I liked Defiant the best, myself. Condemned was a great map, and its only problem in my opinion was that it should have been smaller or more expansive. As it stands, it is a bit too large for four-player team matches, and the fact that it’s a “wheel” shape and teams can often go the same way and never meet up makes it feel stupid. There is simply too much map for a four-player team game, though I feel Uplink would probably work in that turf. As far as a bigger map goes, Condemned is just too narrow. Its hallways seem like they were made for a four-player team to pack down, not a six or eight-player team. The corridors are simply too tight for that, and even the zero G area is too small.
All that said, Condemned still plays exceptionally well when it works, and is a blast. The middle area isn’t really an ideal spot to camp, for one thing. There are four ways in, and it’s hard to keep track of all four. That said, zero G play is still actually fun in that space. I gladly say I spend more time in zero G on Condemned than out of it, because I for sure, then, have an advantage of watching my radar rather than listening for enemies down there (not everybody pays close attention to radar, giving me an edge). Plus, I know this super-fun corner to wait by, and when the enemy team comes through, chuck a grenade at the front, and beat down or assassinate the rear two. It’s funny to hear their enraged screams when you do this. Condemned really is, at its core, just a blast to play. The atmosphere gives it a very compelling feeling, while some of the spaces are awkward, but the ones that work nice work really nice for Reach.
As for Highlands, I’m not sure I like this map very much. To start with, it just didn’t get the atmosphere or visual feel right. Much of the map actually looks subpar visually when compared to the rest of Reach; even the rest of the Defiant map pack. The colors seem watered down, the atmosphere is just a tad too bright, and then the Cruisers… The Cruisers might seem cool as a background, and they are; just never look at them. If you actually look at them, you will see how poorly-detailed they actually look. The visuals just really don’t establish an effective atmosphere for me, and I don’t know why. Maybe the map, its visuals, and its skybox would’ve been improved by just removing the Cruisers. Then they could have touched up everything else, cleaned up the horrid-looking skybox, and maybe made it darker. Make all the land beyond the actual gameplay area scarred by glassing (visibly so), and put a fleet of cruisers off in the way background to illustrate. This would be kind of like to Scarab assembly line in Assembly, but further away.
Visuals aside, though, I’m just not sure about how this map plays. One major flaw is definitely how quickly the weapons respawn. I’ve had instances where I’ve grabbed my side’s shotgun, went over to the opposite side, got killed by their shotgun, then went to grab ours again and it had respawned within this maybe thirty-second to a minute period. The shotguns on this map always have 20+ shots in them, are always respawning, and make it impossible to use the building for anything but close quarters combat. Snore. This is bogged down further, then, by the fact that snipers camp the bases like it’s nobody’s business and make it practically impossible to be anywhere but inside, with the shotguns. You’d think this whole concept would make the map a quick and easy killing field, too, but it doesn’t. I have actually not finished many of my games on Highlands. My team can usually garner 40-60 kills, but we can never reach the limit before time runs out, so the map also feels very large in that respect. I like Highlands, but not that much.
I won’t really get into Unearthed except the say that its atmosphere is great fun, it’s the best Firefight map in Reach, and well worth the third map slot in the pack. So overall it’s not that Noble’s even a bad pack, it’s just that I like Defiant much better. Many of the Noble maps suffer from the same design flaws of the shipped maps: way too open areas, making it difficult to travel in the open without getting shot down.
Tempest is the quintessential map of this flaw, I’d say. It’s mostly got to do with the fact that the middle’s a hill and the map uses jet packs, too. It’s actually obviously a fairly small map, but that’s a problem, because its sight lines are still suited to DMR combat, meaning you’ll see the enemy and start shooting at them long before you would on a bigger map. But the hill doesn’t help. It means if you stick to the middle, you’ve got an automatic advantage on anybody down the sides. They’ll have a hard time finding cover. It doesn’t act as cover, it acts as a high ground. It’s overall very annoying. And then sometimes we see fights break out along the sides (where the snipers spawn), but I find that it’s borderline impossible to use any kind of tactics in these fights. It’s just a barren killing field, making dependence on bloom and armor abilities (namely armor lock) the prominent feature of fights in these areas. It’s overall, in my opinion, a map that would have worked well if Bungie had expanded it and given it more natural cover, like Valhalla.
As far as Anchor 9 goes, it’s definitely the best pack of Noble, which is sad, because there’s not much to it. It’s kind of harder to explain what works right about maps, as opposed to their flaws, so I won’t even really try. I’m running out of room as it is.
Breakpoint is also dreadful for anything but Invasion (where it’s a rare blast). It’s a Banshee-fest with DMR campers all over that spine and one team having a huge advantage with the Wraith. There’s simply not enough viable cover, in my opinion. You can wait out teams passing by inside a building, but the building’s not going to do anything to help you with the engagement. Cover, in my opinion, is a place to shoot from, not to hide in. Well, not on Breakpoint. Very little of the cover does anything but provide a place for shields to recharge and a place to start a battle from scratch, rather than giving a much-needed advantage in the battle.