Halo: Reach’s second map pack, the Defiant Map Pack, is going to be released in just two days. Lucky for us, we’ve got our hands on them early and had a nice run through of the two multiplayer maps, Condemned and Highlands, and the new Firefight map Unearthed. With the new maps, Halo’s matchmaking will now have 18 maps and Firefight will have 9 maps. There is no reason to be bored while playing Halo: Reach.
The two multiplayer maps are completely different from one another. One is more of a close quarters area with winding corridors, while the other is more open and is peppered with lush foliage. Both are very fun to play on and gamers will love them.
Condemned takes place on an orbital space station that hovers above planet Reach. As soon as you load into the map, the high-tech locale lets you know that you’re under attack from the Covenant. In the background, ominous explosions from the constant space battles that happen outside of the playfield. It’s really easy to get distracted and watch Banshees and Space Ships engage in intense firefights.
That’s one thing both Condemned and Highlands have in common, the backdrops are exciting and are more than your typical mountain top view. Particularly on Condemned, you get a view of Reach and you can tell that the planet is already lost. Half of the surface is covered in fire and is an eye popping sight. The interior of Condemned is riddled with explosions, broken technology, and Covenant blood.
There are several areas of the map that will contain a lot of the combat. Generator rooms, repair bays and especially the maps “Center Core” which is a low gravity room with a rocket launcher in the center. The map is primarily close quarters but also has some long range elements such as hallways and elongated corridors that snipers will spend a lot of time around. Condemned is a great action packed map and will be a favorite to a lot of gamers.
The next map Highlands is located in a top secret military base on planet Reach. It’s calmer and more peaceful then Condemned, but Covenant ships are closing in on the map. The background activity again is something to be admired. Watching the ships grow closer to the preserve you’re fighting on while they obliterate everything in their path.
Highlands has a main red and blue base that’s indicated by the colored flags. Both bases are symmetrical but what’s to either side of each base is the difference. To the left of the blue base, you’ll run into a smaller, elevated, multileveled bunker that provides a great over look at the center of the map. There’s a gorgeous industrialized waterfall, flowing river and a passage that leads under the waterfall.
Take the path straight ahead of the blue base you’re provided with a couple different options. There’s a green lit tunnel that takes you above near the waterfall and the passage underneath the waterfall that you can see from the elevated bunker. They both lead to the same communications bunker but it provides some welcomed alternative paths. You could also run straight through the center of the map, which doesn’t seem like the brightest idea, but there is enough cover to shield yourself from sniper fire.
The bunker then leads to a cave which is directly connected to the red base. Highlands is the larger of the two maps and definitely will contain the most people. It’s got nice elevation, several places to take cover behind, and will also provide some nice pathways for a quick getaway on a mongoose. If you’re a fan of Big Team Battle, then you’ll love Highlands.
The final piece of the Defiant Map pack is the latest edition to Firefight, Unearthed. Players will have to fend off wave after wave of Covenant in this abandoned titanium mine. Unearthed is a combination of open desert and close quarter combat. If you stay within the confines of the mine, you can hold off forces fairly simply. Run out into the desert and you’re open to all sorts of pain.
To aide in the Covenant onslaught, you’re also provided a rocket mounted Warthog that you can drive through the map in a racetrack fashion. The Warthog can definitely help get you out of some tight spots through sheer power. The best part about this level, is how bright the level is. A majority of the Firefight maps are darker and take place in doors. This map takes place primarily outside and it’s a bright sunny day. A welcome change to the selection of levels and my personal favorite.
The Defiant Map pack will cost you 800 Microsoft Points and will be available March 15th.