Halo: Reach – Noble Map Pack (Xbox 360) Review
Title: Halo: Reach – Noble Map Pack
Publisher: Microsoft Games Studios
Rated: M for Mature
If you’ve already gotten bored with the original maps in Halo: Reach, Bungie is hoping to entice you back with the Noble Map Pack. The pack features three new maps: Anchor 9, Breakpoint and Tempest. However, can the new maps entice you to get away from Call of Duty: Black Ops?
The first new map, Anchor 9, is an orbital dockyard set in space. Because of that, one of my favorite elements is back: low gravity. On a small section of the map are some shield doors that let players go into space a bit to bounce around and attack from there. The outside area also houses a rocket launcher in the middle.
The map is good for any gametype, but, because of its small nature and symmetrical design, plays the best in slayer. For objective types, it can turn into a frantic battle of running between the middle from one side to the middle of the other. It has one side of the map split for weapons and the other for repair, yet they look the same and house the same pathways and tight corners.
There’s also a vantage point to get to with a jet pack on top of a docked ship. It’s a nice lookout area to see what’s going on, and a nice spot to get a few quick kills with the DMR before being spotted. Overall, though, most of the fighting will either take place outside, in the main hallways or sometimes around a tight corner fairly soon after a spawn.
Next, we have a level based loosely off the single player, Breakpoint. The biggest map out of the three, it has two bases separated by a jutting mountain, but has various paths through the mountain directly to the other side.
As you may guess, during objective games (what the map is best for) the fighting can get bottlenecked here. Thankfully, the map often spawns with a Hornet or Banshee for some aerial combat, and sometimes even throws a Wraith in there to use, which can open the fight up to both sides of the level.
Vehicle combat seems to be a bigger here, as Warthogs and Mongooses can be seen zipping around on bridges and causing havoc at bases. There is a sniper under a broken bridge and rocket launcher in the back of the map, though, to try and help even the odds if the other team has a majority of vehicles. Trying to get to these guns, though, often seems to create a bottleneck of constant dying, especially if the other team has the same idea.
One thing for snipers to note, though, is that a lot of good areas that look like they’d be vantage points are actually outside the level, so always watch out for the countdown. Still, this is a good map that, while fun in deathmatch, can really shine during objective games.
Finally we have Tempest, a two base map that looks right across from each other. In fact, with the Man Cannon and a jetpack, you can launch yourself to the other base in about five seconds. Each side has a turret, though, to stop that kind of quick scoring on objectives.
Besides the main bases, each has a short offshoot with another Man Cannon as well, along with a rocket launcher. Getting away from the middle of the level, there are also a few caves to go into as well to flank to the back of the bases.
Visually, this one has a few extra places to look at that are of interest. One side has a waterfall and goes back quite a bit more than the other. But, to make up for it, the other has a crashed ship that you can hide around or use as a landmark. Be sure to listen to the ship if you have time, though, for some commentary.
Probably the weakest map of the three, this map doesn’t have anything to offer to really wow, and smart teams can really rush the other base considering how little distance there is between the two. Still, it’s a fun map for deathmatch, and offered some good sniper matches in matchmaking.
Speaking of matchmaking, that’s the weakest point about the map pack right now. Currently, only one matchmaking mode supports the maps. After seeing how various other shooters integrate DLC maps, it would have been nice for Halo to follow suit. So, if you were looking for a specific type of game to play, you either have to set up custom games with friends, or pray that it’s on the list, pops up in the vote, and doesn’t get voted down.
Out of the three, I probably like Anchor 9 the most, solely because of the low gravity area for battles. All three of them are nice, though, but won’t draw you back in if you’re already playing other shooters. If you play a lot of custom or matchmaking games with friends, these are worth a look, otherwise wait until more matchmaking lists get integrated with them.