Halo 3 is in no danger of losing its steam. With the release of Halo Wars and the pending arrival of Halo: ODST, gamers are still in for real treats regarding the franchise. Recently, I got a chance to check out the Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack, containing three brand new maps ripe for play. Unfortunately, if you find they just might be to your liking, keep in mind that they’re currently only available to those who had the presence of mind to preorder Halo Wars. So, if you haven’t got on that, why not visit a friend who has to get a look at them? In the meantime, I’ve written my impressions of the maps for your reading pleasure.
First up on my playlist was definitely Sandbox, as I had been looking forward to testing out the immense, open area. Foundry, it is not! Sandbox is exactly what the name implies – a giant sandbox, for all intents and purposes. Taking on the appearance of a small headquarters in a swirling, sweltering desert, it transports your matches to another place entirely.
There are only a few real structures available, and near both ends of the map you have two bases. Both are exactly the same, so Sandbox is quite ideal for CTF matches – it practically begs to be used in that manner. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the map is the fact that there is cover to be found and utilized, but rarely enough. What’s around is segmented and small. You can find enough places to nest if you want to survive, but it’s a challenge.
If you’re big on the Forge side of gameplay, then you’ll find plenty to love about Sandbox. It’s like an enormous playing field to customize to your heart’s desire. Skybox and Crypt are especially ideal for creation, and you’ll find yourself coming back time after time to see what outrageous map designs you can come up with. It’s a very suitable replacement for your “default” Forge playground. Overall, a handy and impressive addition to the Halo 3 map arsenal, and one you’ll want to keep in mind when you feel a bit inspired.
If you’re into CQC, then you’ll be a big fan of Orbital. Shaped in an unassuming path similar to a horseshoe, it’s a deceptively huge map. It’s an indoor map, of course, and the overall look can be likened to playing the actual Halo campaign levels. There are upstairs and downstairs areas, as well as hallways that interlock. Unlike some other maps, there are only a few set paths that you can take at any one time. This forces teams to stay together rather than go running willy-nilly throughout the map. Though, if you’re playing with a bunch of morons, they’ll probably still do that anyway. However, even if you’re not with friends and you’re playing with strangers, they may be forced to provide cover fire for you by accident. It’s tough to avoid doing so. Sorry, griefers!
While on a heat map you’d notice most areas getting a lot of action, there is one point in particular to watch for. That is a part of the map where hallways intersect. They don’t, in fact, connect to each other, but one is overlapping the other. Of course, gravity decides the winner in any of these showdowns – anyone who can get to the overlapping hallway end will obviously take out whoever is forced to be on lower ground. Because of parts built this way, Orbital is a bit of a cheap map. Being forced to stay with your team is a bit of a turnoff for my style of gaming, but for those who encourage strict team play, Orbital should be a treat.
There are vehicles within Orbital despite the cramped space, and this puzzles me. There is very little room for strategic vehicular combat, so it’s a strange decision to me. It’s tough to drive a Mongoose throughout the claustrophobic, winding hallways, but if you’re an awesome driver you’ll find yourself racking up the kills.
I enjoyed Orbital, but it is a bit small, and calls for too much teamwork whether you’re playing on a team or not.
Assembly looks much like previous Halo 3 maps we’ve seen, a bit like Epitaph in my opinion. However, it’s actually a Scarab factory. Awesome, right? It’s a rather epic map that is surrounded by half-finished Scarabs moving past on conveyor belts. Gorgeous.
Though it may seem small on one flythrough, it’s actually quite large. There are plenty of platforms but a limited amount of places that you can hide in, even though it might seem like there is tons of space to utilize. This map encourages running and gunning, which is more my style than in Sandbox or Orbital. It’s a shame that with all the running you’ll be doing, you’ll barely get a chance to have a look at the rich, varied colors and what’s going on around you.
Objective games are a blast on Assembly. I’d liken it to any match played on Shipment in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. You round up some players, load up CTF, and watch the chaos ensue. Overall, I enjoyed this map the most out of the pack, because it provided familiar territory, and also allowed me to vary my style of play. It’s the middle ground for the Mythic map pack, as if you’re not into creating or CQC, this will be the map you’ll end up playing most often.
Overall, I was very pleased with the Mythic map pack. It provides a good variety of maps for all types of players to use, and it’s more of the same classic Halo action. The maps are gorgeous, and in my opinion this is my favorite release so far. I am definitely interested to see what other players come up with using Sandbox – the possibilities are relatively endless! If you enjoy Halo 3 multiplayer, then try and get your hands on this map pack! You won’t regret it.