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Well it is official; the Defiant Map Pack is the last hurrah for Bungie’s involvement in the Halo series. They officially have moved on to Activision and have fulfilled all of their contractual obligations of supporting Reach. That being said Bungie’s involvement in this map pack is minimal with the majority of the work being done by Certain Affinity under the supervision of 343 Studios, the internal Microsoft studio that will now steer the Halo franchise. The results are surprising and offer perhaps some of the best maps available thus far for the shooter.
The three maps Condemned, Highlands, and Unearthed are visually striking and immense allowing for fun and varied matches. Due to the scale of the maps players are limited to big team style Slayer and Objective based games. The big team aspect is absolutely crucial to the maps since they are so large in scope. Keep in mind that only Condemned and Highlands are available for traditional gametypes as Unearthed is specifically a Firefight map.
Condemned takes place in a crumbling space station that surrounds Reach. The Orbital Space Station Gamma is frozen in time as the Covenant make their approach on Reach. It’s heavy stuff; meanwhile inside the station Spartan scramble around stealing flags and beating each other with skulls. Real mature guys. All kidding aside, the view of massive ships in intergalactic dogfights right outside of the window is pretty awesome stuff. The map is really set apart with a center chamber that is weightless. A breach had occurred in the hull and the doors are sealed with force fields. Of course, you can jump around in a low gravity environment just like the top of Zealot before the patch.
Highlands is a huge training station for Spartans. The map contains four large buildings with a thoroughfare between them. The map is littered with vehicles from Warthogs to Ghosts, contains some premium sniper perches, and has plenty of corners and hiding spots for the camper in you. It goes without saying that there are also plenty of high damage weapons lying around such as the fuel rod cannon and the rocket launcher. How else are you going to take out a Warthog full of Elites? Highlands is big and beautiful, fitting perfectly into the world of Reach. Just try to watch out for the damn snipers; it’s like they hide in the walls.
Now I wouldn’t blame you if you were angry that this DLC featured a map exclusively for Firefight, but would it help to soften the blow if I told you it was the single best Firefight map on the game? That’s right; this map is so good I would put it on the same level as the Lost Platoon map from ODST. If you’re having trouble remembering which map that was, it was the map that everyone played. Seriously, every single person played this map, and this one is just as good. Now the map doesn’t differentiate itself in the same way that the other maps do. The map is very plain looking and the textures just don’t pop the same way they do on the other DLC maps. That being said, the map features a host of vehicles and a large battlefield. This makes it very difficult to become trapped in the corner by a lone suicide grunt like the other maps. It also features many diverse routes for traversing the various structures. Not only can you and your teammates really air it out on this map, there’s also a Rocket Warthog waiting for you to jump in and unless hell.
As far as Map Packs go, it really has the same downside as the majority of DLC of this nature. Basically you only get two maps to use, provided you do not play as much Firefight. The DLC just wears thin far too quickly. Nothing against the title, but 800 points can buy you 1 or 2 Xbox Live Arcade Games. Unless you’re still playing Reach regularly there is no need to go out and buy this DLC. However; if you find yourself forever embroiled in the battle to save Reach, you cannot go wrong with the DLC.