Just my quick kneejerk reactions to the newly released maps to Halo 2. They went up for purchase in the content downloader this morning for $4. Note this is the Halo 2 content downloader, not Xbox Live Marketplace.

This first thing that strikes me about these maps is some of the weapon choices. Tombstone’s default start is the Battle Rifle, and with good reason as its too big to use SMG or Plasma weapons to start. The Sentinel Beam also makes a return appearance in Desolation. 2 Halo mainstays are completely missing from the weapon set: Plasma pistol and Sniper Rifle. This can be changed easily in a custom game, and I’m sure Tombstone will become a popular sniper map, but its kinda odd for them to be missing. Neither map supports vehicles or turrets from what I can tell, which further narrows the gameplay. I think the designers were trying really hard to bring orignal Halo multiplayer into Halo 2

Also, neither map feels like Halo 2. While any of the original maps felt like they were plucked from the single player campaign, these look more like arena maps more common to Quake. Tombstone in particular has lots of hallways and ramps everywhere, and it doesn’t have the organic feel of Halo 2. It is a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved’s “Hang ‘Em High” map, and its still really fun to play capture the flah, oddball, and King Of The Hill, but the geometric nature and screwy structure choices seperate it from a map like “Turf” where the art style kept you within the Halo universe even in the free for all multiplayer games.

Ultimately the maps appear well worth the money as they will add some new life to the game and its been a good 2 years since I’ve grabbed a flag and had no idea where to take it and thats a fun feeling. Just don’t expect a new classic like Lockout, Terminal, or Relic. The best way to play these maps will be with friends, so send a friend request on Xbox Live to me, and we’ll get in some games in the upcoming Powet.TV Game Night for Halo 2 on April 28-29!

So what do you think of the new maps? Was a throwback to Halo: CE welcome in the last days of Halo 2? Leave a comment below!