Angry Robot

Tested: Halo 3's Legendary Map Pack

We came, we played, we slayed. Halo 3’s Legendary Map Pack dropped yesterday, and the Robot Crew gave them a test run. Here’s what we each thought about the new maps, Avalanche, Ghost Town and Blackout.

It’s also the subject of this week’s Robot Sounds, so if you’d like to absorb more or less the material you can read here in convenient audio form, go check it out.


D – I consider Lockout the best of the Halo 2 maps – it’s not my personal favourite, but it’s almost a perfect map from a more objective standpoint: it’s well balanced, small but not cramped, allows for different play styles and gametypes, and it’s got depth to it, mostly in the form of different jumps you can learn.

Beside the obvious visual overhaul, the main areas and paths of Lockout are largely unchanged in Blackout. But the details are different. Some spaces are slightly adjusted – the little lip underneath that was often used to hide with the oddball? That’s gone now. Also, there’s a modicum of cover down in the shotgun tunnel. A couple platforms underneath are closer together, making jumping easier. It’s a little harder to get cover on top of the BR tower. Most of the trick jumps have changed.

All told? If you loved Lockout, you’ll love this.

Nadine – Lockout was one of my fav maps of all time, up there with Headlong, Ascension, and Foundation. The ease of jumping, the dynamics of close combat with the added bonus of so many great long distance shooting points was brilliant. I loved Oddball, Slayer, and Crazy King on that map. Since this is almost an exact remake, save for a few adjustments to the lower levels for more distance shooting points, I was not disappointed. The odd thing for me was I thought they had actually overdone it visuals-wise. There was no need to add all the UNSC consoles and noisy, garish textures on the walls. I find them distracting and ugly, give me Forerunner tech any day, but even in High Ground the UNSC stuff isn’t that overwhelming.

Maybe it’s because it’s a weird kind of oil rig they had to mess with it so much, but I just find the noise unnecessary. I did love the backgrounds though, the added details of the sky and the coastal cliffs really gives you a better sense of “oh shit I could fall off on all sides into icy cold waters” whereas in Lockout I only felt that in certain areas. Now you really feel that isolation at every point on the map.

Toku – I never liked Lockout in the first place, but maybe that’s because I was never really good at it in the first place. I’ve been told that once I learn the jumps I’ll love it, but I don’t understand the point of a map that you can only play if you happen to know the little tricks that go along with it. To me, I find it too tight quartered and narrow for my own enjoyment. I don’t mind learning a map, but I think a design that requires you be able to play it blind just to be able to compete competently is…well…shitty.

The remake, Blackout, is the same map and I still have the same problems. My style of gaming gears toward more of a military style. This could be from a long history of playing such gems as Halflife, Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, Gears of War, and so on. I like being able to strafe without falling off the map, I like to be able to crouch and dodge using the terrain, and I like to think my way laterally out of situations without the risk of being sworded by a camper hiding around a corner. The Blackout map leaves little room for any of this and for that reason it’s going sit slightly below Guardian and Midship on my list of Halo maps…

…I’ll still play it though.

I am indifferent on the new look, personally I don’t mind the gritty oil-rig look… but it still doesn’t make up for the fact that some asshole will always shotgun my face from some little perch he found from playing the map ten trillion times.

Ghost town

D – Ghost town is a medium-small asymmetrical map. We were divided on this one; I found it overly complicated. For a small area, there’s a lot going on. Not only are there up to three levels, multiple entry points to every room, and compromised sightlines, but there are bits of wreckage all over the place that I found myself tripping over when trying to make timely retreats.

That said, it looks great, and it does present some interesting possibilities. We had white-knuckle thrills and moderate success holding down certain areas, like the base and the ‘green room’ (where the sniper spawns). I’m just not sure I’ll ever prefer it to some of the other maps.

Nadine – I thought I was going to hate this one, but I really like it. Almost instantly I took to its broken, bombed out corners and gutted floors. It reminded me of an overgrown Turf that had the shit kicked outta its bawls. We played some games online against some pretty heavy hitters, way beyond my skill level, but the map gave us hope and kept us in the game with some dignity to boot. The level is made for offense/defense objectives for sures. There is one main base with several ways for enemies to get in on the right, center, and left but if you have your points covered and a man to back you up, things can work out.

Grenades are also great on this map. Long distance throwing is kinda moot, but tossing around corners and into all those openings I mentioned is super sweet. You can really do above and below attacks on this one, you can be surrounded by three guys from so many sides in such a short time the desperate guerilla feeling is painfully present. If that’s how all those Call of Duty 4 dudes feel when they are playing, well, damn. But I guess you need to feel high anxiety levels to get that exquisite chemical victory flush in your brain. This map is a goodie, I’m looking forward to lots of Assaults, Capturing Flags, and Zombies.

Toku – Huzzah, a map that appeals to my combat sensibilities, unlike Blackout, Ghost Town makes me feel at home and it could be a simple case of “I like the way it feels.” I tried to explain why I like this map poorly on the podcast, but I’ll give’r a better shot here.

The map feels like playing in a block of Swiss Cheese, and that’s a good thing…It’s chock full of holes. If you are playing Team Slayer you can get with a group of friends and defend any number of points on this map with some degree of success, but not so much so as to ruin the challenge. If you are playing on the attack it is very easy to invade any “base” on this map through any number of side passages.

I was afraid this would be a “shotgun” map, and that the Guru’s online would just camp with each other and wait for the one shot kills, yet this doesn’t seem to happen, and I think it is because it is very difficult to stay in one place for any length of time. Any hideaway you might find is most likely easily accessible from other points. I can’t see playing King of the Hill or Hammer matches here enjoyably, but Zombie and Carry the Skull would be a riot.


D – Avalanche is a ‘re-imagining’ of Sidewinder from Halo 1. The improvements come in the form of teleporters and man cannons, ensuring footsoldiers can move about almost as quickly as their vehicle-borne counterparts.

I love this one, but as a large map I’m not sure how much I’ll get to play it. You’d need a lot of people to get a good custom game going on it, and outside of Big Team Battle I can’t see it showing up in the matchmaking playlists much. The vehicle mayhem is fun, but we think the Hornet might have been nerfed just a little bit too much.

Nadine – I adore outdoor maps with wide spaces for dog fights and tank busting. Avalanche was a surprise because I really did not like the original Sidewinder that much, kinda too big and too barren. This horseshoe shaped map is a great size with excellent tunnels, lots of great default weapons, and an interesting base design. The bases are very small, pretty much just a ramp up to a man cannon and a teleporter to a turret and rockets. In Assault you gotta haul ass to grab the rockets and get back to base, station a man at the turret to block the midpoint overpass from enemy vehicles, while another person should most def man cannon out to the mountain tunnel entrance to either get the spartan laser, or guard that entrance.

See, that’s just basic strategy though, there’s a lot of variation depending on how many players you have. I’d love to play six on six flag on that map, it would be crazy town. I’m very pleased with the look of this map and I really enjoy it. It’s that outdoor feeling, I love the big open spaces, makes me feel like I’m playing campaign I think. Great map, most awesome indeed.

D – Just wanted to add: Yeah, that campaign vibe. You hit the nail on the head.

Toku – Oh, sadly this is not going to be a often played map and I can see why. It will be a hard one to jump online and play with a few friends because you really need the numbers, and joining with strangers really runs the risk of matching up with TARDS who think driving mongooses headlong into enemy territory yelling “Take this you bitches!” is a fun idea… and then of course DYING on the vast expanse that is Avalanche because a much better player pops him with a well placed sniper shot. The map is VERY open and vast, and yet allows for quick movement on foot using a variety of teleporters and man-cannons. There are also plenty of tricky little tunnels and ridges which means a guy on foot won’t immediately die to another guy in a wraith or hornet. We proved this week through some random playing that vehicles DON’T mean you have the upper hand, and that is a nice change (Valhalla Anyone?).

That said… I DON’T like the fact that you practically have to ONLY play Team Objectives if you want to get any use out of this map. Social Slayer would bite steaming piles of ass, and don’t even get me started on Zombie or Crazy King.

Oh yeah…and to the guys who want to play Rocket Race in this map. If there weren’t so many jerks out there who just play beat-downs and don’t race it would be fantastic on this map. To all those who DO do that, screw you and the horse you rode in on, you ruin Rocket Race for the rest of us.

3 comments on "Tested: Halo 3's Legendary Map Pack"

  1. D says:

    Not sure why you think social slayer would suck for Avalanche, Toku – I think the default team sizes are 5 players, so you’d have enough bodies in the snow, anyways. Crazy king could just be crazy enough to work, considering all the vehicles and man cannons and what not.

    But I agree – what’s with that shit in rocket race?

  2. toku says:

    I meant “free for all” slayer….everyone for themselves> I can’t picture that being very enjoyable. You’d be picked off by snipers and vehicles very quickly.

    Crazy King could be okay… until it the hill moves to different side of the map leaving you stranded and running. It would be tough to pull off, especially in groups under four.

  3. D says:

    I think any free for all, you don’t get the full usage of the warthogs and mongeese, so not so good, yeah.

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