Halo 3 Mythic Map Pack - an Early Look
Submitted by KP, HBO Reporter at Large
This past Thursday, Bungie played host to media types at their studios in Kirkland, WA where, in addition to delicious sandwiches and brownies, journalists and fans feasted upon the Mythic map pack. We were privileged to see Assembly, Orbital and Sandbox, all of which will be included in the Limited Edition of Halo Wars, releasing stateside on March 3, 2009.
AssemblyThere aren't too many small maps in Halo 3's arsenal, a problem that Assembly is here to fix. While not a remake, nor inspired by any previous maps, it is reminiscent of Halo 1 and 2's Wizard/Warlock. The map is circular with two easily traversed levels. It became obvious that you'll want to spend most of your time on the upper level, where you'll find the power-ups, equipment, and power weapons.
After designer Dan Miller's fly-through, we settled in for a few games (you can see all of our game stats on Bungie.net) to see what worked best with the map. We started off with some CTF on Assembly, putting the map's two bases through their paces. Being symmetric, the map is great for CTF although I wouldn't recommend epic numbers on this one. Even with just 3 on 3, both teams were able to make quite a few stops. Any more than 5 on 5 could get a bit crowded.
Russian Mines - one wrong bullet, and...
We played some straight-up territories and that worked very well. The small map means that you need to fight for each territory you earn, as opponents will have two or three respawns worth of time to evict you from the territory. We started to settle in here, using more of the map and becoming familiar with weapon placement, leading to mass carnage.
XerxdeeJ gets what's coming to him
Orbital's a really unique map, there's nothing quite like it in Halo's arsenal. It's very difficult to describe; we were told it was like placing two Us on top of each other, one slightly offset from the other. A base lies at the end of each U and there are two routes to the opposite base, one high and one low route. You can move between the routes at a few points and at the apex of each is a power weapon.
Look before you leap
Aesthetically, Orbital is one of the prettiest maps Halo 3 has to offer. It's original in that, while the human architecture and color scheme is familiar, it looks nothing like the Human levels in the game. If anything it resembles Halo 2's Cairo Station. There's a lot to see here, tons of little details to take in. Lars Bakken, multiplayer designer extraordinaire, gave us the tour and recommended slayer to start with. While all Halo maps lend themselves to slayer, Orbital's mix of close quarters combat along with long lines of sight make it great fun in Slayer. Unfortunately, we were distracted by lunch at this point and didn't explore too much more of the map, though I'm sure it would lend itself well to CTF.
Sometimes, Shield Beats Rockets ("Oh, Shiskha, My Shishka!")
The most exciting part about this map pack is the potential that Sandbox holds. Much like Foundry, Sandbox is completely forgeable, the default map being made out of objects which can be wiped out to create a blank slate. Unlike Foundry, however, Sandbox is outdoors and absolutely enormous. In addition to the ground level, Bungie has added a massive underground area (referred to as the "Crypt" - it's perfect for Grifball) and an unimaginably large amount of space to play with in the sky.
Bungie's been hard at work on these maps for quite some time, so there were several variants ready to go when we got there. We played CTF on the default layout, which was an absolute blast. Vehicles are awesome on Sandbox, what with all of the objects doubling as ramps. We also tried Team Slayer on a version of the map that was fine-tuned for vehicular mayhem, there were lots of explosions. After that we tried out another variant created in the sky bubble. I believe verticality was the theme, as you could never tell whether that dot on your radar was above or below you. Then we moved down into the crypt for another game, in a map designed for that area by a Bungie tester. We played about five different variants on that map in just an hour, and with Bungie providing near limitless tools to the community, the possibilities are mind-bottling.
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