Review by Galactus21

"Bungie's culmination of nearly 10 years of hard work"

Nearly a decade ago, Bungie released Halo: Combat Evolved to much fanfare. The first Halo brought to Microsoft and its Xbox brand something they needed. As a new player in the game, Halo made Microsoft competitive in the market. Much of the Xbox's initial and continued success is due to the Halo series. The series has brought about a phenomenon. It has spun multiple games in the series, venture into different genres, and even books covering its deep universe. Halo Reach, Bungie's latest Halo game, is a culmination of all the hard work that has lasted nearly a decade.

Halo Reach is a prequel to the original Halo. It follows a team of Spartans called Noble Team. Reach deviates a bit from the main Halo series, as Masterchief isn't the main protagonist. You play as Noble 6, a quiet and deadly killer. When the game kicks off, Noble team is quickly called into action. As Noble mobilizes, they quickly learn that it isn't the local rebels stirring up the trouble. It's something much worse. Halo veterans will quickly recognize the familiar foes. The Covenant – a powerful group of aliens - have landed on Reach and epic battles begins immediately.

Last Man Standing

Halo Reach's game play is the culmination of Bungie's fine tuning over the last 10 years. Previous Halo games played well. Reach provided all the good things about previous incarnations and took it to another level. The pacing felt fantastic. The enemy variety was great. The amount of weapons at your disposal made the game fun throughout. As you play through the game, elements definitely feel Halo like, but it also feels much improved.

The level design was fantastic. Firefights were mixed up with team based action and solo action. In between, Bungie did a great job of mixing in vehicles. Now the controls for the vehicles, while much improved over the course of the series, still have some rather sluggish controls. On top of that, the computer A.I. doesn't fair better either. This minor flaw isn't too detrimental to Halo Reach however, as the controls for the rest of the game were fluid and smooth.

One particular level stood out. The “Star Fox” like level, allowed players to control a fighter and mow down Covenant ships. This level was one of the many highlights in the game. Other nice little touches added to the overall feel of the Halo series, without infringing on all the elements that people have come to love. Players can sneak up on an Elite, and with a beautifully animated attack, the Spartan puts a dagger through the Elite. Other things including “ordinance” such as jet packs, sprints, and armor bring depth to the combat.

The action throughout the game was nicely paced. Groups of enemies always provided intense combat. The enemy also does a fantastic job at dodging your fire, especially the Elites. The Elites do a superb job of moving out of the way, forcing you to adjust to their defensive prowess. Reach also does a great job of building up its epic battles. The involving story along with battles building up to battles that left you on the edge of your seat made this experience a memorable one.

More importantly, Halo Reach just has it. It's hard to describe. Halo 2 was fun, but it did not have it. It's like watching sports players who can perform under pressure situation because they have that killer instinct. Halo Reach has that. From the moment I booted up the game to the bitter sweet ending of Halo Reach's masterful campaign, it had an atmosphere, an intensity, and a sense of cohesion that bonded everything together into one unforgettable adventure. Bungie in essence took all the great things about the Halo series, stripped out the bad things, and put some kick butt new things and bam Halo Reach was created.

Plays the Halo chorus…

Like previous Halo games, Reach's musical soundtrack doesn't fall short. Memorable tracks that provide a build up as you venture towards battle to the more melodic sounds as battle halts momentarily. The cast of voice actors within the game did a superb job emphasizing the situations. Noble 6, while mostly quiet, was supplanted by his supporting cast when it came to voice acting. This wasn't always a bad thing, as other members of Noble presented were voiced well. To top things off, the background sounds such as the Covenant screaming battle instructions to each other made things all the better.

While Halo's graphics aren't mind blowing like some other games out these days, Halo still looks quite good. The character models were highly detailed. The explosions looked great. The in game physics sucked you into the Halo world. In game animation was also done well, as it made the experience more surreal. Cut scenes for the most part looked quite good too.

The bread and butter of all Halo games have always been its multiplayer, whether it's with friends or through Xbox Live. While I no longer have Xbox Live, playing Reach with friends is quite an enjoyable experience. Hanging back and shooting each other while we talk smack to each other will always bring good times. The multiplayer aspect of Reach, like all Halo games, is what keeps Reach's value up. It gives it value that most games just don't have. This is on top of Halo Reach's fairly long and involving campaign.

Halo be thy name

The original Halo made an impact on the industry. It provided us with the first amazing first person shooter of that generation much akin to Goldeneye previously. It can also be attributed that Halo had a lot to do with the first person shooter craze that we still see today. Halo Reach won't make the same impact on the industry. It doesn't do anything innovative. Halo Reach may not have the best game play mechanics when it comes to shooters, but I will argue that Halo Reach is able to blend all the shooter elements that we hold dear cohesively and provide an experience that's unrivaled this generation. Make no mistake about it; Halo Reach is all that Halo fans could have hoped for. The game flows so well that even naysayers from the past may find tremendous value in Reach's intense adventure.

The mishmash of intensity and complexity, easily made Reach the most gratifying Halo experience yet. And that is what Halo Reach was…an experience. It wasn't merely a game where you ran around and blow things up. It was more than that. This was before the enemy had a face. This was when the Covenant was still a mysterious and cold hearted foe who didn't hesitate to kill you. This was with us knowing that the fate of Reach was that of a hopeless one, but watching the Spartans and human society struggle and fight for every inch of land made the experience that much more satisfying. Halo Reach's experience is an accumulation of Bungie's hard work on the series. That is something I cannot reemphasize enough. If you have an Xbox 360, then you owe it to yourself to pick this game up – even if you're not a Halo fan.

Gameplay - 9.5/10
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9.5/10
Value - 10/10
Overall - 9.6/10

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 10/22/10

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

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