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Halo 3

Platform(s): Xbox 360
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2007

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X360 Preview - 'Halo 3: Legendary Map Pack'

by Geson Hatchett on April 13, 2008 @ 3:06 p.m. PDT

Halo 3 lets gamers experience Master Chief's greatest battle as he launches an epic mission to stop the Covenant, destroy the impending Flood threat and ultimately save mankind.

Like Christmas … Only It Costs Money

It's almost that time again, folks. As big a game as Halo 3 is, its online community is even bigger in proportion. Huge communities, therefore, require new content to keep them busy after they've explored every corner, formulated every strategy and tactic, and wrung out every single last piece of fun they ever could from existing resources and materials. Bungie supplied the Heroic Map Pack around the time of the holidays, and now, the Legendary Pack is about to make itself known.

(What happens now that they've run out of difficulty levels to name these things after? Your guess is as good as mine.)

Forging Ahead

In keeping with the spirit of newness described above, the Forge has received upgrades to go along with these new stages. Not only do you get three new maps and placeable items customized to their environments, but the wizards at Bungie have added a little something to spice up playthroughs and playbacks: color filtering. Pick any one of these filters (Colorblind, Gloomy, Juicy, Nova, Old Timey, or Pen and Ink), and the screen becomes awash with different effects. Old Timey, for example, screens everything over with a sepia tone and adds film-style flickering. Nova makes everything super-bright, and so on. It's one step closer to making machinima accessible to the general, non-geeky public, but more than that, it's just cool.

Another Forge innovation heading your way is the introduction of stationary objects. In short, these are obstacles that can be placed, and rendered immovable once they have been placed. Walls, shields — you name it. This is great for cutting off routes on maps, or even creating new ones, and it's something the Halo community has been requesting for quite some time. Never let it be said that fans don't have clout.

At any rate, on to the maps! Only one is completely new; the other two are welcome re-imaginings of maps that the public has previously loved.

Blackout

First up is the return of an old favorite! Blackout is based on Lockout, one of the most beloved Halo 2 multiplayer maps. The reason for its accolades is due to the fact that it was originally meant to be a Halo 1 map, but was cut and allowed to gestate for a few years. Design changes were made over time, until yielding the polished product you saw back in Halo 2, and now here.

The map plays almost exactly the same as before, with the same strategies and weapon placements, except this time you've got a Regenerator near the Battle Rifle, a Bubble Shield near the sniper perch, and a Power Drainer on the helipad. While the layout of Blackout is nearly exactly the same as Lockout, the different environmental textures and some wider hallways will take a small amount of personal adjustment. Still, it's like coming home again. This journalist approves.

Ghost Town

In the jungles of Sierra 117, a water facility exists which used to collect and purify water from Mount Kilimanjaro. However, since its abandonment 50 years ago, and its subsequent erosion, it now purifies the blood of all who fight within its confines.

(Hey, I can write this dramatic stuff, too!)

The only "all-new" map in this pack, Ghost Town, is full of concrete, overgrowth, trees and wood. It's an asymmetrical map, where platforms, cover and high ground don't follow the "usual rules"; there's no pattern to be found, much of the high ground consists of narrow scaffolding, and the sniper rifle is located near a big tree and a location that really isn't all that good for sniping right off the bat.

It's a very complex map that will take a while to memorize, with multiple assault routes, making no base easy to defend in CTF by intentional design. If you're into sabotage and sneak attacks, then this is the map for you. Deathmatch folks, make sure you watch the skies, because as precarious as the high ground is, it rules this place. Gravity lifts are useful here.

Avalanche

Avalanche brings back an old Halo 1 favorite, Sidewinder — and before you ask, yes, it's still really freaking cold.

Much of the original layout is preserved, though just as much has been changed — some for balance, some for kicks. The easiest change to see is the placement of man-cannons in strategic spots for base entry and exit, and on specific spots amongst on-foot routes. Since folks traveling on foot have a disadvantage on such a huge map, the launch points were put in place to facilitate faster travel.

Still, just as in the original Sidewinder, it's all about the vehicles. Ghosts, Mongooses and Warthogs still rule the day, with the occasional Scorpion or Wraith (only on offensive for CTF) rolling around, dishing out the damage. Debuting here is also the multiplayer Hornet, which has only been given its machine gun because its missiles were just too imbalanced for multiplayer play.

Finally, a "ninja route" was added for foot players near the top of each base and mountain; those trying to nab a flag without a vehicle would do well to use this narrow strip of ground, and it gives defenders an extra something to watch out for. Due to the map's size, unless you've got at least 10 people around, deathmatch gets really old really quick, but this has always been one of the premier Capture the Flag maps, and we're glad to see its return.

Countdown

By the time you've read through all this, these maps will either be out, or be hours away from release. Just like the Heroic Pack (which is now free, by the way), these maps are worth the cash, and this time around, you get the added bonuses of nostalgia, and the rebalancing of already proven designs. Now that you've been informed, feel free to download these babies, and go get 'em.


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