Review by JustThink1st

"Definitive, Objective Review of Halo:Reach"

This review is an attempt to give anyone on the fence about purchasing Halo:Reach the information they may need to make their decision. It is an objective breaking down of the features contained within the game and the strengths and weaknesses the game has. Anyone who loves Halo already has Reach and anyone who hates Halo would never even consider buying it. This is for that looked over demographic of people who need to know what they are getting into before dropping $60.

Overview:

Halo:Reach is the sixth game among the Halo franchise, though it takes place before the main storyline started in Halo: Combat Evolved for the PC and XBox. Halo:Reach is in the first person shooter genre of games (ie: Call of Duty, Killzone, Medal of Honor). The bulk of the content of Halo:Reach centers around competitive online matches, a story mode and a map making feature. Halo is is among one of the harder shooting games to play. The learning curve is very steep as Halo incorporates vehicles, armor perks and weapons thats use is initially awkward. New to the Halo universe, it can be overwhelming to have a Scorpion tank firing at you while jet pack wearing enemies zip around in the sky and fire down at you. If you're playing Halo for the first time, or the first time in a while, keep your expectations that initially you will NOT do well and should focus on learning the mechanics of the game.

Plot (7/10):

Unlike previous Halo games the plot of Reach is very straightforward. You play as part of an elite team of Spartans (the best of the best of the future earths soldiers). You and your squadmates are stationed on the planet Reach, humans most important stronghold with the exception of Earth. A conglomeration of alien species known as the Covenant comes across Reach, and due to their goals mainly being acquisition of Forerunner artifacts and the extermination of all life in the universe, wage an intense war with the humans on Reach. You are at the forefront of that war, as you and your teammates are among the few who can stand toe to toe with the alien forces. You are the new member of Noble squad and work with them in a variety of missions intended to stave off these foes. The plot scores as it does because the game is well written and does a good job of drawing you in, however the hopelessness of the inevitable ending makes much of what you do seem rather futile. This adds an unwanted disconnect to the game since normally you know if you play well and beat the game the "good guys" will win at the end and you'll have saved the world/princess/childrens hospital. In Halo: Reach you feel drawn to the characters and their mission but cannot ever come to truly become invested in their struggle.

Graphics (9/10):

The graphics in Halo are a staple to its legacy. Everything in Halo: Reach looks amazing. A distant war in the city on the horizon draws your eye, you feel as if you zoomed in to look closer you would see individual battles playing themselves out. Textures are well rendered and cut-scenes all look very good. The small details are top-notch as well. If you shoot a charging brute on a beach he'll tumble towards you, sand spraying while he flails. Fire fights scorch the walls and destroy debris around them. Halo: Reach only deserves a nine however since it doesn't set a new bar for graphics. There are some odd pop ins during cut scenes and nothing you see will make you forget Uncharted:2 or the few other games that can quite literally take your breath away.

Sound (10/10):

Another staple of the Halo franchise is the sounds and score. The music of Halo: Reach is brilliant. It fits the moods of the game without overpowering what you are doing. The sounds are top notch as well, with every gun, explosion and laser fire sounding credible and distinct. Voice actors are well cast do their jobs with enthusiasm. Again the small details really grab you as the enemies communicate with each other in guttural alien languages and marines yell orders and banter with each other around you.

Gameplay (10/10):

The most important attribute for most people and rightfully so. The game play in Halo: Reach is nothing less then superlative. It goes from easy to jump into the campaign on easy mode to facing a relentless horde of Covenant on legendary difficulty or taking apart a team of good players online. Play is balanced and polished and can lead to action sequences not found in any other game. It would not be unusual to jump into the air and fire at two grunts, your momentum takes you over a small cliff so you assassinate the elite at the base of the cliff in the air to save yourself from fall damage, then a ghost screams towards you to crush you so you jump onto it, throwing the driver to the ground and commandeering his vehicle. This can take place in the space of seconds and situations like this or crazier still are not out of the ordinary at all. And none of these events are scripted or QTEs (quick time events like God of War). They all take place within the gameplay framework that is already laid out.

Online (9/10):

The traditional bread and butter of the Halo universe is it's online component. Many people credit Halo for leading the way for competitive and balanced multiplayer. There are several sub-sets of online. Competitive allows you to play against other people in traditional battles such as deathmatches, capture the flag and territories. Firefight teams you with other players to repel increasingly difficult hordes of aliens. You can also join with friends to work through the campaign co-operatively. There are many, many modes to enjoy depending on your gaming tastes. You can go it alone as a lone wolf against all comers, team up for standard slayer matches or join large groups for objective based combats. There is something for almost everyone and everything is superbly done.

Extras (10/10):

This is without question the most impressive thing about Halo. While almost every game offers a single player campaign and online suite of vs. gameplay, none include so much additional content as Halo. Credits earned in any game mode go toward advancing your rank (which has no impact on gameplay) and can be spent on armor upgrades so you can customize your character to reflect what you like. Unlike most games these cosmetic changes are reflected both in your online character and the character you play in the campaign. Halo: Reach has a video mode where you can watch previous matches. From there you can snap pictures and upload them or the entire video to the Halo online file sharing. Halo: Reach contains an unparalled level creation tool (among consoles and not counting LIttle Big Planet of course) where you can edit your own level, change the base traits of the level and make everything the way you want it. These levels can also be uploaded and shared. Every game mode: campaign, forge and online can be played with friends from your friends list and with up to three other people on the same console. Yes, you can go online with a friend/spouse/child or two or three and all enjoy the same content. Bungie is also among the finest developers for taking care of their community. There was already an enormous update that fixed most major problems, split some match-making lists so players would not be forced to play games they did not like (looking at you SWAT) and a few new game types added. Another update is planned and this is not unusual for Bungie. They listen to the people who buy and play their games an fix things that people do not like. So if you've been burned by a game before that had a glitch that was never fixed or simply never seemed to change, you would be pleasantly surprised by the amount of care Bungie has for it's customers.

Pros:

-Top notch gameplay, music, graphics and options
-Ability to play every game mode with friends online or on the same console
-Constant updates, challanges and new gametypes

Cons:

-Graphics break no new ground
-Plot is pre-determined and rather depressing
-Hard to get involved with online gameplay if you are new to series

Final Score (9/10):

Halo: Reach is as deep and as well made a game as has ever been put out. Attention to detail and the ability to play how and with who you want define every game mode. If you are looking for a game to devote your time to this is a good choice. If you are easily frustrated or don't like the time commitment it may take to get better at this game you should stay away or rent first.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/06/10


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