Halo: Reach released on September 14, 2010, and we loved that game, debatably even more so than any other Halo game to hit store shelves. That was over two months ago and now almost everyone has set aside Reach to play newer and shinier titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops and maybe even Assassin's Creed Brotherhood... but mostly Call of Duty: Black Ops. Luckily for Halo fans everywhere, Microsoft may have now created a reason to dust off that old and long forgotten copy of Reach with the brand new Noble Map Pack.
The Noble Map Pack became available on Xbox Live just yesterday for 800 MS Points ($10) and will likely sell extremely well, just like any of the other map packs in the series. But does the Noble Map Pack offer as much overall value and longevity as game add-ons for the previous Halo titles? No, not really, but that doesn't mean that there is no fun to be had with the latest DLC for one of Microsoft's biggest Xbox 360 titles.
The map pack simply contains three maps: Anchor 9, Tempest, and Breakpoint. Each map has its quirks and solid camping spots, and offers a wide variety of play styles. This is because of the wide difference in size between each map. Anchor 9 is the hangar of a massive space station, but even though the space station is massive, the level layout is quite petite. This makes it prime for close combat battles, so be ready to bust out the shotgun. Players can also go outside the space station which makes them float a lot longer when they jump -- gotta love zero gravity!
The medium size map has been given the title Tempest and is reminiscent of Hemorrhage. There are two bases on either side of the map and a good chunk of land in between them, but the landscape that surrounds and enters the battlefield is largely rock faces and ocean. There are quite a few camping spots in this map and I found myself being killed fairly often, but for the most part players will be able to see the jerk who's hiding in the weeds on top of a cliff, perpetually attempting to turn their heads into swiss cheese. There are also grav jumps located in front of each base that will be more than happy to launch players into enemy territory, so the fighting can get pretty frantic along the beach and middle of the map.
The final map -- easily one of the largest in Halo history -- is Breakpoint. The map is comprised of two large facilities located on either side of the map, and a large tunnel chiseled into a mountain that links the two together. There are other methods to get get to the opposing bases, such as walking around the giant mountain and crossing a bridge, but a lot of close combat action happens in the tunnels. The landscape is also littered with vehicles like Banshees, Ghosts, Wraiths, Warthogs, and the likes which makes for some frantic driving and precision aim to snipe the idiot on the Ghost going for a splatter spree. There are a few choice sniping areas, but even the best snipers are no match for a Banshee bomb.
Those are the three maps that the pack includes, but other than those and 10 new achievements, there is not much else included. At the very least, the developers could have added some new game modes to accompany the Noble Map Pack, but alas, they did not feel so inclined. Another thing that's kind of a bummer is that Bungie and Microsoft may have held back on packing these maps in with Reach in order to sell them for one sixth of the game's price at a later date. It's a business first and foremost, and everyone with an IQ above 20 understands that, but when the retail disc launched with the few maps that it did, it feels a little lame to spend $10 for only three more. It's not overly expensive and totals a little more than $3.33 a map, but you can't help feeling a little cinched.
All of that being said, any Halo fan is going to love these maps and they should pick them up right away (if they haven't already). Though players couldn't be blamed for wanting to wait for a map bundle or a sale on the add-on, in the end it's hard not to have fun with the Noble Map Pack. It adds some decent variety to the maps that everyone has become so accustomed to, along with some brand-spanking-new achievements, and brings a bit of freshness to Halo: Reach.
The Halo: Reach - Noble Map Pack is available now on Xbox Live for 800 MS Points.