it just looks like Halo 2 at a higher resolution. I'm sure that will offend Halo/X bots, but i felt it needed to be said.

HpHyEd
HpHyEd

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

McRyan16
McRyan16

haha pretty sure the graohics are 10 out of 10 and the gameplay will be 10 out of 10

Greyfox-101
Greyfox-101

Last time around (halo2) they obviously concentrated more on graphics...this time it's gameplay over graphics which is a good thing

Luigipwns21
Luigipwns21

Its a look sleeker then halo 2 but is on a next gen console so thats the biggest reason why the graphics are better.

The_Tay-Man
The_Tay-Man

Big improvement. After playing the beta I haven't played Halo 2 since. They just don't compare. The gameplay seems to have gotten really fast paced and hectic. Which is cool I think. And all y'all noobs who say rah rah HD halo... WTF do you expect? What is killzone 2? Its just killzone graphics with HD textures and more polygons! You people dont realise that thats what every "next gen" game is (in terms of visuals) Just cleaner textures, better resolution and more polygons! So sit yo a** down.

hotflame56
hotflame56

halo 3 visuals ok nothin great but gameplay will be really good gameplay 10 out 10

xXrebel666Xx
xXrebel666Xx

can't even tell which one is "next gen" sometimes the first one looks better and other times the second one is better. Sure hope something big happens before they release this or its going to get a hiding from competition even though gamespot will still give it a 9 + regardless of how good it is.

JLytle92
JLytle92

The beta was amazing and you really have to think how much better the finished halo 3 will be (hence the word 'beta'). And theres also so many new features like the elephant, hornet, brute chopper, flare, regenerator, flamethrower, fire bomb, mauler, gravity hammer, oh my god there is so much more!! i can't even wait!!

Darkmagicm12
Darkmagicm12

These graphics are only on the beta months before the game is released the graphics will be much better by the time it comes out.

CrAzY213
CrAzY213

I don't know maybe my monitor sucks but all I saw was that halo 3 was a little shinier. Is that what everyone else saw? Can't they make this game look like Gears or something close to it because this is not even close to gears...

BenTorn
BenTorn

This graphics didn't improve by that much. Either halo 2 had outstanding graphics or the bungie team were too lazy to improve halo 3 graphics!

sepotyerp
sepotyerp

This game doesnt have much better graphics, but the gameplay wil make up for everything.

jimbob01000
jimbob01000

strahilovcharov is clearly mad -"graphics sucked bad" A. im still at high school and i have better grammer than him and B. HALO IS THE BEST ****ING THING EVER!!!!!!!! except fable ... but thats just coz i love rpgs - no offence to all you FPS fans

Zuul13
Zuul13

The beta was a blast, and I know the actual retail game will be much better. I am dying in aticipation.

graydogg
graydogg

the graphics r way better in halo 3 than in halo 2.

god13g
god13g

i think thay should work on the first Warthog it lost some texture

Mp5slipknot
Mp5slipknot

Well its certainly looking better than the early shots did.

strahilovcharov
strahilovcharov

halo3 will sell like mad ...cuz its "halo". i played the first 2 games and in fps terms they were poor because they attracted new fps fans(those who never got to play pc fps gems). gameplay is mediocre (except with smgs and swords) and graphics suck bad. overall both games didnt compare to nyhting on pc but they were a milestone of sorts on consoles...i guess it stuck with gamers till today..this could be a rlly **** game (nothing new :S) and it would still sell. great for x360 fans

zero1602
zero1602

i played the halo3 beta byu winning the contest on xbox live very excited about it i found the graphical accets where much an improvement and the gameplay also gave it an extra fun by having the buble sheild witch was very fun to use i also found it a fun challenge to use the sniple rifle how it was hader to shoot with and how it gave that 1 extra seconde of delay before shotting the other person witch gave u more of a need to get a HEADSHOT! lol but in conclusion the halo3 beta was very good may be fixing a little of the game types like territories witch didnt really impresses me but overal cant wait to get the final vesion of the game!!

tyba1982
tyba1982

Lets be honest here, Halo 3 doesn't have to be the best looking game when it comes out... it doesn't even have to bring anything new to the table in terms of game play. It simply has to be optimized for widescreen HDTVs and bring the Halo combat that so many have come to enjoy. I'm more of a PS kind of guy, I like RPGs and story driven action games, but Halo 3 is reason enough for me to get a 360. Halo 2 doesn't look so hot on my 40" Samsung LCD, LN-T4066f, and I'm eager to get the HD counterpart for some late night death matching!!!