IGN visits Bungie’s offices and leaves with a flood of new Halo 3 details.

Following the closure of the Halo 3 beta, Bungie opened its doors to IGN and has coughed up some astounding new game features, maps and vehicles.

Three new maps were revealed during IGN’s visit: Epitaph, Shrine and Last Resort. Epitaph, a gothic Forerunner structure in the shape of a temple, is designed for close-quarters combat, shoving Spartans into thin, dimly-lit corridors. Two man-cannons on opposite ends of the cathedral propel players across the map toward an energy sword hovering on a gravity lift in the arena’s center.

Last Resort is a re-imagining of the Halo 2 standby Zanzibar. Additions include a second fortress entrance for vehicles that is blocked by a cement wall which can be unlocked with its own control panel inside the structure. The walkways extending in the air have become more complex and are lined with broken guardrails.

Finally, Shrine is a barren desert peppered with aging Forerunner structures. The largest map to date, Shrine is the length of Valhalla, but four times its width. A variety of special effects (heatwaves, sand dust and shadows) make the visual upgrades from the previous game significantly more noticeable.

A new vehicle with Brute roots rolled onto the scene. The Brute Chopper is part Harley and another part Forerunner hovercraft, boosting across maps with a battering ram for a front wheel. Other arsenal capabilities include twin-mounted cannons that shoot ammunition resembling the Brute Spiker guns.

A new piece of equipment called the Jammer disrupts everyone’s radar upon deployment. Red dots of activity will sporadically appear and leave lingering effects for those in its vicinity when it detonates.

As part of Bungie’s increasingly customizable experience, they are introducing new armor permutations that players can choose from for their multiplayer avatar. Two new types have been revealed thus far: C.Q.B. (Close Quarters Battle) and E.V.A. (Extra-Vehicular Activity). Fans of the Halo book series will notice that the C.Q.B design is taken from the cover of the Ghosts of Onyx novel. Different models of helmets, shoulder plates and chest armor were displayed.

Filmed matches can be hosted on Bungie’s servers and shared with other players, with the potential for Bungie to offer popular matches online for public viewing. Screenshots can be captured and posted from these recordings as well. To view any players collection, a simple button command will be offered when highlighting their gamertag in a game lobby. Match preferences for each gamer will be saved by Bungie to match all competitors with a match setting that will be widely approved.

This new injection of Halo 3 headlines will keep those with pre-orders and the soon-to-be Xbox 360 owners salivating for the months to come.

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