Originally Published: March 21, 2011, on Original-Gamer.com

It’s always a big deal whenever a new map pack is released into the Halo universe, but the new Defiant Map Pack for Halo: Reach carries an extra bit of weight to it. Defiant marks the passing of a torch, as 343 Industries takes over Halo from Bungie. This is 343’s first major playable content for the franchise, made with the help of developer Certain Affinity.

With the slogan “Defy the Covenant” at its heart, you can download three new maps, Unearthed, Highlands, and Condemned now for 800 Microsoft points ($10). But except for the Halo hardcore, are three new maps worth the steep price?

MAP MAYHEM

Superb Level Layout – The biggest strong point for the Defiant Map Pack for Halo: Reach is the terrific layout and variety of the new maps. If you are a fan of Firefight, then you will love the multi-tiered desert base and scattered vehicles that Unearthed provides for you and three friends. If you are looking for a wide-open Slayer level with plenty of hiding spots, then Highlands might be a dream come true. My personal favorite was easily Condemned, which is set aboard a damaged Orbital Space Station. A circular map with clear landmarks at the compass points, Condemned also features a damaged zero gravity cross point in the middle that usually features a top tier weapon for whoever can fight to the top of the generator first. This can make for a lot of great matches from Oddball to your traditional Slayer.

Crisp Graphics – Each map is absolutely beautiful looking and has unique features, but they all fit in perfectly within Reach. Unearthed takes place in an abandoned base that provides an interesting dichotomy against the golden desert sand as grunts pour in from all angles. Highlands is the largest map in this new pack and also the most diverse looking. It features waterfalls, lush vegetation, dark caves, and this is all book-ended by a pair of marine bases with Covenant ships blasting away just over the horizon providing a previously unseen color palette all at once on your screen. And Condemned is the icing on the cake; the massive wall sized windows of the Orbital Space Station allow you beautiful looks into deep space and the planet Reach itself.

Vehicular Manslaughter – Compared to the other maps, Unearthed and Highlands provide some of the best opportunities for vehicular combat of any map due to there being plenty of vehicles and weapons to counteract those vehicles. In Highlands, Mongooses, Ghosts, and Warthogs are bountiful on one end of the map and used to cross the lush expanse to reach the other side. On that other side are laser cannons and missile launchers for the opposing team to use to counteract any blitzkrieg that their foes may try to unleash and is especially effective in Capture the Flag style matches. The Unearthed map features Rocket Warthogs and Ghosts. With no true corners for the Covenant to back you into, you can run rampant in the desert blasting away deep into Firefight mode with your buddies.

DEFY THE DLC

Unearthing a Flaw – One of the most interesting and risky aspects of this map pack is that the Unearthed map pack is exclusive to the Firefight mode. For a game where the majority of its online action deals in the versus elements instead of the cooperative, this was a huge risk and might turn off a lot Slayer and Invasion mode fans since this makes it seem more like two maps for $10 instead of three.

Steep Price to Pay – One of the biggest problems with DLC in general and not just this pack, is the over-inflated price you pay compared to the amount of content you receive. With three maps, one exclusive to Firefight, and only three achievements for 150 points, the Defiant Map Pack does not make me feel like I am getting the full bang for my buck. Ten dollars is a bit too much and will probably only be worth it to hardcore Halo: Reach players. Otherwise, I recommend waiting to see if it goes on sale or gets bundled with the Noble Map Pack.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to how long your Halo: Reach disc has been in your Xbox 360. If you haven’t played it since two weeks after the launch date, then you may not have even realized a new map pack was released. If Halo: Reach is your go to online multiplayer shooter right now and you’ve racked up enough credits where you could buy and sell every noob out there, then you will be very satisfied with these new maps even with its steeper than necessary price.

-Ray Carsillo

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