GregHorrorShow’s Top 10 Multiplayer Maps

 

With the increase of online gaming, and the fact that almost everything released now comes with an online component, the design of multiplayer maps has never been more important.

So I’ve got together a list of the best 10 multiplayer maps out there – the fact that 8 of the 10 maps come from just 4 titles goes to show the excellent work that those designers are doing.

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10. VISTA (Red Faction: Guerrilla)

(Apologies for the poor quality of the video this is literally the ONLY video anywhere I could find)

We start our round up, funnily enough, with a map that is actually played offline in local multiplayer.

‘Wrecking Crew’ mode in Red Faction: Guerrilla tasks each player with causing the most damage to the buildings in the area within 1 minute.

The mode is as fun as its sounds and all the maps are pretty well designed but Vista’s mix of the namesake tower and large scale buildings mean this is the most requested map whenever we play.

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9. HIGHRISE (Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)

I’m not a massive fan of MW2 but the multiplayer is pretty fun in short bursts and the Highrise map is one of the highlights.

Set, essentially, in the upper floor of two buildings and on another building’s rooftop inbetween – this is a close quarters map with plenty of scope for sneaking into the enemies’ tower.

One of my favourite tactics was using the lower walkways to get into the opposite tower and launch an attack behind the enemy – that is of course if I could get in without being spotted… easier said than done 😆

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8. ROOFTOPS (Resistance: Fall Of Man)

Another roof based map but this time set in the alternate sci-fi universe of Resistance.

Apart from the futuristic weapons this has one major difference from the other games on this list. There are several air cannons on the ground that you can walk over and be boosted skywards and back onto the rooftops.

Unlike Highrise (above) you won’t die if you fall off the building giving you the option of staying up high on the roof and shooting from distance or getting down on the streets & alleyways for a more intense firefight.

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7. INVASION (Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2)

Easily my favourite Call Of Duty map, I have had a fair few successful rounds in this small deserted town in Afghanistan.

With plenty of buildings to search and/or hide out in Invasion has just the right mix of open and enclosed areas.

It’s also big enough to have quite a bit of freedom of movement and also has a few different routes to various parts of the map so it’s best not to stay in one place too long.

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6. THE FORT (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)

This is one of those few occasions where a DLC map (free I might add) turns out to be better than some of the maps the game shipped with.

The Fort is based on a level from the single player of the original Uncharted and it says a lot that this level is fantastic whether you’re playing the standard modes or co-op.

The amount of places you can get to in an attempt to outwit your enemies is great – whether you’re up above the open part of the map or underground near the tombs battling it out (or trying to get the rocket launcher :smile:) you can be sure you’ll be using as much of this brilliant map as possible.

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5. THARSIS DEPOT (Killzone 2)

It’s got to the stage, having played over a year’s worth of Killzone (not literally :lol:) that myself and my mates have a few favourite maps to play on.

One of these is Tharsis Depot – big enough to accomodate a full 16 v 16 but at the same time small enough that even 2 v 2 doesn’t feel too spaced out.

Set on the same refinery as the single player mission, Tharsis Depot is full of steel and has an elogated bottleneck between the bases down one side of the map. Co-incidentally 🙂 that is also where one team has to defend in search and destroy – which usually leads to all kinds of chaos.

With two floors to choose from there are plenty of ways to surprise your enemies and I am a HUGE fan of waiting around in the corridor just off the main room in the middle to shotgun any enemies that come my way 😎

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4. PORT VALDEZ (Battlefield: Bad Company 2)

This was one of the maps from the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 beta and it is still one of my favourite maps on the game.

The balance between defence and attack (in Rush mode) in terms of positioning of buildings etc is truly superb.

The last few bases of this massive map are fantastic and you really do have to consider your tactics. Making a run for it is all well good but you can almost guarantee a host of snipers will have their sights trained on the entrance of whichever base you’re at.

A really well designed map, especially considering the size and amount of bases in it.

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3. THE SANCTUARY (Uncharted 2: Among Thieves)

This map is my personal favourite from Uncharted 2. Whether it’s plunder, elimination, deathmatch or whatever – The Sanctuary almost always throws up a great match.

The underground tunnels are a fantastic addition in that they effectively add a third layer to proceedings and the risk/reward of positioning the Hammer on the exposed ledge is a stroke of genius.

In fact you can also climb to the top of the tower in each base, above the main rooftops so technically The Sanctuary has FOUR levels to play with. 😮

A monster of a multiplayer map considering how compact it is.

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2. VALPARAISO (Battlefield: Bad Company 2)

As with most of the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 maps Valparaiso has plenty of scope for both long range attacks and also close quarter battles.

It’s even possible to trek up to the top of the massive lighthouse to the side of the map for sniping opportunities – though heaven help you if you get spotted in there as you will be swiftly dealt with 😆

With plenty of hills to fight up/down on, this is a wonderfully varied map boasting four differently styled bases that will keep you entertained for ages.

The mixture of jungle environments just within this map is a testament to how well made it is – you’ll start in dense jungle before breaking into the open for a while until eventually you’ll find yourself in another dense jungle setting for an enclosed final base.

Most definitely my favourite multiplayer map for a long time but even then Valparaiso doesn’t take the number 1 slot…

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1. RADEC ACADEMY (Killzone 2)

Yep, the daddy of all multiplayer maps 😎

Radec Academy is a superbly designed map with both open areas and some really tight corridor and stairway areas which lead to some intense firefights.

The positioning of the search and destroy targets (for both teams) is inspired – essentially requiring you to hold a room that has three or four different entrances.

Meanwhile there is the opportunity to snipe from the balcony overlooking the square – but you’ll have be quick to take those chances as people don’t hang around… unless you’re lucky enough to find an unsuspecting soul taking stock in one of the doorways opposite 😎

Then of course you have the tunnels that run between each base and the building at the back of the map which can get quite crowded if a speaker spawns down there.

Overall for me personally, it’s tough to think of what more they could’ve done to improve Radec Academy – I sincerely hope it makes an appearance in the multiplayer mode of Killzone 3… whenever that appears.

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So there you go – my top picks for multiplayer action. Let me know via the comments if you agree? Maybe I’ve missed some out or perhaps you prefer a different map from those games?

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Dragon Age: Origins – Review (PS3)

 

I was quite partial in my younger days to the Fighting Fantasy books with their Orcs, Goblins and Dwarves – as well as some Sci-Fi titles that popped up here and there.

But I never really got much further than that and as I started playing more and more games I never really touched any of the RPG or fantasy stuff.

Dragon Age: Origins got me interested with the following stunning trailer (it’s also fairly bloody so avoid the below if easily offended):

Then came plenty of positive reviews, which helped build some excitement – along with an estimated playthrough time of 60 hours, which tempered my interest.

But I decided to take the plunge and give it try and it was nice to be immersed in a totally different type of game world to what I’m used to.

Let me just say quickly that I only did a handful of side missions and my playthrough clocked in at around the 26 hour mark. That’s the 2nd longest single player game I’ve ever played (the first being GTA IV with 48 hours).

So there is plenty to get your teeth into (and more if you want it) but not so much that you’ll never finish it, or feel that you’re not making progress.

Essentially you select your character type from Human, Elf, Dwarf or Mage – with Elf and Dwarf also having commoner/noble branches.

Then you have a couple of hours of establishing what type of character you want to be and building some backstory.

I went for a Dwarf commoner and thoroughly enjoyed blasting my way through my backstory.

From there your character is enlisted to become a Grey Warden – an elite group of fighters whose main role is to destroy the Darkspawn – evil creatures that have begun to overrun the world.

I won’t say anymore about the story but there is plenty of plot to get involved in. There must be hundreds of side missions and almost everytime you pick something up or look at it, your ‘codex’ is updated with info and you can read through them at your leisure (or not, I didn’t bother a lot of the time).

I really enjoyed the storyline of Dragon Age: Origins and it was nice to see characters develop over such a large amount of time – of course I understand that this may be the norm for you regular RPG players but for me it was a nice change of pace.

I actually came to care for my ‘party’ and ended up using a core of three characters most of the time – not the ideal way to play it I suspect but we were a close knit team 😎

The control system took a while to get used to – with X being attack and the other face buttons being assigned other functions such as heavy attack or ‘shield bash’ etc. There is a lot of choice.

Holding L2 pauses the action and brings up a radial menu with which you can direct your party/team and create potions/posions (if you have the right abilities) among other things. To be honest I’m such a novice in this genre that I didn’t touch any of that stuff.

In fact about a quarter of the way through the game I had to lower the difficulty from Normal to Casual as it was proving far too tough but I was enjoying the story enough to stick with it.

It’s been interesting to chat to other people who have played it and there seems to be a lot of different outcomes for the various side characters – which I think are based on your interaction (or lack thereof) with them.

The final battle is awesome, a completely epic set up that I loved every minute of and which ended up taking me about 3 hours to get through.

It’s not all positive though – a few parts were frustratingly difficult and on several occasions I had to check out online how to beat a few parts. That could be a genre thing but I’m used to games giving me a little heads up (“why don’t we try attacking from above” etc) if I die 8 or 10 times on the same part.

Overall I think for me on easy and without the hassle of potions/spells etc Dragon Age: Origins was a great game. It certainly should be an entry point into the genre for anyone looking to try one of these games out.

If you already play these types of games then I’m sure this is deep enough for you guys as well, judging by the high scores and awards given to the game by the industry.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the DLC and with a sequel scheduled for February 2011 I’m sure I’ll be returning to the Dragon Age universe at some stage in the future.

Rating: 8/10

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Borderlands – Review (PS3)

I was a bit sceptical of Borderlands at first – touted as a mix of RPG and FPS I just didn’t see what it could do differently to Fallout 3 to justify buying it.

Then I played it in split screen at Eurogamer and really enjoyed it. This was followed by positive reviews almost everywhere I looked. So I bought it.

And boy am I glad I did.

I’ll start by answering my own question – Borderlands is similar to Fallout 3 only in mission structure, and in so far as trying to take on a mission you are levelled up for is almost suicide.

One big difference is that Borderlands actually gives you a guide of what level you should be for missions rather than just letting you try and fail. I prefer this as it gives you a chance to weigh up whether or not you want to take a shot at a mission or not.

Fallout 3 is all about the story – the characters you meet and the side missions. Borderlands is all about the loot. The game creates random weapons as you go along so it’s unlikely two people will ever get the same set of weapons throughout a playthrough.

How awesome is that? I’ve probably got weapons no-one else will ever get!

Borderlands distinctive cartoon, tongue in cheek style is perfectly suited for the game and while the story isn’t particularly amazing, the colourful characters will have you chuckling along.

It’s one of the longer games I’ve played recently – clocking in more towards 20 hours for a first playthrough.

As good as the single player is, the main draw for the game is the four player co-op where you all take your levelled up characters online to complete missions.

This is a great idea and is wonderfully executed. You just party up and then can get on with whatever missions the host has to do. Or you can challenge each other to a duel, which is fun. I did have a few connectivity issues and also some problems with headset use while in multiplayer but on the whole it was a positive experience.

Overall, despite what I would class as a fairly weak ending, Borderlands is a game you should definitely play. Even if you plan to just play the single player it’s a worthwhile experience though the online co-op will keep you coming back for more.

Rating: 8/10

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Inglourious Basterds – Review (Film)

Inglourious Basterds was a labour of love for Quentin Tarantino. The acclaimed director took more than a decade to craft the script, becoming obsessed with making it his greatest work. So was it worth the effort or has Tarantino fallen short of greatness?

Telling the story of two undercover plots to inflict damage on the Nazi war effort, the film focuses on a Jewish girl orphaned by the SS and a group of Jewish US soldiers who inflict revenge on German soldiers.

Inglourious Basterds clocks in at the 2 and 1/2 hour mark but never feels overly long and the pace is maintained by switching between the two plots as they run parallel towards an explosive conclusion.

I really liked this film, obviously if you’re squeamish it’ll have you flinching in places but the violence never feels too out of place and while I felt the film was missing some of that trademark Tarantino dialogue, it probably benefitted from a tighter script.

There were a lot of great perfomances in the film, Brad Pitt obviously springs to mind as Aldo Raine and Melanie Laurent as Shosanna Dreyfus was impressive. For me though the plaudits have to go Christoph Waltz for his creepy, reserved performance as Hans Landa. Without his stirling performance the film may have veered towards a more ‘cartoony’ feel.

In places this film really did remind me of those tense war films of the past – stuff like The Great Escape – and I think, while over the top in parts, it lands on the right side of the action genre. It’s also quite refreshing to see a World War II film that isn’t purporting to be based on true events for a change.

Quentin Tarantino has reason to be pleased with the film as well in terms of success – Inglourious Basterds gave him his best ever opening weekend at the box office and has been showered with praise from most reviewers.

For me personally I’m not sure that it’s up there with Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs but it’s certainly the best thing he’s done for a long time.

Rating: 8/10

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‘Gone Tomorrow’ by Lee Child – Review (Book)

 

The Jack Reacher novels are a series of books that follow the exploits of a former US Army Major.

Reacher’s experience in the Military Police is invaluable in helping him deal with the various scrapes he gets himself into.

The last few Reacher novels haven’t quite matched some of the superb early ones but ‘Nothing To Lose’ and now ‘Gone Tomorrow’ are a return to form.

Lee Child’s writing style is wonderfully laid back and easy to read – I always find his books a great experience and ‘Gone Tomorrow’ is no different.

Telling the story of Reacher’s direct involvement in a political/government plot, ‘Gone Tomorrow’ opens in spectacular style and rarely lets up.

One of the major plot reveals is a little cheesy and unnecessary but in the context of the story makes some sense and while Child’s writing is formulaic in these novels it doesn’t take away from the overall experience.

The only problem is how long Child can sustain this formula without his readers becoming bored. Apparently the next book, ’61 Hours’ may be a bit of a departure and something new which would be welcome in my opinion.

Overall ‘Gone Tomorrow’ is an enjoyable read but one that feels familiar and ticks off the Jack Reacher checklist as it goes along.

Rating: 7/10