Halo 4: Crimson Map Pack Review: Vehicle Lovin’ Fun

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The first map pack for Halo 4 is here, and all three battlefields have one thing in common: vehicles. Each one has a plethora of death-dealing machinery for you to ride and enhance your Spartan-blasting pleasure (hmm, I think I’ve been playing this game way too much). So how do the new maps stack up?

Platforms: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Genre: First (In a New Trilogy) Person Shooter
Release Date: December 10, 2012
ESRB Rating: Mature

Harvest
“Harvest” is a small to mid-size symmetrical map that is ideal for objective game types like Capture the Flag and King of the Hill, but is also great for 4v4 Slayer matches. The buildings in the center of the map are where the main fighting is concentrated, with various ramps and bridges creating choke points and flanking opportunities. The Warthogs and Mongooses are mostly good for quickly running to the opposing team’s base, since you can only drive on the relatively small areas bordering the buildings. Also, you’ll be constantly under fire thanks to enemies on the upper floors enjoying great sight lines, so you really don’t want to be driving around too much.

Thanks to its small size, the action is concentrated and the battles are intense. I like small maps for just this reason, and “Harvest” is a great map for players who enjoy being in the thick of it at all times.

Wreckage
“Wreckage,” the only asymmetrical map in the bunch, is appropriately located amidst the chaotic debris of crashed ships. Like many maps, it has stunning skybox visuals, but of course, stopping to enjoy the view usually means a nasty bullet to the head.

This medium-sized map is almost maze-like, with huge ship sections littering the ground, creating some narrow roadways. You’ll have plenty of drivable space for the Warthogs and Ghosts, but those narrow roads create perfect kill zones for enemies who grab the rocket launcher. The single-man cannon will instantly send you from one end of the map to the other, and will be a popular spot to pick off enemies, since the majority of the eight new Achievements that come with the Crimson Map Pack require its usage.

“Wreckage” is a good jack-of-all-trades map, with wide-open space for long-distance kills, and tight choke points for intense close-quarters combat. It is well-designed for Slayer and small enough for CTF, King of the Hill, and Extraction, where you’re never too far from your objective.

Shatter
Large, symmetrical, with lots of open space, “Shatter” is truly the only map in the bunch where vehicle dominance is vital for victory. This is especially true with the Mantis mech, where a good player can easily control the battlefield either by blasting enemies to bits or providing relentless suppressing fire. Even the speedy Ghosts are no match against the Mantis, so controlling the Mantis usually means controlling the game.

Having said that, the big mistake many teams make is leaving the Mantis alone to fend for itself. Despite its devastating power, you still need to protect it. As with all big maps, it has great sight lines for snipers, who can easily pick away at the Mantis’ armor (or other players foolish enough to venture out on their own). The many rocks and caves also create sneaky hidey holes for players to either get close with power weapons and grenades, or attempt a potentially game-changing hijack.

The map’s size makes it best for large groups of players in Big Team Battle. Objective game types don’t work as well, especially those with moving targets like King of the Hill and Extraction, since it can take forever to get to your objective, and it often moves by the time you get there.

So although “Shatter” is big enough to emphasize fun vehicle combat, that same size works against it during objective games. It’s just too big and frustrating to run around between objectives, where you occasionally only encounter one enemy (if any at all), or end up by yourself since the rest of your team is still on the other side of the map (not good).

Overall, the Crimson Map Pack offers more fun battlefields for you to kill your friends and perfect strangers. Just leave the objective games to “Harvest” and “Wreckage,” and enjoy Mantis-mad BTB matches in “Shatter.”

Review Disclosure: A review copy of Halo 4: Crimson Map Pack was provided by Microsoft Studios for the purposes of this review.

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