Review by DandyQuackShot
"Spartans Never Die, They Just Go MIA"
One whole decade of Bungie world domination with the Halo franchise ends (hopefully) with the prequel to the whole series in Halo: Reach. The one thing Halo will be ultimately remembered for will not be its story of how the entire galaxy was rescued by a lone Spartan who remains a faceless hero, but the coming together of the world onto one playground called Xbox Live to smash, stick, and snipe its way to glory. The only problem was that this was mastered in the Halo series four games ago.
Halo: Reach finishes the storyline of the Halo plot with a few more questions answered and plenty of epic moments in the fall of humanity's distant world colony. With the single player campaign to complete you also see a re-hash of the multiplayer and firefight modes. The beta version of the multiplayer sent an early signal that there would be no new surprises with the multiplayer beyond what was already included but the additions from the Halo 3 multiplayer include the use of special abilities for the Spartans and Elites such as jet packs and finally the ability to run. If you ever wanted to compare your skills to the rest of the world, a new playlist allows you to compete online to make rank in a division over a certain period of time.
The Fall of Reach
While the story is obvious with the annihilation of the human colony world Reach and the loss of the Spartans, there is one plot piece that gets put in place. Sadly there is nothing in this game that tells you anymore on Master Chief but gladly you do play as one of the last surviving Spartans on Reach where you make your weigh as a member of Noble Team to try to repulse the Covenant invasion. Starting the campaign allows you to custom create your own Spartan hero with options all over the board from armor to voice and insignia designs.
Of course if you have played one Halo campaign you have played them all as you battle through squad after squad of grunts and elites and on a cooperative the dropships won't be able to keep up with multiple Spartans on hand. Not part of Halo: Reach are the Flood, but everybody else is in it along with a few new weapons and vehicles. This is the first time you get to fight in a Star Wars-like battle in space as well as try out a heavy cannon on the back of a Warthog. The weapons I didn't really think worked for this game compared to how spoiled the previous games made me. Dual wielding is out, but most of the classic weapons survive such as the human sniper rifle and rocket launcher and the plasma pistol and needler. Everything else is either modified or completely overhauled or brand new.
The campaign is long enough but there are not too many memorable missions and definitely not any memorable characters. Some background for the new Spartans would maybe have helped but they end up like the ODST characters that just do not match up to the likes of the characters in Halo 1, 2, and 3.
Fun with Firefight and Online
Everything you loved about Halo 3's matchmaking and ODST's firefight is back and better. I missed out with getting in on the first season of playing Arena but you can enter the Arena playlist and compete to find your place in a division of other competitive Halo players. The old playlists are available with new game types that make things more interesting. Invasion and Team Headhunter make playing Big Team Battle and other playlists with more than four players much more enjoyable than before.
Firefight also has some improvements with customizable settings to give your survival a needed boost. Here you can customize the settings to make yourself jump higher and knock out Wraiths with one melee attack while gaining credits along the way. Speaking of credits, this is how you get to acquire new features for your character so you can purchase armor and upgrades instead of having to play or compete to a certain level in order to unlock anything. This works a lot better for new players who want to show off their "hard-earned" stuff.
Forge and theater are still around as well to continue the community aspect of Halo. This is excellent for group players and friends but it's nothing new as far as making a fourth game FPS game in a series goes.
Halo: Reach's soundtrack is amazing and probably is what carries the campaign of the game. There are some real epic moments during the cinematics, which I felt replaced other vital things of the story but not a lot of explanation is needed for a prequel. Think of this game as Star Wars: Episode Three. One thing that did catch my eye on the graphics was the movements of the elites and the wildlife of Reach. The elites seem to moonwalk wherever they go. Yeah, these guys are fast, but for some reason they seem to slide along until they dive for cover. The wildlife seemed also to do the same thing as if they weren't exactly connected to the ground beneath them.
As with all Halo games, Halo: Reach should have a very long run online. It will be this year's later competition that will probably have a major impact on the amount of players online but you will definitely never have to worry about there being no one online to play multiplayer. The replay value for all modes of Halo: Reach is incredible as always with plenty to do in both campaign and multiplayer modes. Achievement points are always fun to go for as well and much easier with the help of a friend or friends. There are plenty of avid fans of Halo, and most own an Xbox because of this series so as long as the 360 lasts this game will too.
Final Recommendation 8/10
In Halo: Combat Evolved, I found my love of first person shooters rekindled. In Halo 2, the dream of one day being able to compete against others beyond the split screen came true. In Halo 3, I could watch some of my most glorious games of victory or take a picture of my craziest death-defying (or causing) stunt. With Halo: Reach I experienced all the same things, but nothing new. This is not to say that Halo: Reach is a mediocre game. By no means could another series or game match what was put into this game. Yeah there are different multiplayer games out there and the Call of Duty series definitely has the edge on realistic multiplayer combat, but Halo: Reach is only average because it is recycled game play with a few additional features to make the multiplayer more competitive and enjoyable. This is definitely a full price game and it would be real fun to find out how long it takes to play the marathon of all of the campaigns of each game in order. Halo has reached its end, but no other console first person shooter series could ever match what Halo did for the genre.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/27/10
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