The lights are on
If you've been enjoying Reach's stellar multiplayer, the three new maps deliver the goods. Bungie has done a great job in the past of expanding their games over time, at least for multiplayer enthusiasts. The three new stages on display in the Defiant Map pack are fun to play and up to Bungie's expectedly high design standards, but have been designed by another developer: Certain Affinity. None of them introduce any elements that are going to dramatically shake up the multiplayer landscape, but what the new stages do deliver is of high quality.Before mentioning the features of each individual map, it's worth noting how well each of the three manages to tie into the fiction of the Reach storyline. The new maps are grounded in a mix of beautiful scenery and the devastating effects of war -- an aesthetic that Bungie's games do better than almost anyone, and Certain Affinity has followed suit with some gorgeous locales. Each map has a sense of place within the world of Reach, and it makes the multiplayer feel like it matters in a way in which other shooters struggle.
Condemned taps into the space battle vibe apparent in Reach's campaign, but sadly doesn't offer any options to fly the same ships that were in the story. Instead, the battle plays out inside an orbital space station that has been boarded by the Covenant. Outside the windows, you can watch the tail end of the UNSC/Covenant naval battle as it plays out. The medium-sized, roughly symmetrical circle map is built around a large central area that happens to also be low-grav. The surrounding areas are filled with communication terminals, short hallways, and even a hangar with an inoperative ship. The map is built for 6 to 12 players, and seems to be the most general-use map of the bunch; expect to play a lot of Team Slayer, Team Objective, and Free For All matches as you run through its metallic corridors.
Next up: A giant new competitive map, and a new stage for Firefight
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