Halo 4: Majestic Map Pack Review: Close-Quarters Fun

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The Halo 4 Majestic Map Pack marks the second batch of downloadable multiplayer maps, and it is clear that 343 Industries went with the “less is more” approach – believing less space leads to more intense, frenetic action. And wow, did it work like a charm.

Platforms: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Genre: First (In a New Trilogy) Person Shooter
Release Date: February 25, 2013
ESRB Rating: Mature

Unlike the Crimson Map Pack, which featured medium to large maps filled with vehicles, the three maps in the Majestic pack are much smaller, which helps concentrate the action and really ramp up the fun.

Landfall
Landfall takes place at an industrial waterfront on the planet Tribute, shortly after the Covenant start kicking the buttage of the local citizenry. Looking at the gorgeous skybox stretching across the water reveals Covenant warships blasting a burning city, and UNSC transport ships evacuating survivors. You will then see your own dead body because you’ve been staring at the beautiful scenery way too long, and didn’t pay attention to the person shooting you in the back. Whoops.

Landfall is a medium-sized asymmetrical map with an almost perfect mix of indoor and outdoor areas. Inside, there are many tight corridors and choke points, with much of the action concentrated in a central two-story garage. Outside, there are good opportunities to snipe with the DMR and Battle Rifle, but there is also lots of cover to duck behind, so camping won’t get you too far. As a result, the map encourages constant movement, which keeps the pace fast and frenzied.

Inexperienced players will immediately run for the rocket launcher (and likely get killed as soon as they get there), but smarter players will grab the SAW or shotgun, and stay indoors to rack up plenty of close-quarters kills. Successful teams will have a good mix of long distance gunners weakening enemies, with short range players finishing them off.

This is by far the most popular map in the pack, and for good reason. It is the quintessential Halo Slayer map, and is an absolute blast to play.

Monolith
Monolith is located in an asteroid field, with yet another stunning skybox above you. This is a small symmetrical map that once again feels like a classic Halo battlefield. There is lots of open space, but it is filled with small structures that create plenty of cover and many interior choke points. Once again, the initial race will be for the power weapons, but players spawning with their default DMRs and Battle Rifles can easily dominate – as long as they stay in the open. Get into any of the structures and they’ll be in trouble against players with assault rifles or short range weapons.

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This is a great Slayer map, but where it really shines is in objective games like King of the Hill, where the open exterior and tight interiors mean you’re constantly under fire and must keep moving at all times. Lots of back alleys and a pair of man cannons mean you can easily sneak around and flank enemies who aren’t paying attention. If you love intense, focused combat where you’re never out of the action, Monolith is the map for you.

Skyline
Taking the “less is more” philosophy to the extreme is Skyline, which is located on a “space tether” (whatever that is) in the middle of a glittering night-time city. This map is absolutely tiny, making it feel like you’re playing in someone’s basement. However, that also makes it perfect for 1v1 or 2v2 matches.

The two-level design provides decent sight lines up top for long range weapons, but it’s the assault rifles and shotguns that dominate, especially down on the ground level. The small, symmetrical design is filled with corridors that funnel the action, almost to a claustrophobic level. Go up top for some fresh air and you will encounter lots of cover, which also provides hiding places for enemies. This is a great map for Hologram lovers, since the tight space pretty much forces players to shoot at anything that moves and not give them the luxury of choosing their targets.

Overall, the Majestic Map Pack rocks. No, there aren’t any vehicles, and Skyline might be a bit too small for some tastes, but you can’t deny that the smaller, more intimate maps create some pretty darn intense matches. Lovers of frantic, close-quarters combat should look no further and download this immediately.

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

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