Halo 3 beta detailed...sort of

Bungie posts FAQ regarding test of anticipated game, but still doesn't unveil date; Microsoft head reveals to MTV that beta will be a "robust experience."

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One of the spring's most anticipated games isn't even a retail release. The multiplayer beta test for Bungie Studios' Halo 3 is expected to be getting underway within the next few months, and the first two phases of entry have closed.

Maybe in the beta. Maybe not.
Maybe in the beta. Maybe not.

In preparation for the test that every gamer wants to take, Bungie has released a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide for the beta on its Web site. While not everything is out of the bag just yet, the FAQ does give gamers an idea of what to expect.

Unlike some beta tests, the Halo 3 MP beta won't come in waves. Everyone who is invited to the beta will be able to play at the same time. The party system popularized in Halo 2 will be included in the beta for those that want to play the game with a group of friends.

Bungie says that there will be a few surprises for even the most hardcore Halo fan. In addition to getting their hands on some of the game's new weapons, like the Spartan Laser, the mysterious function of the X button will be revealed.

Other small details about the beta were divulged by Phil Spencer, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios, in an interview with MTV.com's Stephen Totilo.

Lasers? Totally in the beta.
Lasers? Totally in the beta.

Of the beta, Spencer says, "It isn't really a tease. We're not looking at the beta as a way to string someone along in hopes that they might go out and buy Halo 3 when it finally comes out. We have a ton of confidence in that story and that game. We really look at it as a way...of testing the technology and making sure that some of our more far-reaching design goals are being met. So people should expect a pretty robust experience when they're playing."

"Don't call it a demo," he continues. "This is a beta. There might be some seams that are showing at certain points because it is a beta. But we think this is the best way to get ready for the Halo 3 launch." When asked if there will be more than one map in the test, Spencer says, "The experience will definitely be deep."

No date has been announced for the Halo 3 beta or the release of the full game. Gamers who haven't yet been invited into the beta can still get in by purchasing a copy from the first shipment of the Xbox 360 game Crackdown, which will include a Halo 3 beta key. For more information on Halo 3, read GameSpot's previous coverage.

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