Game: Halo 4: Majestic Map Pack
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Available on: Xbox 360 only
Following hot on the heels of the Crimson Map Pack launched back in January, 343 have let loose their latest Halo 4 DLC offering in the form of the three-map-strong Majestic Map Pack.
If you are a hardcore Halo player, and chances are that you are if you are reading this article, then the idea of adding more content to your favourite online offering probably seems like a good idea. Heck, we all get tired of running around the same spaces over and over again. A map that bucks the trend, never becoming repetitive and tiresome is a rare thing, with only a handful of Halo maps of any era falling into that category. You’ll be glad to hear, then, that the Majestic Map Pack is packing, for my money, at least one of these holy grail maps.
343 have dubbed all three of the maps on offer in the Majestic Map Pack as being “perfect for free-for-all matches”, and to back that statement up, they have put up a dedicated FFA playlist which you have probably noticed already. FFA matches have been relatively hard to come by on Halo 4 since it’s launch last November, with classic Rumble Pit sessions only making fleeting appearances for a week or so at a time every now and then, so it’s nice to have the option to spend an evening living on the edge thanks to a dedicated playlist. 343 have included a team playlist, too, for those that want to get into some Oddball, CTF or Extraction action.
Onto the maps themselves, then, and we’ll start with Monolith, a map that will delight long-time Halo players and old school FPS fans in equal measure. It’s a map straight out of the arena shooter playbook, a circular theatre of destruction with nowhere to hide. Set in an asteroid belt, the map is flanked by Red and Blue bases on two sides, with the other two sides packing a pair of high-powered cannons, set atop a high walkway. It’s a symmetrical map, so gathering your bearings shouldn’t take more than one playthrough, and the key to success here is staying up, as finding yourself at ground level will quickly leave you frustrated and frag-less. Monolith is an absolute joy in Slayer matches, and delights as a King of the Hill map, with the small size and easy navigation lending itself brilliantly to many a frantic and exciting match.
Skyline, named as such because it sits at the bottom of a space tether construction site, is even tighter than Monolith, which makes it tiny by modern Halo standards. It reminds me of Halo 2’s Cold Station – a tight, moody multi-level battleground where the shotgun is king. Skyline provides a great Capture the Flag experience thanks to some clever flag placement, while Slayer matches go down well with most of the combat being confined to pathways that run around the outside of the map. The focus on ramps and stairs will see more agile players jumping over your head and shooting you in the back at every opportunity, so watch out for that, as well as more than your fair share of assassination opportunities. Of the three maps, Skyline is the least aesthetically pleasing, with it’s fairly bland location and scenery not really living up to its majestic brothers.
The pick of the bunch has to go to Landfall, though – the largest map on offer – set on the planet Tribute, during a recreation of the Battle of Tribute from the Human-Covenant War. The backdrop on display in Landfall is breathtaking, with massive troop ships docking on the other side of a vast sunset-illuminated lake, a human city burning in the distance. It really is as pretty as anything seen in the main campaign, and gives you more than enough reason to gawp at its beauty at the risk of getting picked off. The outside docking area provides access to a series of smaller workrooms, garages and containers, with broken down vehicles and other obstacles on show.
Landfall offers plenty of verticality, with stairwells and elevators providing access to the upper levels. Jet Packs seem to be the armour ability of choice here, perfect for leaping out of windows and taking down unsuspecting targets from above. Because of its larger size, Landfall lends itself to more game modes than Skyline or Monolith, with a game of Extraction on Landfall being a highlight of the whole Majestic experience.
VERDICT: The Majestic Map Pack succeeds in bringing a dose of old school Halo combat back to an online offering that was perhaps trying too hard to be just like everyone else. While you could argue that Halo needed a dose of Call of Duty to bring it up to date, it’s great to have the opportunity to taste the First Person Shooter of old from the Comfort of my Mark V Spartan armour.
The Majestic Map Pack succeeds where the downright bland Crimson Map Pack failed, with its stunning vistas and welcoming locales sure to put a smile on your face. If you long for self-contained, tight and frantic maps like Guardian, Battle Creek or Cold Station, the Majestic Map Pack is just for you.