Published on December 4th, 2010 | by Ben Gray


Review: Noble Map Pack (Halo Reach)

Release Date: 30th November 2010 Genre(s): First Person Shooter Publisher(s): Microsoft Game Studios Developer: Bungie Rating: Mature


Halo Reach’s launch was undoubtedly one of the biggest console exclusive launches of the decade, but in the following months after its release has suffered slightly from the wave of retail releases such as Black Ops, taking away some of its fanbase. Less than three months after its release, the Noble Map Pack hits Xbox Live, adding in three new maps to the mix. Will this be enough however to bring players back to Reach? So, here we have three new maps to check out; Anchor 9, Breakpoint and Tempest. Now the first thing to say about all three maps is that they have some fantastic settings and backdrops. Anchor 9 has a battlefield of space carriers and Sabres flying about in the far distance, with the planet looming below. Breakpoint has stunning ONI structures, a highlight being the complex pipes leading up one of the bases, with a hint of plasma blue glow. Tempest has massive towers with spiralling clouds looming in the distance; this map being set on one of the Halo rings, so you can see the terrain in the distance slowly curving up, which is magnificent. Although they have beautiful aesthetic features, not many players are going to care about a small flying aircraft in the unreachable distance when they’ve got a Spartan equipped with a Shotgun coming round the corner any second. So, let’s get down to the stuff that counts. When you first set armoured feet on Anchor 9, fans of Halo 3 will instantly establish that it has a layout reminiscent of The Pit. What sets this battlefield out in particular is that there is an outside area to the docks that allows you to drift into space, with little to no gravity pulling you down, allowing for some massive jumps to get from platform to platform. Annoyingly, you can only go so far – which is not far at all – before you get the friendly “GET THE HELL BACK INTO THE BATTLEFIELD OR YOU WILL DIE IN TEN SECONDS” message pop up. Why this may not be much of a problem at all in Matchmaking, as there is much incentive to travel further afield, this is frustrating in Forge mode, where you can’t exactly use this unlikely terrain to your advantage when creating maps. The turrets on this map caused me some problems and seemed to dominate slayer matches especially. But, offering a play area where you aren’t too far from your objective but still not spawning with spitting distance of opponents makes it a nice change of pace from the maps that came on disc with Reach. The Forge palette is another problem that will ponder on map creator’s minds; although there are more objects such as walls than usually on offer in standard, on disc maps, it is still not enough to create unique, interesting maps on, and is a shame with a zero-G area on offer.

Breakpoint is the largest of three maps on offer, and is specifically built for Invasion, but does also play well on variants such as Big Team Slayer. The layout of the map is similar to Avalanche (Halo 3) but doesn’t play like it at all, as there are twice as many routes through the map for both vehicles and infantry, and what seems like a massive play space soon becomes smaller than you think, with pathways at the bottom, top and everywhere in between. Some aspects of this map irritate me, such as the Focus Beam spawn. I’m not a big fan of the Focus Beam at all, but on Breakpoint the weapon spawns right on the central cliff, making it a paradise for campers and a living hell for anyone that’s not in a vehicle. Speaking of that, on this map especially, if you are not in a vehicle or don’t have a powerful weapon to counter them, you will most likely find the majority of your matches running around like a headless chicken whilst a Banshee, Ghost, Wraith, or whatever vehicle it may be, chases you down. The small cave routes throughout the centre of the canyon counter this, but don’t make you invulnerable to vehicular domination. Forge is disappointing once again for a map of this magnitude that could have hosted some magnificent creations from the community.

The last of the maps is Tempest. Tempest is fantastic, the map is just the right size to make vehicular and foot based combat balanced, and hosts some interesting geometry, such as a crashed Longsword by the beach to large caves at either side of the map, making a nice loop for anyone looking to race around in a Mongoose. Newly designed Man Cannons exclusive to this map launch you straight into the action right from the start of the match, and this map is especially fun on objective gametypes; I recommend Territories for a fun blast of action that keeps you on your feet throughout the match. The pulsing beam that is shot high above the map soon becomes a threat to the Banshee; as flying through it EMPs your vehicle, and from that height is bound to cause serious issues. Forge map makers can rejoice; this map has a palette equivalent to Forge World, however some of the map boundaries do limit you to where you can build, which is a shame, but there’s always something negative to counteract the positive. So, what’s my final verdict on the Noble Map Pack? The maps are slightly better than those already in the game, but it is recommended from me that you only buy this if you are a hardcore fan to Reach who is an avid player of Matchmaking. Map makers looking for new canvases to Forge on will be disappointed with the exception of Tempest, but even that has its restrictions. For me, the map pack is a treat for Halo fans, but not enough to bring players back to the game.

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  • This DLC brought me back to Halo Reach, and I’ve got to admit, I’ve been playing it non-stop since it was released. It’s worth 800 points for sure. Although Invasion on Breakpoint is voted for too often.

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