Here we go again. After stirring extreme fanboy ire with our BioShock vs. Halo 3 throwdown, then risking all-out internet anarchy with our Gears of War vs. Halo 3 debate, only one great argument remained to be settled...
Call of Duty 4 vs. Halo 3. According to our sister site, Next-Gen, these games aren't just this generation's most popular shooters. They're the two best-selling games of any genre and of any platform. How could we not pit them against each other?
Now we finally have an excuse. In the last two weeks, both games have released downloadable map packs for $10. If you can only afford one, which is the better buy? GamesRadar Editors Charlie Barratt and Joe McNeilly decide - through any means necessary.
(Editor's Note: Only the 360 versions of these maps were compared. If you own a PS3 or PC, Halo 3 is unavailable and, thus, your choice is pretty clear.)
Why Call of Duty 4 is better: Both games look great, but Call of Duty 4’s new maps outshine Halo 3’s graphically. The diversity of environments represented in CoD4 goes far beyond Halo 3’s tired glossed-up sci-fi. Chinatown’s gritty urban textures and Creek’s luscious outdoor spaces exhibit detail and diversity that just isn’t available in Halo 3’s maps.
Meanwhile, Halo 3 insults us with a boring re-skin, a vast icy wasteland, and a map whose look is ripped straight from Gears’ playbook. Ghost Town is the most interesting visually, with an ethereal Angkor ruins feel, but it’s hardly enough to compete with Call of Duty 4’s gorgeous, varied offerings.
Why Halo 3 is better: I'll give you Chinatown. Moving Call of Duty's modern warfare from the dusty Middle East to the rain and fog-soaked streets of nighttime San Francisco was genius. I live near that area and the artists did a remarkable job recreating the atmosphere.
The other three maps, however, are uninspiring. Broadcast is copied straight out of the single player campaign. I was looking forward to television monitors shattering in every direction, but the action always focuses on the dull-as-vanilla balcony outside. Creek is nothing more than a rearranged Overgrown, and still far too WWII-esque for my taste. Killhouse is the worst offender of the lot - seriously, a one-room warehouse? Seriously?
Halo 3 gives us newly invented and imagined locations we've never experienced before - in multiplayer or single player. Blackout may play like Lockdown from Halo 2, but the layout has been transported to a completely different setting. Avalanche is awe-inspiring in its vastness, with mountains and bases that could swallow several Call of Duty maps. And I admire Ghost Town's similarity to Gears of War... you get that game's lush, dripping atmosphere with the added bonus of vehicles and a jump button. Best of both worlds!
Joe: No one map is good at everything, and like any multiplayer maps, CoD4’s have their strengths and weaknesses. Creek and Broadcast are best for objective games, while Chinatown and Killhouse are excellent for deathmatching. But any of the four maps are perfectly serviceable for any game type. Each area of each map has been precisely honed to maximize strategy and prevent camping.
Halo 3’s maps, however, are one-trick ponies. Deathmatch on a map as big as Avalanche is just a waste of time (even for objective games, the map feels too big). Don’t even bother trying to play objective games on tiny Blackout; it’s grenade-spam heaven. Then you have Ghost Town, where you’ll fumble around blindly until you learn the map by rote. Ghost Town’s myriad twists, turns and dark corners lack the refinement and balance of Chinatown, CoD4’s most similar map.
Charlie: Sorry Joe, but I'm going to have to totally disagree with you on this point. Halo 3's maps are built to handle any type of match you fancy. Avalanche is indeed massive, but did you not notice the generous helping of vehicles, teleporters and man cannons? Deathmatch is crazy, with almost every player piloting his or her own personal Hornet, Scorpion, Ghost, Mongoose, Banshee or Wraith. Team objective games are even better, as the designers have separated each side into UNSC Marine and Covenant factions, with the exclusive vehicles to match.
Ghost Town, meanwhile, is great because no memorization is required. The crumbling architecture is pocked with holes, cracks and piles of rubble. By simply running, jumping and crouching, you can blaze your own path almost anywhere on the map. I never encountered a complete dead end. The same cannot be said for Chinatown or Broadcast.