Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack ReviewCain Dornan
There is simply no denying that Halo 2 experienced extraordinary sales success. The release of the title on the 11th of September last year brought many hardcore gamers bustling lives to a complete standstill, as one of the most anticipated titles of all time finally made its way to retail shelves. And to many gamers surprise, the game easily lived up to the high expectations that had been laid out by fans from around the world.
I must admit; I am not a huge fan of Halo 2. While I have enjoyed countless hours of enjoyable thrilling multiplayer mayhem, I found the single player experience to fall considerably short of what I expected. Nevertheless, the superb multiplayer mode easily made up for the lacking single player experience, with the only complaint being the complete absence of AI-controlled bots. The multiplayer level designs were superb; game modes truly addictive, and the weapons simply a creative marvel. With the highly praised multiplayer mode, it comes as no surprised that Bungie has an expansion for the multiplayer mode that we all love.
It is important to note that Halo 2: Multiplayer Map Pack is simply an add-on to Halo 2, which was released last year. Therefore, the original copy of Halo 2 is required to make any usefulness of this expansion. As it is an expansion, the disc is only required for a short period of time, as all is involved from the disc is the installing of the required Halo 2 updated and the nine new maps to your Xbox hard drive.
The main attraction for the Halo 2: Multiplayer Map Pack is the nine additional multiplayer maps that were not packaged with the original copy of Halo 2. While some of these levels are available for download via Xbox Live, those of us without the privilege of Microsofts online feature will now have access to levels that many online players have been enjoying for a short while now.
The first of the nine maps on the disc is Containment. This stage is simply huge, so large that it is the largest multiplayer map currently available. The level was inspired by the Quarantine that was created by the Sentinels in an attempt to prevent the advancement of the horrifying Flood. This huge level took three months of development time to create, with the attention to detail and the sheer size of this level clearly showing the time spent on creating this impressive level.
Backwash is a mysterious level, encased with swirling fog that limits the distance of visibility. The stage is reasonably small, with a somewhat interesting maze of a structure in the center. While game types like Capture The Flag may not be suitable for such a stage, it will work nicely with Slayer or Oddball.
Terminal is a suburban level that involves a fast-traveling rail train that brings death to those foolish enough to battle amongst the rails. The stage has been designed to work nicely with team-based modes, such as Capture The Flag. The stage consists of two unique bases at either end of the map, with both bases being completely different from each other. One base, for example, offers a warthog in a garage-like area that allows for a somewhat easy defense of the base. At the opposite end of the stage, the area becomes considerably more open, with a smaller base that can prove to be somewhat tricky for defensives against vehicles.
Elongation is essentially a remake of the original Halo stage Longest. The stage has been completely remade, offering a redesigned base at either end of the level, two conveyor belts that run parallel to each other and a number of boxes that can be utilized for numerous strategic reasons. Two levels, low and high level, adds further strategic elements to the once simple map. The map is perfect for an intense Slayer competition.
Relic is essentially a sandy island with a large, opened-roof structure in the center. An assortment of small cliffs encases some sections of the island, and a hovering object that works as an effective sniping position.
Gemini is a stage inspired by the later levels of Halo 2s campaign mode. The stage is reasonably small, which makes it a good selection for modes such as Slayer, Oddball or King of the Hill.
Sanctuary is a level that has been inspired directly from a specific area of Delta Halo. The level consists of a somewhat dark world, complete with two separate bases and a central structure built perfectly for intense battles.
The final of the nine stages, Turf, is a suburban map inspired by the stage where the Covenant invades earth. The stage offers incredible detail, with numerous off-cuts that makes it a solid all-round level, great for a bit of Slayer or Capture the Flag.
In addition to the new maps, Halo 2: Multiplayer Map Pack also contains a small number of other goodies for Halo enthusiasts. Two videos are on offer, which includes an interesting short film of the adventures of the ODST team in Old Mombasa, titled Another Day at the Beach. There is also an interesting behind-the-scenes interview with Bungie on the development of the Multiplayer Map Pack and the world of Halo. While both videos only go for a relatively short while, they are worthwhile viewing for any Halo fan.
The disc also contains a somewhat humorous short clip that interestingly tests your audio system. The original Halo 2 announcement trailer, which was shown in New York in August 2002, is also available for viewing, including the very first public viewing of the original Halo title back at E3 2000.
All of the maps maintain the impressive graphical features that were found in each of the original Halo 2 multiplayer levels. One could even suggest that developer Bungie has bumped up the detail with each of the individual new maps, as Turf and Backwash look particularly impressive.
Fans of the multiplayer aspects of Halo 2 will find plenty to like about Bungies expansion pack for the highly praised mode. The new maps have been designed brilliantly, offering a completely new and refreshed experience for a title that was released almost a year ago. Naturally, if you have little interest in the multiplayer aspects of Halo 2, youll be hard pressed to find anything worthwhile out of the title, however, if you are the complete opposite, its likely that youll find renewed interest in the classic multiplayer mode.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.