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Tomaytoes Tomartoes

Tomaytoes Tomartoes

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Even the font of all knowledge that is Wikipedia can’t decide on the actual plural, they leave it up to your discretion. The collective term for Mongii is also somewhat illusive, although some seem to have settled upon “a band”. The more you know.

Last night was the first chance I had to truly get to grips with the new Halo Heroic Map Pack and so far, at least, they appear to be worth the 800 points dropped on them.

Starting with the weakest, Foundry seems like a poor relation to The Pit. A warehouse stacked high with boxes, this is the main domain of forgers due to the blank cube layout you get when everything is cleared out but in it’s current form it’s nothing special.

I’ve played Slayer and VIP here and both were interesting without being remarkable. There are a couple of bunker areas where you can hold out and protect your VIP and there is enough of a maze like structure to allow a Rainbox Six style sticking-together-and-clearing-spaces-methodically tactic to be very effective.

Rat’s Nest is an interesting one with an outer ringway for vehicles and an inner set of rooms and spaces for infantry to move around. The ringway is a nice idea and on more than one occassion I’ve seen a procession of Mongii stream past me, passengers offloading their rifles at the others. There is also enough cover for the use of hit and run tactics from those on foot towards those with wheels to even things up.

From my experience the inner areas are used sparingly as, again with Slayer and VIP, most of the action took place on the fringes. From my take, though, they have good potential as you can see plenty of to and fro being given there with numerous ways through the structure and pitched battles taking place on the stairwells.

Pick of the bunch is Standoff, a gloriously beautiful map shadowed by large satelite dishes, ala Jodrell Bank. Touted as a mini Blood Gulch, you have two bases at opposite ends of a plateau, built into the landscape, with a series of missle silos and rock formations between the two. The size and layout is such that it allows vehicles to snake around whilst also not being too big to stop those on foot walking from one base to the other… assuming you can avoid the turrets.

Not only is this my favourite but I also got to play more varieties of games on it, including Neutral Assault and CTF, and given the openness of it all these are tricky game types when dropped in with a random team.

Power weapons are used sparingly and even if you are offed by the rocket launch it’s never too long a walk back to your base but you learn to use the cover provided quickly as the bases all look down into the central killing ground.

Whilst they’re all good, one thing that dampened my experience was that a great deal of my friends have already moved on from Halo. Part of what made Halo great for me was having a laugh with those I know on the battlefield, pratting around with Gravity Hammers and Warthogs. Hopefully at some point over the Christmas period I’ll be able to round up those scallywags and we’ll be able to give these maps a true road test.


While the cat’s away

While the cat's away (click to enlarge)

Click to enlarge.

I’m sitting here at work, during my lunch hour, knackered, bestubbled and wearing a beanie; Ali’s away this week and it means any semblance of order at home has gone out of the window.

She’s away with a friend at Centre Parcsfor the week and in the meantime I’m using this opportunity to play copious amounts of Xbox. Translated, this means stopping up late and having meals that mainly consist of either soup or pasta to allow me the most possible gaming time of an evening.

I had borrowed a stack load of games from work, including Sega Rally, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and the latest Tony Hawks game, but despite all those temptations sitting so close I still can’t pull myself away from Halo and Pro Evolution Soccer.

Pro Evo is still as good a game of football as you are going to get without hiring a couple of Premiership squads to have a kick around in your back garden and Halo is… well, it’s just Halo. My Halo buddies and I have been sampling the products of the Forge and have been racing quad bikes through mine fields, recreating the D-day landings and generally having a laugh with large hammers; every night can bring something different.

If this were the video game equivalent of Desert Island Discs, these pair would happily accompany me to my tropical retreat (along with a mighty long ethernet cable). What would go with them is up for debate but it will be interesting to find out which games you could play seemingly forever. Go on, what would you take?


You may think this is too obvious an image, but after our friends told us they wanted a garden centred around an outstretched Terminator arm petruding from the turf, this was, of course, a natural progression for gardenware.