Halo: Reach

You thought we’d forgotten, hadn’t you? You were sitting there thinking ‘WTF? Why hasn’t there been a review of Halo: Reach?’, weren’t you? Were you wondering what we were playing at (not Halo, apparently)? Had we missed it, avoiding it for its sheer scale and popularity?

Well, dear reader, fret no longer. We have played it, but we wanted to give both the campaign and multiplayer modes as much playtime as we could to give you the fairest analysis possible. Apologies for the delay, but we’re sure (we hope) it will be worth it.

So, here it is: the final Halo title to be created by Bungie. It’s been a long road since the original Combat Evolved’s release. Having reinvented the FPS genre and redefined online multiplayer gaming, the series has saturated into the public conscience, gaining millions of fans and creating a cultural icon of Master Chief in the process.
As such, it would only be fair that the final instalment of the series would be the greatest yet (and possibly ever), something for the fans that have supported the developer for the best part of a decade, a fitting swan song that both Bungie and their fans can be proud of.

Documenting the fall of Reach, one of Earth’s most valuable colonies and origin of the SPARTAN super-soldier program, you’re placed into the boots of Noble Six, the latest replacement to Noble Team, as they investigate a possible insurrection on the planet, only to discover the presence of the Covenant, the alien coalition bent on the extermination of the human race. It’s down to this small group of Spartans to attempt to defeat the invaders, saving the entire human race as they do so.

The first thing you’ll notice are the subtle differences between this and previous titles: it’s Halo, Jim, but not as we know it. Elements from previous instalments are easily recognised, such as health bars and the ever-popular original pistol model, mixed in with changes including weapons both old (assault rifles and a variation of the battle rifle) and new (grenade launchers and plasma repeaters). As a result, the gameplay feels familiar but fresh, meaning you’ll acclimatise to the improved control scheme and new gameplay mechanics, such as the new armour abilities, in no time at all. There’s a sojourn into space to dogfight with Covenant spaceships in there somewhere, but thankfully this underwhelming section lasts no longer than half a level.

Also improved this time around is Bungie’s story-telling ability. Whereas ODST was set at ham factor five, focusing on characters it was hard to care about in a somewhat boring story, Reach is a very different beast. With the foregone conclusion of the story damning Noble Team no matter their actions (Reach must fall), the subdued and more realistic performances of each character brings a more grounded and mature tone to the story. It’s not perfect – it’s sometimes hard to keep up with and understand what’s going on – and nothing will rival the frenzied beating of your heart as you came ever closer to retrieving Cortana in Halo 3, but the sense of overwhelming futility Bungie have created results in a storyline to rival the Master Chief’s adventure.

The campaign may be the best Halo story arc yet, but we all know the main reason people love Halo: the multiplayer. Halo online has always been great fun, offering a wealth of game modes and maps with every instalment, but this time it’s all about you.

Yes, you.

From the get-go, you’re offered a good selection of items with which to customise your Spartan, including a variety of helmets and permutations, chest armour, visor colours and much, much more. The fact that your unique Spartan appears in every game mode available, including the Campaign, makes you feel more involved with the action than ever before.
You earn credits for these items by playing the different game modes, with each kill, medal and commendation you receive awarding you credits. Daily and weekly challenges that pay out large amounts of creds change regularly, meaning that you’re always given different and fresh ways to bolster your credit count.

While it’s an interesting system, allowing for unprecedented options of customisation, the amount you receive after each game is conservatively modest, which wouldn’t be so bad if some items didn’t cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of credits to unlock. Some don’t even become available until you’ve reached a certain rank, a feat which requires yet more credits. It’s obviously a deviously implemented mechanic to keep users playing, but some are priced so stupidly high that it would require near constant play to unlock them, meaning that most players won’t see their use before their time with the title has come to an end.

The feeling that accompanies finally purchasing an item you’ve coveted for a while is worth all the effort, though, the motivation driving you to play just one more game. A number of additions, including actual satisfyingly brutal assassinations, a greater number of medals and the aforementioned challenges, only serve to bolster the longevity that Halo: Reach offers. As a result, not only is it Bungie’s final Halo title, it’s also their greatest.







8 responses to “Halo: Reach”

  1. DelTorroElSorrow avatar

    I disagree about the characters. They were a bunch of cliche’d space marines and Bungie only succeeded in making me like one of them (Jorge).

    Then they killed him FIRST and left me hanging out with a bunch of emotionally dead serial slaughterers with less personality than a braindead mongoose.

    I’ve loved every Halo campaign so far, but Reach was a collossal fail in this arena. Good thing it has kick-ass multiplayer…

  2. Mark P avatar

    I thought everything up to the space mission was boring. Everything after that was pretty good though.

  3. Barry avatar

    I’d never had gone as far as to say that Halo reinvented the FPS genre, what it succeeded at was bringing the XBox a very decent shooter and the gaming icon it needed.

  4. Barry avatar

    Good review anyway darling x

  5. DelTorroElSorrow avatar

    From my memory of console FPS before Halo, it really did reinvent the genre. In relation to controls and the way it plays it showed people how to do it.

  6. Gobbleguts McWobbleboots avatar
    Gobbleguts McWobbleboots

    Goldeneye on the N64 is well better than this tripe.

  7. Paola Dawdy avatar

    I value the article.Much thanks again. Will read on…

  8. sema avatar

    aren’t gonna take the servers down audbmss. Bungie can’t even do that. Microsoft can, but they won’t until the next generation of consoles, when they will shut down Xbox Live for the 360 (which they might never do). The only thing Bungie can do is take down Bungie.net support for Halo 3, so you couldn’t track your Halo 3 stats, but it unlikely they will do that until years from now. Hell, 343 Industries might track it then, so don’t worry about that.

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