New Halo 2 maps out now

Classics Hang 'Em High, Derelict transformed into Tombstone, Desolation; new Blastacular Map Pack now available for $4.

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In just one month, the gaming public will get their first crack at Halo 3, the anticipated sci-fi shooter from Bungie Studios, through a multiplayer beta test. To hype up excitement for the game and to ease the painful waiting period Halo fans will endure until May 16, Microsoft has released a pair of new multiplayer maps for Halo 2, the top-selling Xbox game from 2004.

Dual-wielding and energy swords meet Hang 'Em High.
Dual-wielding and energy swords meet Hang 'Em High.

The $4 Halo 2 Blastacular Map Pack contains a pair of arenas, both of which are revamped takes on two Halo: Combat Evolved maps. Tombstone is a re-creation of Hang 'Em High, one of the most popular Halo maps of all time. Desolation, a new look at Derelict, is the second map in the pack. The maps will only be available in custom games for about a week; after that, they will be cycled into the ranked matchmaking playlists.

Because the maps are Xbox content--not Xbox 360--they won't appear on Xbox Live Marketplace and they can't be purchased with Microsoft points (however, the download is available to both Xbox 360 and original Xbox owners). To get the maps, Xbox 360 gamers have to go old school and download the maps directly through Halo 2, and must have a credit card linked to their accounts.

Bungie admits this is likely to confuse some gamers who have accounts created with Xbox Live Membership cards rather than credit cards, but offers a simple workaround on its Web site. The developer also says that some European Xbox 360s may experience some difficulty getting the maps, but once again, offers an easy method on Bungie.net.

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