With Halo 4, you’re definitely getting value for money. Coupled with the on-disc content, you also get free weekly Spartan Ops and matchmaking updates expanding 343’s overall vision for the game. The team are incredibly busy trying to make this the most compelling, engaging multiplayer experience they possibly can and it shows.
Somehow, in the middle of all that, the team managed to squeeze out a Crimson Pack before Christmas, bringing three maps and a new mode to the game. We’ve had a chance to check them all out quite extensively and now ask the inevitable question: Is it worth the 800 MSP price tag?
Developer: 343 Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Format: Xbox 360
Version Tested: Xbox 360
The maps have a separate playlist and aren’t currently embedded into general competitive matchmaking. It’s so those who haven’t purchased the packs aren’t alienated. Unfortunately, on such a limited playlist, the community is surprisingly small and while you’ll never struggle to find a match, at certain times of the day, you could end up playing the same person a few times, even if you’re moving between games.
However, the all-important factor is how the maps play. The good news is that all three of them offer a mix of great action and tactical play, and each adds something to the game in their own unique way.
Harvest is the smallest of the three maps, and is probably best played with objective-focused modes. The map is set around two opposing buildings, each resembling an industrial complex. Naturally, this makes it a perfect candidate for Capture the Flag, but it can also present some intriguing, close-quarter combat opportunities as players fly down corridors, turn tight corners and jump down on unsuspecting prey from high above.
The buildings are close enough to each other that players can jump from one to the other if taking a running leap. However, this will almost certainly make them vulnerable to sticks and gun-fire, and also makes them ripe for one of the pack’s 8 achievements, ‘ODST’. People love dem achievements.
However, Harvest also benefits from the land separating the two buildings, and while there isn’t a lot of room for maneuverability vehicular combat is still encouraged. If you’re getting shotguns in the face or sticks on the ass indoors, you can take a wander outside and allow yourself to become target practice for a Warthog gun turret. There are places to hide and crevices a player can reach that a vehicle can’t, but the small amount of land doesn’t really provide a lot of leg-room, and necessitates both quick-thinking and fast-reflexes to survive.
In terms of balance, this map makes it easy for one team to dominate, and it’s very unlikely that once a team loses a foothold, they’ll regain it at any point. Depending on your point of view, that could be construed as a good or a bad thing.
Harvest supports 8-12 players on any setting.
Wreckage is a middle-of-the-road map. It can accommodate most gameplay types and is much better for vehicular combat, as well as sniping and cover-based shooting.
Essentially, the location is a crash-site and is littered with debris and broken pathways. Exploring and being out in the open will be the last mistake you make on this map, however, as there are so many vantage points and places to get shot at, sniped from and ambushed it’s not even funny. It also accommodates the crafty player who likes to sit back, pick their spots and assassinate at the most inopportune moments.
For those reasons, it can be a very frustrating map to play on. Wildfire comes from all angles. There are also limited interiors due to the wreckage, and the land is uneven with bumps and dips everywhere. It does make for some fast-paced gameplay, but likewise, Wreckage can make for some very slow-based, tactical games. Let’s also not forget the inclusion of Warthogs and Ghosts that can roam around to mop up quick kills.
By far, Wreckage is the most dynamic and versatile of all three maps.
There is also a man-cannon to launch between both sides of the match, which can be a godsend for a player desperately on the run from overpowering vehicles.
Up to 16 can butt heads on Infinity Slayer, whereas only 12 can play on other gametypes.
We saved the biggest till last. Shatter is purposely designed for the likes of big team slayer and all out vehicle warfare. Set on an old, ruined volcanic world, there are wide-open spaces in which to traverse and spill the blood of Spartans. Shatter is also a very complex map, filled with routes scattered all over. Some are more central and obvious, whereas others go slightly off the beaten-path.
In addition to the large construction mid-field, there are large jagged rocks to dive behind, and caves to linger in. There are even slightly smaller structures at the ends of the map which can provide some breathing room for players if the action is getting a bit hot and heavy.
As expected, vehicles litter the map. From Ghosts, to Mantis mechs, anarchy is destined to ensue. There are also detachable turrets peppered around, which is great for mowing down vulnerable Spartans, as well as fighting against mammoth machinery.
With the release of the Crimson Map Pack, we’d go as far as to say Shatter is one of the best big-team maps in Halo 4. There are so many different ways combat can break out. It’s varied and violent, and that’s what we love most about it.
Shatter supports 16 players on Infinity Slayer and 12 on other gametypes.
There’s also a brand new mode, Extraction. It’s not stand out by any means, but it does offer some good team-based fun. Designed with the three new maps in mind, Extraction has teams moving to extract data from various locations on the map. These locations are shown to the player in a sequence, and players must collect data in that order in order to win.
Extraction isn’t going to pull players away from the core modes (especially with all the exciting new playlists added in the past few weeks) but it’s a nice change of pace for a few games, and it makes a change from simply blasting each other to smithereens.
The Crimson Map Pack also comes with eight new achievements. They come to a total of 250 GS and offer a nice balance of difficulty for new, as well as experienced players. They’re also pretty fun to unlock.
The Crimson Map Pack offers good value for money. Harvest & Wreckage aren’t any better or worse than the maps currently in the game, whereas Shatter is a really entertaining showcase for total mayhem.
It’s fun to learn new maps, and we’ve had some fantastic War Games during our play time. It’s a decent start for Halo 4 Season Pass holders, but we hope 343 have a few more exciting tricks up their virtual sleeves.
- Shatter is a great big-team map with lots of combat diversity
- Achievements are varied, rewarding and offer a nice balance of difficulty
- Each map is receptive to different styles of play
- Extraction is a bit of a letdown
- Easy to be dominated on Harvest and almost impossible to recover from.
- None of the maps particularly stand-out, nor will ever be Halo Classics
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
A solid start for Season Pass holders and great value for money. We just hope 343 have a lot more to show us in the next two packs.