It looks stunning from end to end, and it plays well too. A medium-sized map, it's a nice balance between tight sub-arenas - the interiors of crumbling buildings and clear areas of street serve to focus the fighting - and long sight-lines, which is no mean feat for a level designer and something players warmed to very fast.
The reason players like it is that it means both melee and ranged players get a fighting chance. It comes into its own in game modes like Territories, where the size is just right, but any game mode will benefit from map design that lets you pick up kills close-up and from distance, without letting snipers get too comfortable with their spots. For other team objective games the asymmetrical layout of Ghost Town may be unpopular - lots of players seem to have decided they don't like maps that are too asymmetrical - but within a limited range, this map shines, and it looks gorgeous.
The runt of the litter, to some extent, is Blackout. As we mentioned, it's adapted from a popular Halo 2 map, Lockout, and it's not really changed much on the way. Some areas seem a little wider, and of course there are Halo 3 items stashed around the place - plus, the textures and geometry are all a lot nicer. However, the basic play style is still the same - fast-paced, aggressive and extremely melee-focused.
This map, in fact, reminds us a little of the QuakeWorld maps of yore. It's a very tight layout, with a courtyard, a couple of towers and a warren of smaller rooms, all linked up with ramps and an elevator, and you'll constantly be in close quarters with your foes. Although to our minds it's the weakest of the three maps, we can see it becoming a solid favourite among Slayer devotees - and it wouldn't be a bad map for duelling, either.
Although the three maps are the main meat of the Legendary Map Pack, it also expands Halo's much-celebrated Forge mode. Just like the Heroic pack before it, Legendary takes Forge to a new level, allowing you to add visual effects to your Forge-edited maps, ranging from turning everything sepia-toned through to an over-saturation effect that makes Halo look like an advert for additive-laden children's food.
Less gimmicky and more interesting are a few background tweaks to Forge. You can now place items in fixed positions in the world so they don't react to physics, which means you can plonk stuff down without worrying that it'll fall over as soon as gravity catches it; and the new maps come with special items built into them, so your creations are flexible without breaking the visual themes. We're especially enamoured with the range of items on Avalanche, where you can effectively build your own bases if you see fit.
In the final analysis, though, it's actually a little hard to see the value in this map pack. The maps themselves are fantastic, as you'd expect, and if you're a huge Halo 3 player then you'll buy them in a flash - but for the more casual types, it seems very steep to pay two quid each for maps which, despite being really good, aren't exactly mould-breaking for Halo's gameplay.
On the plus side, of course, our understanding is that the Legendary Map Pack will be free in a couple of months' time, just like the Heroic pack is now. If you're a nightly Halo 3 devotee, then by all means, pay for this right now, but if not, just wait until the maps are free. For 800 Points, they're too pricey; for zero points, we're all laughing. Bungie still has its knack for making some of the finest multiplayer maps in the FPS business, but for the next pack we're definitely looking out for innovation rather than more of the same.
7 / 10