Halo Reach: Noble Map pack Review

Even though the Halo Reach popularity has had a slight drop off, the first map pack for Halo Reach has given the Halo community a shot in the arm well needed. Apologies for the late review I had planned on just giving impressions, but I found myself  loving them and sinking more time into these maps than I anticipated. I also wanted to play multiple sessions, with multiple game-types to really test the balance of game play for each map, so with out further adieu here’s the review.

I’ll start with the first map I played of the three which was Tempest.

This has to be the most gorgeous of them all, from lush trees perfectly spaced  throughout, detailed well shaded rocks in water falls, to a Huge Forerunner facility plasma beacon stretching up from the middle of the area. It was just my luck that the first game-type I was thrust into was Snipers Pro. If your as horrible as I am with the sniper rifle you could imagine my expression after just getting excited to play something visually new. I was pleasantly surprise to find that even though this is a fairly large map the “camp” factor wasn’t really an issue, because for every crevice or mountainous corridor there is an outlet or access point for each. On this map there was no perfect sniper spot; even the high points of the maps such as the protruding rocks or the facilities platforms had no absolute advantage due to the trees and landscape of the map. For every vantage point was an equally balanced vulnerable point. This quickly equated to me sprinting around the map bashing my way to victory catching  campers unawares.

I’ve played many other game-types on this map, like Team Slayer, CTF, and Big team. I guess the only thing I could nit-pick would be the fact that vehicles are almost rendered useless in the inner-most parts of the map due to the terrain. I never felt in these other game types one person or team had a clear cut upper-hand on this map though. Oh yeah quick warning to all you banshee pilots don’t fly to close to the plasma lasering its way across the map or your vehicle will be disabled much like a charged plasma pistol shot.

The next map, and my personal favorite is Anchor 9.

This is what sets the Halo world and its multi-player apart form many other shooters. The near zero g effect outside is amazing, especially if your strapped with a jet pack. From mid-air bashing ballistic battles, to sprinting long jumps onto other platforms its just pure fun to do. Also  if you have a nice pair of headphones or a decent surround sound system the quality of the sound effects in zero g are great. From muffled gun burst to the warped sounding screams of your foes is gratifying when you have it cranked. Despite its look this is a very fast paced small map, of course not designed for big team matches or game-types. In my opinion the most fun game-type to play on this map is Elite Slayer, the much quicker movements of the Elites causes to game to be incredibly frantic and twitchy, but once again still balanced. Inside the facility are basically two sides largely separated by somewhat of a middle ship hanger.

I mostly played 4v4  Team slayer, which is probably fitting for this map. They do have many safe guards to keep the map balanced; like I’ve noticed the spawn points are always in the corner of a room or directly behind a wall to keep from grenade spamming spawn points from happening. The outside area is protected by a translucent electrical wall so jet packers cant stay in zero g and shoot in and opponents inside can’t snipe from within. All-in-all a good map my only pet-peeve would be most matches every one (especially inexperienced players) run directly into the middle of the facility and constantly throw grenades which turns into a cluster bomb of explosions and quick deaths. I recommend playing with friends or at least people who will listen to you.

Last but not least we have Breakpoint.

This map will remind you of the underground laboratory of Dr. Halsey for those of you who have played the campaign. It is of course the largest of the three where the most optimal game-types to play are CTF, and Big Team Slayer. The huge snowy terrain connected by a large bridge area which in turn is circle connected by a large concrete hallway (just big enough to fit a wraith through) causes for a more tactical approach. Dependent upon the type of game, each team usually starts with a heavy, light, and Flying vehicle. Even with these the match will be a direct opposite of Anchor 9, mostly because its so large. You won’t die as often, but most times you’ll wonder where your getting shot from as there are many high points where people like to perch on both ends of the map.

A couple areas in particular are three tall snow-filled rocky ridges throughout the map one towards the back end of the enemies base, another on your team, and one about middle of the map. Your best Sniper or DMR man should hold these areas down with maybe one support. Just because the map is large don’t expect to get lost. When your running around or re-spawning there are landmarks placed throughout and as stated before all areas are connected. I hated my first couple of play troughs on this map not due to the map itself  but the new achievements. Everybody kept trying to get the Noble 1 achievement which consist of you killing an enemy at long range with the DMR, totally disregarding the objectives (this is how achievements can ruin the experience of gaming sometimes, but that’s an article for another time). There are 10 new achievements with the new update that come to a total of 250 Gamer score.

At the end of the day when grenades have exploded, headshots have been rendered,  and the last enemy shield is broken it never ceases to amaze me after 10 years Bungie has only gotten better at being consistent, more balanced, and still innovative when it comes to multi-player maps. If you have Halo Reach this merits your 800 Microsoft points ($10). Propers go out to everyone who played with me during this review and to @gamingblend on Twitter for providing me with a free code. These maps were so good I still purchased them and gave the code to my younger brother Quite Uniqu3 who is a devout Halo player and already at General grade 4. See you online.