The multiplayer maps of the Halo series have my respect for two reasons: first, they are well made to the point that every inch of an area must be explored in order to learn the best strategy and two, the overall story of the Halo Universe is written across their battlefields in unique ways.
Campaign (and now Spartan Ops) is the prime example of setting storytelling, where the story happens because the characters have an interest in what’s going on at a location. To put it another way, the setting is intrinsically important because the plot is happening in it.
But the multiplayer maps of the Halo games have no such luxury. Their settings are inconsequential to the main goal of their design – player vs. player carnage.
And yet, both Bungie and 343 Industries have wrapped the tight corridors and sniping vistas of the multiplayer maps in a warm blanket of story. What could have been a series of repetitive play spaces is instead filled with gorgeous skyboxes, impressive detail, and discernible threads of sub-plots woven into the landscapes.
(Large sidenote: This is something I admire about the Halo – even if you could care less about the story you can never get away from it. Someone who only plays hours of multiplayer and never touches the Campaign (crazy!) would still away knowing a little bit about the Covenant, Forerunner and Humans of the Halo-verse whether they realized it or not.)
To highlight these storied spaces I’m starting the first of several cartography-themed posts, and in honor of the winter solstice officially telling Autumn to try harder next year we’ll start with the multiplayer maps of winter
First up …
“Red Blood, White Snow”
Location: Installation 04
Game: Halo Combat Evolved
Map Pack: N/A
This map was responsible for many firsts in my Halo career. First experience of the lack of traction the Warthog displayed on ice. First real taste of long-range sniping tactics (peek-shoot-breathe, peek-shoot-breathe) First frustration of getting around the horn (or the lack thereof) on a game of Capture the Flag.
First use of trees as cover. First realization that trees where not the best cover.
First time I had to use teleporters strategically (notice I said strategically; at Chiron TL-34 I just ran around like crazy).
“Sidewinder” also had a great set up for multiple paths when playing CTF. You could run out in the open, teleport back and forth or use the different tunnels to try and get to the flag.
Having these three options made for many intense moments of decision as your team tried to figure out what the most likely avenue was for the other team to press from, and since everyone was local (no LIVE – gasp!) the tension was even higher.
What about you? Any fond (or not so fond) memories of this ice-cold map on Alpha Halo? I’d love to hear what stories you and your friends contributed to this multiplayer space – feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks!
>>>>>>>[Post tenebras lux]