Microsoft held a major Halo 3 media event in Sydney, Australia, today, with some of the developers from Bungie Studios also making the trek to show Aussie journos the latest on the upcoming shooter. As well as featuring the single-player build demoed at this year's E3, the Bungie boys also decided to unveil some oft-rumoured elements in Halo 3, such as new vehicles and multiplayer maps--including the fabled Elephant, a gigantic mobile base big enough to take a Scorpion tank (plus a few other vehicles) for a ride.
Picture a moving two-storey building on tank treads and you've pretty much nailed the Elephant. This large chunk of green metal--which looks somewhat like an oversized version of World War II beach landing crafts--acts as a mobile base for UNSC Marines, and features two open bays at the front and the rear where the game's other vehicles can be docked. The vehicle's driver's cabin can be found at the front of the Elephant, and towers above floor level. In fact, Bungie developers at the event told GameSpot AU that the Elephant--which is only armed with a single machine gun turret--can become quite a formidable moving fortress when loaded with other vehicles that themselves have on-board weaponry. The Elephant is so large that it can easily hold a Scorpion Tank, and is actually used as a spawn point for a Mongoose in the Sand Trap level. Of course, such size obviously has its drawbacks--the Elephant is painfully slow. The Elephant only appears in the game's Sand Trap multiplayer map (there'll be one at each end of the map) and not at all in the single-player campaign, although a Bungie spokesperson said the giant vehicles could make an appearance in any future downloadable maps which may be released for Halo 3.
The other new vehicle showcased today was the Brute Chopper, a one-person vehicle which, as its name suggests, is ridden by the Covenant's beefy Brutes (although it can obviously be commandeered by other players). The Chopper--which is reminiscent of a motorcycle (albeit a large one)--features two huge cogs at its front to propel it forward, and an anti-grav booster at its rear to keep it above the ground. Just like when using the Banshee or the Ghost, pressing the left trigger when riding the Chopper will initiate a boost, perfect for avoiding fire or ramming into opponents.
Both these vehicles were showcased in the Sand Trap level, Halo 3's largest multiplayer map. As you can probably guess, the map is set in a desert environment, with several large structures included to use as sniper positions for eager players. The map is mainly meant for vehicular-based multiplayer, with each side of Sand Trap featuring a Chopper, several Warthogs, a Mongoose, and of course, the Elephant to drive. The vehicles are all set to respawn quickly to keep the action mobile, and there are plenty of wide corridors between structures and open spaces to exploit.
UPDATE: Bungie and Microsoft unveiled even more multiplayer goodness at their evening Halo 3 event in Sydney, wheeling out a playable version of Last Resort. Fans of Halo 2 will instantly recognise this new map, as it's essentially an updated version of the Zanzibar location from that game. Last resort features many of the same points as Zanzibar--a gigantic windmill-like structure, a beachside area, plus a sprawling fort-like complex. What's been added, however, are brand new runs and walkways around the edges of the base, making it a more secure place to defend depending on the match requirements.
Another level shown--but not playable--was Narrows, which is a large fort set across a high mountain ravine. The bridge across the ravine itself looked to be on two levels, with the bottom level featuring what seems to be a force-field bridge.
We'll have more for you on Halo 3 from the Australian media event--including pics of some of the new vehicles and maps. Check back soon for more.