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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Bungie

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q2 2005

 

 

- Enhances the already great gameplay for one of the best console multiplayer games ever
- Nine new maps nearly double the multiplayer mayhem possibilities

 

 

- All maps will be available for free by the end of August
- "Bonus" material on disc really isnít much of a bonus

 

 

Review: Halo 2 (XB)

Review: Halo (XB)

Action Figure: Master Chief (Halo 2)

Action Figure: Covenant Grunt (Halo)

 

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Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack

Score: 9.3 / 10

 

halo 2 multiplayer pack review          halo 2 multiplayer pack review

 

Halo 2 is already the best game to ever come out on the Xbox, particularly when you take into account the amazingly addictive multiplayer Xbox Live action that, nearly a year after its release, is still one of Xbox Liveís most-played titles on a daily basis. Simply put, there are no console games on any system that can rival the online popularity of Halo 2. And whatís Microsoftís encore to the single biggest-selling title on its system? By giving Halo 2 gamers even more online goodness with the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack.

Nine new multiplayer maps are part of the pack, no matter if you play online or offline. But of course, itís online where youíll be totally enthralled with the new

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environments, which will give Halo 2 gamers who have memorized each and every facet and detail of the original 12 multiplayer maps a chance for some fresh, new maps to improve their worldwide rankings.

Only one catch with this release: the map pack costs $20US, which isnít bad at all until you realize that all the maps will be released over Xbox Live for free by the end of August. Already, four of the nine have

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been dispersed to the public at no cost courtesy of the fine folks at Mountain Dew through a deal with Microsoft thatís even sweeter than their delicious beverages. And they'll be picking up the tab for all gamers to have the maps for free.

So why would anybody want to actually purchase the map pack instead of waiting? Well, thereís supposed to be the incentive of bonus material, but the extra add-ons to the disc prove to be anything but a ďbonus.Ē All you get is a behind-the-scenes documentary about the new maps, a new Halo 2 movie, and the only part that actually qualifies somewhat as a bonus, a Halo 2 enhancement update for Xbox Live.

But again, thatís something that is readily available over Xbox Live now for free. So unless you are a Halo 2 gamer and donít have Xbox Live (not that likely, because if you own Halo 2, 99.99% of you have Xbox Live) and want an update for multiplayer gameplay on a single or system-linked non-Live Xbox, or simply are so addicted to Halo 2 that you must play theses maps as soon as possible, you might be better having a bit of patience and waiting for the free updates that are now just a few short weeks away.

The decision whether to buy or not to buy this disc falls into the same category as does the decision for many of us when buying online music: would you rather have an actual, physical disc that you can call your own, or download it and have it only exist on your Xboxís hard drive? Me, Iíd rather have the disc, but itís each individual Xbox ownerís choice.

 

halo 2 multiplayer pack review          halo 2 multiplayer pack review


As a whole, the maps are all really good, although some are better than others. Hereís a brief description of each (in alphabetical order):

Backwash: A foggy swamp is the setting for Backwash. Illuminating the dimly lit map is the neon glow of a few structures filling the medium-sized map. Best suited for Slayer games.

Containment: The largest new map, with two snow-capped, icy bases serving as fortification for teams. Bungie recommends using this huge new environment for Capture the Flag or Assault.

Elongation: As with many of the Halo 2 multiplayer maps, Elongation is an update of a Halo map, this one being an update of Longest. Particularly in appearance, Elongation has an almost Doom 3 feel to it. In fact, except for being much brighter without the shadows to hide and creep about in, Elongation could pass as a near replica of a Doom 3 map. CTF or Assault use is recommended.

Gemini: Another homage map, this one based on the old-school Bungie title Marathon and its Duality map. Not a big map on this hovering space refuge, but plenty of room for a good Slayer match.

Relic: This mapís like the reality television show Survivor, Halo-style: youíre on a small island, with a crashed Albatross Dropship strewn about the sandy landscape. A medium-sized map that serves CTF and Assault well.

Sanctuary: My second-favorite new addition, Sanctuary is set among the ruins of Delta Halo. With dangerously long tunnels and a spiral tower to get trapped in and gun turrets that pepper fleeing enemies, Sanctuary works well for not only CTF and Assault but rousing rounds of Team Slayer.

Terminal: Another large map that uses a high-speed futuristic New Mombasa train station (complete with a frequent visits from a high-speed train that will smash you into a million pieces if you get in its path) as its setting. Well-suited for large-scale Team Slayer matches.

Turf: My favorite of all the new maps, Turf borrows a lot of its inspiration from Ubisoftís Tom Clancy series of games, with the Halo 2 city streets of Old Mombasa bringing urban warfare to the Halo 2 masses. Using plenty of flanking and cover techniques goes a long way for success on Turf.

Warlock: By far the most claustrophobic of the new maps, youíll be constantly on the move and involved in fast-paced, intense close-quartered combat on this map. Most Warlock contests in Team Slayer donít last more than five minutes with frenzied killing constantly surrounding you.

If you had any doubts that Halo 2 is the ultimate Xbox Live title, this map pack will make you a true believer. If you can wait a few weeks, all these nine new maps can be yours for free. But if you like the physical nature of owning a disc and just need to get these new maps as soon as possible, go get the map pack, because you definitely wonít be disappointed (although the ďbonusĒ material is a rather lame and inconsequential waste of disc space).

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(August 10, 2005)

 

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