Wow, what a long and awesome ride it has been. Halo: Reachmarks the last game (supposedly) to be made by Bungie. While they aren’t ending on a true sequel to the first Halo: Combat evolved, their swan song is mighty fine and a fitting one. Let me start out by saying that this game took me by surprise. After Halo 3came out there were rumors of Halo projects that were finally nailed down to two more games before Bungie was out. They were both supposed to be side missions or spin-offs and not true sequels. After ODST, a game that was basically a really overpriced expansion pack, I didn’t think that Reach would be much different. Holy crap, was I wrong. This is a full fledged game in it’s own right in many ways.
I must also say that I realize that Halo is not for everyone. There’s just something about it that repels people that a game like Modern Warfare doesn’t have. I think the more sci-fi a property gets, the more you have the normies dropping out. So would this game convert anyone? Well if you don’t like Halo and you aren’t sucked in by the amazing multi-player experience, this isn’t for you.
Halo: Reach plays out like your standard Halo game. There’s shooting, moving forward, pushing a few buttons, and then moving forward. Then there’s some vehicle missions to break it up a bit. If you like Halo, there’s just enough different to give you what you’ve been wanting. There’s enough new things in there thrown in to make you happy, but not enough to make it feel like an entirely different experience.
So what makes this game better than ODST? And why am I so happy with it? Well there’s a lot of things, but one nitpick I had in particular about Halo and game especially ODST was addressed. Here’s what I said in my first impressions of ODST:
My biggest gripe is kind of an odd one, though. As a advanced soldier of the future walking around in a densely populated warzone you’d think I’d come across a lot of dead civilians. I’d also expect to come across some living civilians as well. While games have advanced quite a bit, I think the designers are really missing on something here. No, I’m not looking to kill civies or see dead kids everywhere, I just think that it might make war seem a hell of a lot less glamorous if we saw some non-military casualties and might make the goal of “winning” all that more important.
And guess what? They fixed that. There’s civvies. Finally, the battle zone is like a real war zone. There’s actual casualties and survivors. Good one, Bungie!
There’s also lots of small details in this sucker to love. One is that your character in the cut scenes is wearing the armor you picked in game. That’s just classy. There’s also drivable forklifts. Why? No reason, you can just drive them if you want to get killed on them. It’s also nice to see varied human structures, like ones made out of wood.
The newest addition to Halo is the space based combat level. While I was looking forward it it and it was pretty well put together, it was fairly simple. Still, if they made a Halo space shooter, I’d be all about it.
The story itself is rather simple. Basically, it’s an excuse to move from one battle to the next. That’s okay though, since I already knew that the planet Reach was boned. I hadn’t expected much besides a servicable story that would allow you to play a game and that’s exactly what I got.
One great thing about the story taking place before the first game is that there’s no Flood. The Flood are the plant/zombie things that you battle in every other Halo game. I dislike the Flood. Not only because the Flood introduced a really dumb element to the story of Halo with the big plant thing that talks in riddles, but because they took away from the parts I really liked, the straight up, sci-fi battles with the Covenant.
I have the feeling that the graphics have been pushed to the limit of what the Xbox 360 are capable. That would account for some of the frame rate problems that I’ve experienced. It’s like Halo 2 when the 3d models would appear in a bit low rez and then the texture would suddenly overlay the models. Worse yet is when the screen freezes and I experience incredible lag on co-op. I haven’t had this problem on any other game with the same consistency, so I’m blaming the game.
The multi-player options on Reachare perhaps some of the most diverse of any of the Halo games, thanks to the combination of play modes from all of them. You’ve got co-op campaign, Firefight, objective based missions, team based games, and good old fashioned multiplayer death matches.
My favorite modes are co-op ones and they’re handled just as well as they have been in the past. Firefight seems to be a bit more robust, so it doesn’t grow as stale as it did on ODST.
Honestly, I haven’t played a whole lot of regular multiplayer, except for team doubles. It doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot different , so if you like Halo multiplayer you won’t be disappointed. One thing that I haven’t seen is a number ranking for most modes. If this is true, thank Crom. I hated Halo’s ranking system that was nearly impossible to level and all to easy to lose a level.
Reach is one of the best Halo games of them all and it’s pretty amazing considering that it’s really just a side project. Bungie really pulled out the stops on this one and it shows. If you don’t have Live, then it might not be worth the money.