Review by rdccdr801

"A look at Reach from an objective Halo fan."

I'm a pretty big fan of the Halo series, and bought Reach right when it came out. Everything seems perfect at first, the menu system works as always, and it seems easy enough to just jump into a game mode. That's good at least. Time to break it all down…

Graphics: The graphics are a bright spot in Halo Reach. The character models are realistic, everything looks very futuristic and shiny, and the weaponry looks excellent. The landscapes are also well detailed, with varied scenery, from lush green trees to picturesque skies and impressive visuals for water. The art design is classic Halo, with a twist. I think it is very well executed, and the realistic elements are there. At the same time, the graphics aren't without their flaws. The lag can be extreme at times. When there are a lot of people shooting, or repetitive explosions, the frame rate can drop dramatically. Lag is inevitable online, but I've even experienced some lag offline in Firefight mode. I'd give the graphics an 8 out of 10, although I would have personally subtracted a few polygons to keep the frame rate crisp.

Audio: Bungie tends to find competent voice actors, and Reach is no exception. The dialog needs work, but I don't think many of us tune in to hear the military banter in the cut scenes. A gun sounds likes a gun, explosions sound like explosions, and the little cues are still there (a certain lift makes a very subtle sound when someone is comes up!). The title music isn't as epic as Halo 3, but at least it wasn't that bad impersonation of Enya that they played for the ODST title screen. Either way, I give the sound a 9/10, if the sound hasn't bothered me yet, I can safely say that it won't at all detract from gameplay experience, even though it hasn't blown my mind yet.

Story: I could go into all the plot details without spoilers, but if you're at all like me, you play the campaign once, and then move on the multiplayer modes. That being said, the story is basically what you'd expect if you've played a Halo game before, with the “working as a team“ twist. To me, a 6 out of 10. I've never been a huge fan of the storyline in Halo, but Reach's campaign storyline is better than average.

Multiplayer/Gameplay: I have an online multiplayer bias. Most of the hours that I have spent playing this game have been in matchmaking, though I did play through the campaign once and saw many others play through it. The online multiplayer is sometimes fun, usually frustrating, and riddled with small and annoying flaws. The new addition in Reach is loadouts, which have been successfully implemented in Halo Reach. There are seven abilities in all, though many of them are never used in the most common games modes. That being said, loadouts completely destroy some game modes, and most of them exacerbate the camping pandemic in online shooters. A Camo user can hide like a complete coward, and a Jetpacker can hide in a high and hard to reach places with a sniper rifle. Even more frustrating is the Sprinter that kills you in a flash with an overpowered weapon, or the Armor Lock user can make you piss and moan as they blow your Ghost to smithereens. I guarantee you will say at some point. "Oh, you armor locking little....". Anyway, back to multiplayer gameplay, the booting system is flawed. There is no reason why one betrayal should get you booted. In a game with at least five explosive weapons, six vehicles that can splatter, and plenty of grenades, the player should not get the option to boot on one betrayal. At the same time, I'm actually glad that there's friendly fire, I find it a little silly when games don't have it, though it had to be turned off on Firefight because gamers can‘t work together. On the positive side is the playlist system, which has many options to choose from. Slayer, SWAT, Big Teams, and Snipers are all there, and there is even a Zombies(!) playlist now, with even a few new Living Dead gameplay modes. On top of that, there is the new Invasion mode, which takes a little bit of time to warm up to, but is kind of fun after a few times playing it. There are even Firefight playlists with online support, with modes like Snipers only and Gruntpocalypse. The lag gets bad and people have a devil may care attitude about quitting, but at least you can blow up grunts with an online friend! The weapons are varied, many of the classics are redesigned, and mixed in with the new additions, the arsenal is well rounded, especially for fans of power weapons. The maps could be better, but could be worse. The best one reminds me a lot of the best map in Halo 3, which is both good and bad. There are a lot more maps that are completely wide open, and a lot of rehashes, but a couple of the maps always have competitive contests. Predictably, some maps completely broken on some game modes, especially against opponents that are very familiar with the spawn points and will continue go for the spawn kills. Of course, we all know, with enough game time, knowing the spawns is attainable. Lastly, Reach has a challenge system, which is incredibly well implemented. There are daily and weekly challenges; in fact, there are several daily challenges to do per day. Sometimes, you simply have to kill a certain amount of people in online matchmaking, or get a certain amount of double kills in a match, but other times, the challenges actually encourage people to change their gameplay tactics. It also gives the gamer a sense of something to play for, and an easy way to earn new credits for armor. At the same time, there are far too many challenges that are in Campaign and Firefight, and that can be a deterrent if you're not in the mood to play those. I'd give it a 7 out of 10. It's something that can keep me amused for an hour or two, but not something that will suck your life away.

Controls: Halo has the same controls as always. They're pretty solid in general, especially on Default or Recon. Bumper Jumper is declawed in this game, now that crouch jumping is way more important and almost impossible to execute while on that control setting. Green Thumb or Boxer seems designed for Call of Duty players, though I don‘t exactly remember which one lines up with the controls in that series. Vehicles are a little easier to drive than before, you don't need as direct of a hit for a splatter. Customizability is there, there are different stick and button layouts as always, and there are no glaring flaws. 9 out of 10.

Replay Value: High, considering the challenges, improving your Arena ranking, and collecting armor will keep your pretty interested. I played the game for three solid months before getting bored of it, and most of my friends were interested in this game for about the same amount of time. If you like Halo, you'll like this game, but I'm not sure if it'll win over any new converts.

Score: 7/10.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/03/11

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

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