'Halo 3' beta coming May 16

Are you ready? If not, maybe you'd better get ready to be ready.

That is, of course, if you're one of the millions of fans of the Halo franchise. Because on May 16, Microsoft's Bungie Studios will finally open up the Halo 3 multiplayer beta.

In order to participate in the beta--which will only cover the multiplayer aspects of the game--players need to have purchased a specially marked copy of the action game, Crackdown, or have won a spot through any one of a series of regional contests.

Those who do have a spot will be able to log into their Xbox Live Gold accounts, download the beta and play in it through June 6.

Microsoft will make three game maps available during the beta--Valhalla, High Ground and Snowbound. And the beta will task you with testing out several new features: a new type of grenade, a new and different class of weapon and new online functionality.

There will also be a host of hidden features available in the beta.

For Microsoft, Halo 3 is one of its brightest stars, and it is counting on the title to be a huge hit for the Xbox family. I guess we're finally going to get to see whether that is likely or not.

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