Review by Raganork10

"Fix a few things here and there, give it a new name, slap a full-price price tag on it, and you get Halo: Reach"

Let me be blunt for a second: This is Halo 3. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, before you start shouting expletives at me, allow me to explain myself.

I suppose I'll get the worst out of the way now. If you were expecting some revolutionary gameplay changes from Halo 3, then you are out of luck here. This is basically the exact same gameplay from Halo 3. Yeah, there are a few new additions here and there. There are power ups (or Armor Abilities) now, and not just over-shields and active camouflage. There's the Jet Pack, Armor Lock, Drop Shield, Hologram, and Sprint. Um, I didn't know that sprinting was a special ability that you have to collect, since nearly every single First Person Shooter utilizes the sprint feature without the characters having to collect a "Sprint" power up. But hey, this series is finally catching on to the fact that sprinting is, in fact, possible in real life!

There are also a few new weapons such as the Needle Rifle (which is just a strong Needler that isn't fully automatic), the Grenade Launcher (because throwing regular grenades isn't good enough), and a Golf Club (which is, in all seriousness, the strongest weapon in the game's universe, capable of instantly killing anyone).

Fortunately, this game did improve a bit from Halo 3. The A.I. is not nearly as awful as it was before. Enemies tend to spread out and dodge grenades. That's not to say that the A.I. is perfect, because it's not. There are times when 4 or 5 enemies will stand still waiting for you to kill them. Also, if your partners were not invincible, they would probably die in a matter of seconds since they literally stand right in the middle of a war zone, getting shot at from all sides, yet they somehow manage to survive.

The levels in this game are, thankfully, a little more diverse than Halo 3's. There is a space level, a level where there is only a little bit of gravity, and a level in which you fly from building to building to kill Covenant troops. Now, don't misinterpret what I just said. I said that the levels are varied. The missions, unfortunately, are not. In nearly every level, you go from point A to point B. If not, then you're defending a specific area. If not, then you're clearing out an area full of bad guys. That's it. There is only one moment when the game tries to be different, and that is the space level when you're destroying enemy ships. In that level, I realized that this game had true potential. Bungie could have experiment more with diversifying the levels and they would have had a much better game. Unfortunately, the phrase "If it aint broke, don't fix it" gets tossed around a lot these days. Just because something works, does not mean that the creators should not be innovative. You can still have an amazing game, just be more creative when designing it.

Now, none of what I just said would matter to you if your sole desire for wanting to buy this game is for the Multiplayer mode. After all, that is the mode that this game's creators focused on the most. Granted, there are a wide assortment of multiplayer modes to play in, and there is a level-up system. But somehow, Bungie managed to neglect everything they did wrong with Halo 3, and they brought back all the annoyances.

First, the booting system is back, and just as horrible as ever. You'll chuck a grenade at an enemy, and a teammate might jump into the line of fire and could die from the grenade. A simple accident. In any other game, this would not be an issue since there is no friendly fire. In this game, that player might very well boot you from the match. I understand if Bungie incorporated friendly fire to make people be more strategic, but there is no avoiding idiots that decided to jump in front of your Warthog so they can boot you from the match, just for fun.

Then there's the whole dropping out of a match issue. You know, when you get paired with a huge clan, and then they quit, and then the game turns into a battle of staying alive. Bungie didn't fix that. The matchmaking system will not place you into an on-going match because...that feature is not in this game.

Lets not forget about the maps. There is a grand total of around 10 multiplayer maps. I heard that some of the maps are remakes from earlier Halo games, but I wouldn't know since I never played the original Halo or Halo 2. But we all know why there is only a few number of maps. It's because Bungie wants to sell the extra maps in a series of bundles for an extra $10 or $15 each, exactly like Halo 3.

Oh, and the online community is just as awful. A message to all parents that want to buy this game for their kids: It's rated M for a reason. Not because of violence, but because no one wants to hear your 11 year old son brag about their level for an entire match in their nasally voice.

Now, the graphics. They are a huge improvement over Halo 3's. I noticed changes in many gun models, which is great. The particle effects are stunning at times. Character models are much better than before. Pretty much every aspect of the game has been given a graphic overhaul. However, this comes at a cost. There is noticeable screen tearing at times, and the game stutters a bit during the larger-scale fights.

The voice acting is, surprisingly, top-notch. The protagonist in this game has been given a voice, and the rest of Team Noble is backed by a strong cast of voice actors. Guns have good sound effects, explosions sound epic, and, of course, the musical score is fantastic. This is the category Bungie always seems to get right. I can't find any complaints here.

Next up is the story. If you played the other Halo games, then you know something is odd about this game when you see a bunch of Spartans fighting side by side. The planet Reach is under attack by Covenant (or alien) forces, and you, a member of Team Noble, must team up with the rest of your squad to protect the planet. It's a dramatic story with an ending you'll see coming, but it's plausible. The main problem I have with the story is that Bungie tried too hard with trying to make the characters likeable. When I hear the word Halo, I think of Master Chief, not Team Noble. In this game, there is a cast of around 6 main characters, and trying to get us to like them all is no easy task. Each character has a distinct personality, but they just don't stick in my memory as much as the silent protagonist from the original Halo Trilogy. I'm not going to dismiss the creators for trying something new, but they could have done better with the writing.

Finally, I'll discuss the few little extras included with this game. There's theater mode, where you can watch replays of matches, and there's Forge mode. Both of these were included in Halo 3, but Forge mode has been tweaked a bit this time around. Physics, thankfully, don't play a big role in Forge mode this time, so you can build your dream level with ease. I, personally, enjoy making race tracks on the bigger levels, which is not something I can say for all First Person Shooters out there. The controls for editing could have been better, but that's just a minor complaint.

I wish I could say that is game is good. That it's addicting. But it's not. The single player campaign is boring, the multiplayer could use a lot of tweaking, and the game just needs a lot more polish. In reality, this game is Halo 3 with a different Story Mode. It seems like Bungie decided to think like Infinity Ward: they think that since their previous game sold sold well, then why change much for their new title. Who's to blame them? They want to make money in the easiest way possible. Don't we all? Unfortunately, that kind of thinking led them to create this game: a copy of Halo 3 in a shinier coat. And that is not a good thing...

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 10/05/10

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