Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack Xbox
Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Bungie
Release Date: Out Now
Microsoft recently announced that Xbox Live now has over 2 million members, an increase of 100% from this time last year. One of the reasons for this sharp increase in numbers has to be the release of Halo 2. The multi-million selling sequel to Halo not only offered a great single-player game but also offered one of the best Xbox Live experiences to date. It's no surprise then that extra maps have been made for the online game. Not everyone uses Xbox Live though and some prefer to play their multiplayer games of Halo 2 as a split-screen game or even over a System Link (Xbox LAN's are popular after all). With this in mind, Microsoft have released the Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack as a retail package so everyone, not just Xbox Live subscribers, can have access to these new maps.
The Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack is comprised of 9 new maps and a collection of bonus features. We'll look at the maps in a moment but let's first look at the bonus features. Under the section of Extras there's an Audio Test (that enables you to test if your 5.1 surround sound setup is configured correctly), a Halo 2 Announcement Trailer and a Halo E3 2000 clip. None of these are subtitled (the Audio Test isn't appropriate for deaf gamers anyway). There are also two exclusive videos. Another Day at the Beach is a Halo 2 cinematic that was created just for this map pack whilst Halo 2: Killtacular is a collection of behind-the-scenes interviews with the developers that discusses the new maps. Again these videos are not subtitled so they're of little value to deaf gamers. In addition to all this you also get the multiplayer update (you'll need to install this to use the new maps) that was only previously available via Xbox Live.
The new maps have been grouped into 3 separate packs (installation only takes a few minutes). There's the Maptacular pack which consists of the Terminal, Backwash, Relic, Elongation and Gemini maps. The Killtacular pack contains the Turf and Sanctuary maps whilst a Bonus map pack contains the Containment and Warlock maps. The maps are great (there's a lot of variety here too with a nice mix of confined small indoor maps and large spacious outdoor maps for up to 16 players and these have all kinds of weapon and vehicle configurations) and they are at least the quality of those that came with Halo 2. The manual is excellent and gives important details for each map. These details include: the map type, default vehicles, default weapons, preferred game types for the map and whether the map has any devices, power-ups or turrets. You'll find tips and short commentaries on each map which is brilliant.
The more cynical gamers out there might scoff at the thought of paying £14.99 for additional maps, especially as most of the maps can be downloaded using Xbox Live. However when you consider that there are many gamers out there that don't use Xbox Live but play in Xbox LAN's or split-screen games you realise this is actually a very useful product. You also have to consider that the maps can be installed on as many Xbox consoles as you want as you'll still need a copy of Halo 2 to play the game (this is only a data update after all). So if you have two Xbox consoles in your home you'll only need one copy of the Multiplayer Map Pack. It's a shame deaf gamers will miss out on the extra features due to them not being subtitled but to be honest it's not much of a loss. As a package to augment the number of maps you have in the multiplayer game, the Multiplayer Map Pack does its job very nicely indeed and those of you who play multiplayer Halo 2 and don't use Xbox Live should definitely pick this up.
Overall Game Rating: 8.5/10
Deaf Gamers Classification
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The maps on offer are great and compliment the existing ones in Halo 2. However, the bonus features are useless for deaf gamers.