This is a simple, open plan map based around a core above ground base which you will have already seen in the the preview videos. You know, it's got a nice shimmery golden snakeskin patio bit. There's further bunkers which are buried in the snow and a tunnel system which links them. Look closely, and you'll see freakish purple tubes protruding from the snow, linking the bases. A good tactic is to hide near the distant exits to the tunnel systems. Players have a choice of heading back into the tunnel, starting a long over-ground walk back to the middle of the map or investigating an alien gun turret. If you choose to do that latter, you'll be shot. Yes, they're pretty pieces of alien hardware but they act as automatic sentry guns designed to keep you in the confines of the beta map. It's better than hitting an invisible wall, we guess but quite a shock when the vacant turret bleeps, powers up and then executes you on the spot. The bunkers themselves have shields at the entrances, which means you'll be free of chancers lobbing grenades into the small hideouts. Get into a bunker and you'll be free to do a lap of the tunnels, picking up weapons, shields and grenades before emerging out of the snow like some super-powered polar meerkat.
The massive landscape means that Ghost vehicles are a handy way of getting around but, like Halo 2, they have all the pros and cons of making yourself a flying target, yet the firepower is just about worth it. The flat nature of the level makes hit and run incidents frequent too, but don't expect to own a Ghost for any length of time given the huge supply of grenades.
The final point of interest in Snowbound is a rather large purple ball in one of the bunkers. It's a bit like the flying ball that Luke Skywalker has to try and hit when he's being taught how to use a light saber. Combined with the very Giger esque interior decoration, we'd sum up the Snowbound map by saying it's a little bit Alien, a bit Star Wars and best used as an open-plan training ground before entering the other maps. Think of it as a supermarket car park, best used for learning how to drive a car before you take a driving test but a bit boring once you know what all the pedals and buttons do.
This is the place for fun. Best described as a tropical leisure park stormed by alien terrorists. There's nice green land, sea and lots of pretty rivers joining the top and bottom of the map. At either end, however, lurk giant bases full of the kind of firepower, sniper hide-outs and jeeps that professional Halo gamers will love. The best trick is to pick up a Warthog jeep from one of the bases and drive it off the top of a base, using a blue gravity boost to shoot you (and jeep and passenger) into orbit. You'll have a good three seconds to look at the war below and another second to try and squash someone by landing on them. The pay off, off course, is that you land bang in the middle of a shootout and risk getting slaughtered in the cross-fire. You'll die, respawn and get another jeep for another go like an excited American infant, running and wobbling towards the Orlando waterslide with his rubber ring.
Hardcore Halo fans will like the long distance nature of the level - you can see (and snipe) the enemy base from your base and the Spartan Laser can turn the whole map into an ultra violent lightshow that Muse would be jealous of. The water effects are gorgeous. You'll stand still, shooting the waves and just as you begin to recall what the water in Halo 2 looked like, you'll hear someone breathing and then the familiar 'oorfffffffffh!' as you get beaten down by someone much better than you. Practice early and you'll be the one doing the heavy breathing. On seconds thoughts, you better start practicing that heavy breathing too - we think Darth Vader does it best, closely followed by that nasty bloke in Scream.