It's been a few months since Halo: Reach received its last downloadable add-on and that came in the form of the Noble Map Pack. Finally, after over three months of waiting for more DLC, Reach enthusiasts can now rejoice because the new Halo: Reach — Defiant Map Pack is here.
The Defiant Map Pack adds something new for those who are always game to play some Halo: Reach, but if you're just a casual player who occasionally fires up the game then you may want to continue reading this review before you commit to the add-on's 800 Microsoft Point price tag.
The Defiant Map Pack adds three new maps to Reach that should help to freshen up the multiplayer experience. Both the "Highlands" and "Condemned" maps are for use in the game's expansive multiplayer battles, while the other map, "Unearthed," can only be played in the illustrious Firefight mode. The addition of new multiplayer maps is to be expected and appreciated, but one thing that has been heavily requested amongst the Halo: Reach community are some new Firefight maps. Defiant may not give those players exactly what they wanted, but one map is certainly better than none.
Condemned is a fun map that features both close-quarters and open areas. It takes place on the massive spaceship Orbital Station Gamma. Since the space station is in orbit around the planet Reach, there are certain areas in the space station where there is no gravity and as such, can make combat a lot more interesting. The only downfall to the gravity-less areas on the ship are that the forcefields that separate deep space from the innards of the ship can be shot through, so anyone who is floating around sans gravity quickly becomes a sitting duck.
Condemned also contains sniper rifles, which seemed a little odd. It didn't make much sense to me that the map would have snipers at first because the map didn't seem large, but those concerns quickly vanished — along with half of my face. The map contained some larger areas that make for some fun sniping opportunities. Campers however, will appear quite often as a result of these areas. Anyone who ventures into the zero gravity zone can quickly be dispatched by enemy snipers, which effectively makes the area a no-man's land. Overall, Condemned is fun and brings something new to the table when compared to other existing maps.
Highlands is the second standard multiplayer map and it's easily the biggest of the two. Based on the Military Wilderness Training Preserve from Halo lore, Highlands offers players a large battleground, vehicles, and plenty of cover from enemy sniper fire. Players will find numerous vehicles including Warthogs, Ghosts and Mongooses (Mongeese?) on each side of the map, because in all honesty a large map with no form of transportation would seem more like a walk-a-thon than a blockbuster FPS. There are some cool trails for the automobiles to rip down, and they are sure to peg at least one unsuspecting victim while they off-road.
Vehicles are kept in check by available rocket launchers and spartan lasers, so it's extremely unlikely that anyone will be scoring a splatter spree medal. Highlands also has two bases on each side where weapons, as well as cover from enemy fire, can be found. Big team battle seems to be the game mode of choice when it comes to this map, and it's legitimately a ton of fun. The map has so many obstacles obstructing everyone's view that it's hard to see where enemies are and aren't, but fortunately there are a few platforms where players can climb to get a good shot of the competition. Highlands could be considered one of the best multiplayer maps in the game, and I couldn't get enough of it.
The final map is Unearthed and it's the first of hopefully many upcoming Firefight maps. The map's location is at a Titanium factory that supplies the UNSC with a large amount of its raw material for building weapons, vehicles and more. The map in question is extremely large and creates a whole new experience that just can't be found in any of the previous Firefight maps. In a lot of the other Firefight maps it's always felt like you were playing with other people, but not working together. Somehow, Unearthed manages to make it feel like you're playing as a team and that can all be attributed to the way the map is set up.
The layout puts the big factory in the middle of the area, which leaves a ton of open land for vehicular combat. The Covenant will come from all directions, similar to all the other maps, but this time there is a heavy focus on their vehicles. Their ships will be dropping off plenty of Ghosts and Wraiths in the later waves, but there is also a Warthog with a rocket turret that the Spartans can hop into to dispose of the Covenant vehicles. While the the exterior of the base is great for vehicles, the inside is where teams will have to buckle down and get ready for sniping and close-quarter combat. I've never been a big fan of Firefight before, but this map changed my mind.
The new add-on isn't only a great deal of fun for Reach users, but it's also a sign that the Halo franchise is transitioning into good hands. Bungie was not involved with the actual development of these maps. Instead, Certain Affinity was hired to create them. If all future Halo games are created with this much care then the franchise is in safe hands. They've done an exceptional job with the Defiant Map Pack and anyone who enjoys playing Halo: Reach's online multiplayer is going to have a lot of fun. Casual users may not see the value in these maps however, so they may want to hold on to their points, but for everyone else the Halo: Reach - Defiant Map Pack is a must own.
The Halo: Reach — Defiant Map Pack is now available for download on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft Points ($10).