May 16. Halo 3 multiplayer beta.

Well, here it is. Microsoft and Bungie confirmed that on May 16 starting at 5 a.m. PDT, the multiplayer beta for “Halo 3″ will become available on Xbox Live. The beta’s going to run until June 6, cutting off at 11:59 p.m. So that’s about three weeks of poor eating, extremely long hours, cursing, headshots, and probably (in my case) the potential to really annoy my wife. I’m in there.

I’m one of the many who snagged a “specially marked” copy of Crackdown, which will grant me access to the beta when it goes online. Anyone who was lucky enough to secure an invitation via the “Rule of Three” promotion can also start counting down the days. I’ll admit this right now — I’m a below-average FPS player. But I’m thinking by the time I’m done milking the beta for all it’s worth, I’ll just be an average player. It’s all about the small steps and moral victories here.

When the game’s afoot, this is what we’re going to get: Three maps called Snowbound, High Ground and Valhalla, all of vary scales and detail. Apparently we’ll get a crack at the new Mongoose all-terrain vehicle, as well as a chance to shoot at each other with the improved assault rifle, Brute Spiker, Spartan Laser and Spike Grenades. Aw yeah. If you want to see more “Halo 3″ stuff, check out the Bungie Web site for a video documentary, also available in high-def over Live.

Three weeks of pain are coming. Sooner than I think.