Halo: Reach Defiant Map Pack Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Feb 25, 2011
The first map I played was Condemned, which is set on an expansive space station orbiting around Reach. The station, Orbital Station Gamma for Halo-philes, played a key role during the invasion of Reach, and was heavily damaged in the process. The majority of the map resembles a typical Halo space station, but at the center of the map is a multi-level, anti-gravity room. Moving from the close-quarters of the control rooms and lab areas to the open central arena gives the map a great balance, and leads to a variety of unique encounters.
I actually had one of the best multiplayer moments I’ve ever had on this map during a Free for All Match. I ran into the anti-gravity room and jumped to try to clear it in one leap, and just as I jumped, a 343 dev did the same thing from the opposite side of the room. We sailed towards each other, each firing wildly, and just as we were about to collide, we both meleed and killed each other. The camera cut to my body falling to the ground, and a second later, the dev’s body landed right next to me. It was a gorgeous, if tragic, moment that I will cherish forever (sniffle).
We also played this map in Team Slayer. The layout really lends itself well to ambushes and wild aerial battles in the anti-gravity chamber, especially since there are so many places to hide on the lower level to pick off people flying overhead.
The session then shifted to Firefight on the mountainous outdoor map, Unearthed. The map takes place at a massive titanium mine, which creates a nice visual balance with the arid, rocky surroundings. Most of the fighting here takes place in the open spaces around the mine, but the facility is outfitted with a number of catwalks and platforms for enemies to flood through. Jumping into the rocket-mounted Warthog parked in the back corner of the map proved invaluable for dealing with the Covenant waves, especially when your driver is adept enough to drive up the stairs to a large platform that serves as one of the enemy drop points.
Unearthed doesn’t necessarily have one major defining characteristic, but the layout does create a nice balance of up close and personal combat, thanks to the industrial rigging of the complex, and open vehicular showdowns, especially when the Wraiths show up.
The final map is called Highlands, and I didn’t get to see it, because it's intended for larger matches than the preview event was set up to handle. However, it sounds gnarly. It’s set in the Military Wilderness Training Preserve, which is comprised of a series of massive compounds set at the foot of a lush mountain range with a towering waterfall overhead and serene lake at the center. Like I said, it sounds kind of rad, but I guess I’ll have to wait until the Defiant Map Pack releases on Xbox Live Marketplace March 15 for 800 Microsoft Points to see it in action.