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Halo: Reach

X360A Review: Halo: Reach's Noble Map Pack DLC

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To me, reviewing anything Halo – or Call of Duty for that matter – is almost a pointless state of affairs and chances are, before you’ve even read our final impressions, you’ll have already purchased the Noble Map Pack, are not interested or you’re waiting for a price drop. I get the feeling that whatever I say, I won’t budge you. If I give it a 10, you still won’t buy them... or you already have. If I give it a 1, you definitely still won’t buy them... or you already have. No refunds!

That’s not going to stop us from smacking you in the face with Master Chief hyperbole and over-the-top space fantasies involving man cannons and Huragoks though – that’s the Engineers to you and I. Actually, we’ll save that for our erotic Halo novel: Halo: Ring Service...

So the Noble Map Pack consists of 3 maps for the usual 800 Microsoft Points, giving you a different experience with each and every map and hopefully a new environment.

Anchor 9 is the smallest of the three maps, as you take on up to 8 players aboard a UNSC space station. Unlike your traditional Halo space stations though, Anchor 9 allows the player to head outside for some close-to-zero-G combat, before heading inside to die a lot and die quickly. What I mean is: the map’s small, the action is frenetic and quite often will you be sucked into the inevitable cycle of... die, spawn, run into a group of four fighting Spartans, kill a couple, die, and so on. It’s a decent enough map, but definitely the weakest of the three.

Tempest on the other hand is a beautifully crafted outdoor environment, set at the base of some rocky mountains amidst Forerunner technology and surrounded by sand, lush green flora and crystal clear waters. If I had to liken it to a Halo map of yesteryear, it really reminds me of a hugely condensed Valhalla, fresh with man cannons at opposing ends, detachable turrets in the middle and even the odd cave and Forerunner base to fight around. It’s a fairly large map in truth, holding up to 12 players and with the man cannons throwing everyone into the mix, the action tends to take place down the sandy centre of the map, amongst the protruding rocks.

Breakpoint is the third and final map, and easily the most fun. It’s the only map that isn’t asymmetrical – which is why you can play Invasion on it... although it never cropped up once during our time with the maps – and it has more vehicles lying around than Terry Tibbs has in his second-hand car lot. So whether you want to flash around in a Ghost, a Banshee, a Wraith, a Warthog or a Falcon, you can do, and it possibly offers one of the best vehicle battle playgrounds in Halo: Reach to date. It’s snowy; there’s structures galore that range from small outposts to huge sweeping tunnels; and its land formation offers vantage points, shortcuts through the caves and much more to keep things fresh. Breakpoint alone is almost worth the admission fee.

You can play the three new maps in a dedicated DLC playlist, so you won’t have to cross your fingers praying to get a game on the new maps. Therein lies a potential problem though, because with only one playlist for all the new maps, you can literally bounce from game mode to game mode, rather than sticking to what you like best. Still, with the size of the community, the voting system and this dedicated playlist, you hardly spend any time whatsoever searching for a game on the new maps.

The achievements are an odd bunch though. 50 points for killing someone with the DMR across the level, but only 42 for collecting all of the flags in a matchmade Stockpile game? Plus, what’s with the uneven points again? I’m not sure why they’ve done that, I mean, it’s not like Bungie has ever done that before. Everything else is rather simple in truth – except the Stockpile cheevo mentioned supra – but they may take a few attempts to get right. The achievements aren’t confined to the map pack playlist either, however, I blatantly got a double kill from beyond the grave earlier, yet didn’t get the achievement. What’s that all about? Regardless, it’s 250 more potential gamerscore for playing more Halo though, so you can’t really complain about that.

As a package – a Noble Map Package – Bungie has seemingly managed to create a handful of neat and ultimately fun maps with a little of everything. Anchor 9, with its claustrophobic corridors and short distance combat, is a far cry away from Tempest’s rocky hills and crystal clear waters, presenting much more freedom in the fight. If vehicles are your vice, then Breakpoint delivers some of the most intense vehicular combat present in any Halo: Reach map. That said, while the Noble Map Pack has a great assortment of maps, there’s nothing incredibly awe-inspiring by Bungie’s latest fare and it almost seems as if they’re running out of ideas. I suppose after 10 years of using the same sci-fi steeped universe, they’re always going to throw up their fair share of space stations, snowy caverns and lush green vistas with man cannons galore. Yes, they do sound rather familiar, right?



 
 

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Game Info
Developer:
Bungie Software
Genre:

Release:

US September 14, 2010
Europe September 14, 2010
Japan September 15, 2010

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