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                                               The Battle for Reach Rages on this March with the “Halo: Reach” Defiant Map Pack
                                               Three new multiplayer battlefields arrive for the most critically acclaimed shooter of 2010

"Spartans, ready your assault rifles and prepare to take the fight to new fronts! The Covenant crushed human defenses on Reach, but the fight for humanity’s survival still rages on in three brand new battlefields set on the doomed planet. With maps set on a giant orbital station high above the burning surface of the planet, hidden inside the forest of a military wilderness training facility, and wrapped in the remnants of a civilian mining site, the Defiant Map Pack brings awesome new environments for Firefight matches and all competitive multiplayer modes.

  • Condemned: Condemned takes place aboard Orbital Station Gamma, a massive space station high in orbit above the planet Reach. Prior to the Covenant’s overwhelming invasion, Orbital Station Gamma provided long range communications for UNSC fleets and a vital lifeline between Reach and Earth. During the Battle of Reach, the station suffered terrible punishment at the hands of the Covenant but a few fortified sections remain intact, fully pressurized, and ready for combat. Condemned supports 6 – 12 players in a variety of action-packed game types, including Team Slayer, Team Objective and Free for All.
  • Highlands: Highlands takes place on the top-secret Military Wilderness Training Preserve on Reach. The Preserve is a large, wooded area where Spartan super-soldiers trained long before the war with the Covenant began. During the Battle of Reach, the Preserve was the site of key battles between the alien invaders and a group of Spartans who used their familiarity with these UNSC training grounds to significant tactical advantage…but not everyone who enters these woods makes it out alive. Highlands expands the fight with massive-scale engagements for 8 – 16 players in Big Team Battle, Team Slayer and Team Objective.
  • Unearthed: Unearthed takes the battle for Reach to a large Titanium mine and refinery located in the Viery civilian sector of the planet. This particular mine was built to take advantage of the exposed titanium inside a massive meteor crater. The titanium produced here is used in much of the UNSC hardware, from the chassis of the Warthog to the meters-thick armor plating of capital ships like the UNSC Pillar of Autumn. While this facility was quickly abandoned when the Covenant arrived on Reach, it still has significant tactical (and economic) value and it won’t be long before both humans and Covenant return to battle for control. Unearthed allows up to 4 players to launch a counterassault against the Covenant in Firefight and Firefight modes such as Generator Defense.

Created in partnership with Certain Affinity, the Defiant Map Pack will be available this March on Xbox LIVE for 800 Microsoft points, and will include all new Achievements worth a total of 150 Gamerscore. Eager for a first look at the brand new multiplayer maps? Be sure to check out the explosive world premiere trailer of the Defiant Map Pack available today on Halo Waypoint and"

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The main female protagonist, also the best character of this anime.

December is traditionally a very slow month around these parts, mainly because my workload has increased as 2010 nears its end. Then there is also Left 4 Dead 2. And Christmas, And New Year. Therefore this review of the magical medieval anime The Sacred Blacksmith will be the first of two (highly likely) or three (less likely so) anime titles reviewed this month in this blog. A 2009 anime, it will then face the current ‘Anime of the Year 2009’ holder Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei for the title.

The main title male protagonist. Doesn't look so sacred now after a beating by the main female protagonist.

In a fictional medieval world where demons are abound everywhere and magical swords has slender legs and great racks, our bumbling main female protagonist failed her first test as a knight when she has her ass kicked by a local town ruffian. Predictably, our brooding and slightly emotional main title male protagonist sweeps in to save her bacon. He then has to repeat that feat several times throughout the series as the main female protagonist rashly surged into other battles she cannot win with her atrocious swordsmanship.

The storyline in this anime is one of the most predictable I have ever seen for quite some time. The moment that white-haired guy appeared in the conference in episode 2, I thought to myself ,“Oh, snap!”. But surprisingly the storyline of this anime is quite light-hearted in essence, which caught me by surprise, because I do expect a mainstream shounen plot like the one in Märchen Awakens Romance, a relatively more serious title than this anime in nature.

The light-hearted storyline may have to do with the fact that this anime has pulled an Index and made the main female protagonist the most influential character in this anime rather than the main title male protagonist. The irresponsible and rash inept female protagonist, yet an idealistic and optimistic character is not only a source of many comedic moments throughout the series, but also involved in pivotal scenes such as the finale of the magic sword arc and the conference in the final arc. Meanwhile the main protagonist is only active in the first arc, while taking a back seat in the magical sword and the finale arcs, and completely missing in the third arc. This can be a good thing because the main male protagonist is a stoic emotional character, but then again it can also be bad because the storyline that matters actually revolves around him. While the main female protagonist is good at driving the storyline forward in a relatively straightforward way and with a good pacing, she will still need the main male protagonist to provide the story to begin with.

Another weakness of this anime is the inherently predictable ending. Actually, being predictable alone is not the reason why the ending really sucks, but more like of what happened in the ending arc. See the white-haired guy referenced in the second paragraph of this section above? Once he shows his true colors in time for the ending arc, he then loses the extremely winnable final battle because of some stupid decision making on his part. I have been screaming ‘Kill that stupid bitch and finish off the wounded hero’ as the main male protagonist V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y F-O-R-G-E-D the katana of doom. I’ve seen some stupid antagonists before, but this white-haired antagonist, with vacuum between his ears, easily ranks up as one of the most incompetent antagonists in anime history. He must make this website a mandatory reading (rule no.6 for example), if he ever come back in a second season.

Character development in this anime is uneven; the main female protagonist, which happens to be the best character in this anime, has the most expansive character development strategies, while the main male protagonist character developments is glacial in comparison. The ending mentioned above was set up for a second season though, although no news about it yet. I want to see an extension, mainly because there are many untapped potential in the general storyline, character developments and settings, plus I also want to see the return of that stooopid antagonist.

The main female protagonist shouldn't have had this katana of doom if the antagonist is not retarded.

Character Design:-
Character design in this anime is good, although maybe the designs are very common for its genre. The main female protagonist stands out for her ordinariness though. Black hairs are rare, but then again this anime is set up in a fictional medieval world.

Voice Acting:-
This anime has done very well in this regard. Voice acting for the 4 main recurring characters are excellent, with the blond helper and the main female protagonist being the outstanding characters in this regard. A positive aspect for this anime.

Meanwhile, this anime totally failed at this section. The OST is sparse and basically unnoticeable, and the OP/ED themes are forgettable.

This anime uses the blurry animation techniques detailed in past anime titles reviewed under this category, in fast-paced battle scenes, therefore one point will be docked from the final evaluation. Apart from that, the animation quality in this anime is good, even in fast-paced scenes. Choreography in action scenes is just ordinary though. The directing in this anime is flawless, assuming that the director doesn’t write that stupid ending in the first place.

6 out of 10.
Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei is safe for another day, very comfortably even. You can see what anime I will review next by looking at the left-sidebar of this blog Facebook page.

I thought Engrish in recent anime titles in the past 2 or 3 years has already been eliminated…

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