I was sitting around the apartment this evening, trying to de-stress from a hard day at work, when one of my roommates happen to be on the Xbox looking at Halo: Reach videos. I sat down to watch as well, when I noticed they said the beta was May 3rd....wait a minute....today is May 3rd!! And I have ODST, which means...download time! First of all, I'd recommend anyone who has access to the beta watch the "Welcome to the Beta!" video on Xbox Live. Very hilarious, and quite informative on what to expect in the beta, so you can manage to hit the ground running and avoid some of that "new-game" disorientation.
I'll waste no time here - this game is amazing. It has definitely got that "Halo feel" to it, without feeling like the exact same game all over again - a feeling I had with ODST as well, but in a different aspect. I described it to another person as "Halo on steroids". Imagine traditional Halo multiplayer, but with ODST graphics, and JETPACKS! See, you have "armor abilities" that you can change every time you respawn (only 1 at a time). One allows you to sprint, one is an active cloak, one is an invincibility that you can charge up, and the last one is the jet pack. In my experience, most people choose the jetpack.
Simply put, I feel like this is what Halo 3 should have been like. One of the biggest complaints of Halo 3 was that the multiplayer was almost the same as Halo 2, only with different weapons/maps. This game is almost a completely new experience, different modes, weapons, tactics, abilities, etc. And Bungie has taken many of the complaints from previous Halo games and refined them. For instance, gone is the old matchmaking veto system. Instead, the game presents you with three options, and the players vote on which game type to play. Its a pretty neat idea thats been applied very well.
Although I think the game is great, it does have its faults. At this point, I'm associating most of them with the fact the game is in beta. For instance, the game can take awhile to connect to the Reach servers to download the latest playlists. So if you stay in the same playlist you are good to go between games, but if you have to switch game types, it can be awhile.
All in all, the game is a ton of fun, and I can't wait to see how it improves over the next few weeks/months. And I'll definitely be picking up this game later this year when it actually comes out.