Review by sonofkorol

""A monument to all your sins..." *small spoilers*"

Intro... “An honor serving”

In 2001 Bungie undertook one of the most formidable challenges in the video game industry: make a blockbuster series. With the launch of "Halo: Combat Evolved" they began a trip of epic proportions that took the hero of the series, the Master Chief, hopping around the galaxy fighting the alien threat known as the Covenant while trying to stop the alien parasites, the Flood. Though the trilogy technically ended with Halo 3, Bungie knew they had one last thing to do. Make the game everyone would be talking about for decades. And so they planned Halo: Reach. The game takes place before "Halo: Combat Evolved" and, as prequel, rounds up the loose ends created by the Halo trilogy. Into the mix of the story they had been planning since the beginning, they decided to put in everything the fans wanted. Every multiplayer and co-operative game mode was to be there, a culmination of all things Halo. This truly was to be, as many critics say, Bungie's swansong. Their last hurrah. And boy, did they deliver. Hopefully this review will help explain why Halo: Reach is everything any first-person-shooter fan could possibly want, and more.

Story: 10/10... “Folks need heroes”

Unlike some FPS games, Reach truly gets you involved in the story. You are the new guy on an elite team of Spartan super soldiers known as Noble Team. Your goal is to investigate why things start to be going to hell on the Earth-ish human world of, you guessed it, Reach.

Once you discover the Covenant are on Reach, things spiral out of control, sending not only your playable character, but the entire team, into turmoil. The campaign takes you from the ground to skyscrapers to the sky into ships and even into space. Gone are the days of running from point A to point B, and here are the days of completing missions that vary in methods, enemies, and tactics. The world is truly the FPS fans' oyster as you run, shoot, drive, and fly your way into history to defend the human race from the Covenant.

Along the way you'll be on the edge of your seat, laughing, gritting your teeth... Hell you might even tear up a little. This is truly the emotional thrill ride every FPS game should be, and it all begins with the game's absolutely stunningly woven story.

Gameplay: 10/10... “If they came to hear me beg”

This game plays like all of the other games, but new editions take this game past awesome into the realm of epicness.

First of all, you get to assassinate stuff. Not just hitting them in the back of the head. Oh no. Now if you hold the melee button behind a Spartan or a Covenant, the camera pans out and you get to see a full animation of you making your enemy die. Snapping their neck, stabbing them... It's all there in perfect detail. It's brilliant!

Second, there's all the new ordinance. New vehicles like the Falcon helicopter/plane hybrid, the Rocket-Hog, and the Covenant Revenant mini-tank. You also get handheld toys like the DMR (designated marksman rifle), the Target Locator (calls down an orbital strike on a designated area, or the Needle Rifle (Needler + DMR). THere's tons more, but I think you get the idea. There's lots of new guns and gear. And it's all absolutely awesome.

Finally come the armor abilities. In campaign you can pick up armor abilities that make your Spartan have a special ability: sprinting, active camo, armor lock (like a crazy shield that can also emit an EMP), jetpack, hologram (makes a clone of yourself that goes where you tell it), medic shield (temporary bubble shield that also heals you), and the Elite-only Evade. In multiplayer, when you respawn, you get to choose a loadout (covered later) with the ability you want in it. Knowing when and where to use which abilities is one of the major skills you need to learn to be a great player in Reach.

Multiplayer: 10/10... “Game, set, match”

Here is where the game shines. Sure there are some common playlists from Halo 3 missing (for now) such as SWAT (at least as it's own playlist), but we get Team Slayer and Big Team Battle and Capture the Flag, all that good stuff! No need to go on much further because really, you all know what's going to be there.

Into the mix also comes the return of Firefight from Halo ODST, where a team of Spartans staves of wave after wave of Covenant for as long as humanly possible. Each wave gets more and more difficult, and you only have so many lives and health packs to keep you vertical. Truly the challenge of all challenges.

We also get the new Invasion mode. In simple terms, one team defends and one attacks at a time in a three-stage round. The attacking team has to capture control points from the defenders to score a point and get a vehicle/weapon drop to advance to the second phase. The second phase requires pushing deeper into enemy territory and capturing two more control points. If they get this far, the attackers get a heavy ordinance drop that gives them a Scorpion tank or a Falcon to play with, because they'll need it. Their goal is now to push into the heart of the defender's base to capture a power core, then get out and all the way to a drop off point with the core to win the round. Each phase also adds more loadouts which the player selects to give them a certain armor ability along with weapons to go with it, which get better each phase.

Custom Games are of course in Reach, so you can get all your friends together to do whatever the heck you want to do. Use your imagination. That's what Custom Games are all about.

The multiplayer in Halo Reach really is what everyone will be talking about for ages. It is epic. Beyond epic. It is pretty much the definition of FPS multiplayer.

Graphics: 10/10... "Keep it clean"

This game is stunningly detailed. Inside houses there are breakable bottles, mini propane tanks to blow up, clothes on the ground, it's all there. And for the first time there is indigenous wildlife! There's bizarre animals (both friendly and not so friendly) that you will encounter during the campaign. In one of the multiplayer maps there's even koi in a pond that swim around (and you can shoot and kill).

The explosions are amazing, the cinematics are jaw-dropping... This game is a feast for the eyes, especially in high-definition. It's just staggering how awesome this game looks. You can't really explain it. You just have to experience it.

Sound: 10/10... “Send me out... With a bang”

Marty O'Donnell is back to give the soundtrack of all soundtracks. Guitar riffs, piano scores, a full orchestra, booming drums... It's all there to set the tone for every level in the game. It truly sets the mood for every part of the story of the game and keeps you hooked. It is honestly one of the best soundtracks I've ever heard.

The sound effects are brilliant too, from reloading guns to explosions, to the armor abilities. One of the best ways to tell if an enemy is by you in multiplayer is to hear them breathing heavily while sprinting. Now THAT'S detail.

The voice acting is brilliant, using less known voice actors so that it's more believable a story. Even the Covenant sound awesome, their incoherent ramblings eery and just plain awesome.

Of course the epic announcer is back too to yell “DOUBLE KILL” and “SLAYER” and new stuff like “CORE CAPTURED.”

Not really much else to say about sound. It's awesome, let's just leave it at that.

Extras: 10/10... “Wake up buttercup”

Armory! OMG the Armory. In the armory players can use credits earned in campaign and multiplayer to purchase the armor of their dreams. Helmets, shoulders, chest pieces, knee guards, visor colors, even armor effects like engulfing your head in lightning. Along with customizing your player's emblem and armor colors, you can also buy firefight voices that include all of Noble Team as well as the extremely expensive voices of Cortana, Sergeant Johnson, and even the Master Chief himself.

The easter eggs are outstanding in this game. There's funny ones like the Covenant dance party of Grunts and Brutes, and downright fun ones like “Reach Racer,” a hidden racing mini game. Who knows what else people wil find. It looks like there's all sorts of hidden stuff in the game.

Also there is Forge mode making it's return from Halo 3, where the creative can build their own maps, including in the epicly massive Forge World. In this particularly map there is a ton of different terrains as well as hundreds of objects, weapons, vehicles, scenery, and all sorts of other fun stuff to make the map of your dreams. Sure, it takes a long time to make an awesome map, but it really is worth the effort.

Bungie really gave us more than just an awesome game. They really are giving Halo fans a game to thank them for being their for the whole trip.

Bonuses for the dedicated: 10/10... “Lucky me”

I bought the Legendary Edition. I camped that line and saw people dressed in full UNSC Marine garb with the most epic weapon props ever, one guy aiming a stunningly detailed rocket launcher at a car with its alarm going off. And boy was it worth it.

The Limited Edition came with an extra piece of armor for Elites, a journal that ties up even more loose ends in the story, and all sorts of other goodies like a Spartan II embroidered patch.

The Legendary Edition also came with a massive statue of Noble Team (*drool*), more extra content, videos on the making of reach, even MORE content, and the fantastic armor effect that gives you a flaming helmet. I don't recommend you use it in a Sniper or SWAT game, but hey, it's awesome!

Also, there was al sorts of pre-order and first-day bonuses such as extra armor like the coveted Recon helmet, to posters, to Reach beanies and baseball caps, and even an inflatable energy sword.

All in all Bungie made sure that dedicated fans got rewarded for loving their games so much.

Conclusion: 10/10... “Blaze of Glory”

This game raises the bar so high it's unbelievable. I'd hate to be the FPS that tries to take down Reach. Bungie is bringing out new playlists soon and all sorts of new stuff to make the game even more amazing. That really says how dedicated they are to the Halo series and its fans.

Sure, Bungie is done making Halo games, the series passed to another developer. But they left the game that is the culmination of their efforts. Everything they have created has been put together and polished into a game that is simply amazing. It's sad that this may be the end, but really, if you leave one of the best games ever as your last game, who cares? We'll all be playing this for many years to come anyways.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 09/22/10

Game Release: Halo: Reach (Legendary Edition) (US, 09/14/10)


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