Review by Claudelol

"They said this day would never come."

Halo has been around for a long time, almost ten years now. You may know it's a Sci-Fi First-Person shooter for Microsoft's Xbox. Hell, you might know it's main characters. But do you really understand it? This game is massive, look at all the books, toys, anime, and machinima. Though for Halo, it's all about the social interaction. Some people go online and wage countless wars; some might turn off the lights and glue themselves to the cinematic storylines, others might even make their own and post it on Youtube. I think this is the most heart felt love letter to the fans you can get from Bungie. They give you the ultimate Halo send off with their last game of the franchise. Prepare to be amazed.

If you know anything about Halo, which I suspect you do, you may realize that Reach is the first planet to get “glassed” which is the equivalent of a planet getting fried underneath a magnifying glass. This game obviously is a prequel, thankfully with that the Covenant seems more Alien and finally stopped speaking English. You also get a lot of throw back weapons as well. Returning favorites so happen to the be the Assault Rifle, which in this incarnation is more accurate and has less of a clip then the original Halo, or Halo 3's. Also returning is the fan favorite pistol. It's a faster variant of the almighty overpowered Combat Evolved version but it still gets the job done.

You may know in the previous Halo games you're playing as the Master Chief, and in the recent Halo: ODST you're playing as the Rookie but in Reach, you're an all new character. Here you aren't playing as the almost indestructible Master Chief or the extra squishy Rookie, you're Noble 5. You're sent as a replacement for a recently expired Spartan on Noble Team. The single-player has more of a focus of you being on a team than say the first 3 Halo's, which was a very fun experience seeing all you're different colored Spartan team-mates and their personalities. Depending on how familiar with the Halo games, the single player will last you anywhere from eight to ten hours if you're playing on Heroic mode. Which is plenty of time to fully explore all of the beautiful environments and master all of the weapons. One of the bigger gripes people have with the Halo franchise is that yes, the environments are absolutely stunning but yet they lack variety. You won't have that problem with Reach. You'll be fighting on open grassy plains, arid battlefields, stealthy missions at night, and even going under ground. You have plenty to play around in. And you can even watch you're campaign shenanigans in Theater mode (along with any other game mode you play in).

One of the big differences from this game and say, Halo 3 is the health system. You're shields are weaker and the health pack system makes a return from Halo: CE and ODST. Actually, there's quite a bit of changes. If you're familiar with the recent Beta over the summer, you might have heard the cries of rage that the fan base had. The most notable difference is that some guns have recoil or as Bungie calls it, bloom. Gone are the days where you can stream out bullets from your Battle Rifle across the map accurately. There's bullet spread, which now you can't just spam on the trigger, you really have to focus and take your time with each shot. It's a nice addition but it wasn't necessary. As you recall from Halo 3, you had equipment. Bubble shields that make an invulnerable dome on the map, a Grav-lift that lifted you to great heights, etc. They're now gone, and replaced with armor abilities. They're basically extra-gadgets for your Spartan to use. You activate them with the right bumper, among them are glorious Jetpacks, a Call of Duty like Sprint, a Armor Lock Ability that you makes you Spartan like wall. Though some of these abilities outshine others, Armor Lock seems to be the most useful. These are all very fun and definitely make the game's pace seem faster.

If you're familiar with the previous Halo game, Halo: ODST you might remember a mode called Firefight that was introduced with it. Like Gears of War 2's Horde mode, players would defend against endless waves of enemy AI, with each wave progressively getting harder. With Reach, you're no longer an ODST but a full-fledged Spartan. You have shields and armor abilities, though it does make it more manageable against foes, they'll eventually catch up to you with each wave and before you know it you're having the fight of your life. As you may know, enemies arrive in dropships, and in droves, snipers appear on ledges and seemingly have an infinite amount of ammunition. It's not easy but it sure is a great time. This mode will keep you coming back.

Another mode you all might be familiar with is Forge. Introduced in Halo 3, Forge is kind of a light map editor. In Halo 3, the community used it very creatively, race maps stole a good portion of my life away. Now in Reach, you're given a huge amount of space to work with, it's impossible to name them all but to you'll be very busy if you're imaginative. With Bungie's excellent commitment to their community I'm sure they're going to release some of the best user generated maps on their matchmaking playlists giving you even more maps. This is one of those things where the more time you put into it the more you're going to get out of it.

In addition to the incredible Campaign, Firefight, and Forge you of course still have the tried and true multiplayer. It's tight and addictive as ever, with the classic CTF, Slayer, and Objective gametypes there's a couple new ones. The first new addition is Head Hunter, where if you die you pop out a skull that the enemy can take and score in a area of the map. This gametype is frantic and fast paced, and if you're good enough you can carry a bunch of skulls and give your team a giant leap of points. Another game mode called Stockpile you have flags littered across the map and you want to grab those flags and put them at your base, once the timer at the bottom goes to zero you score however many flags you have. Of course the enemy can rush your base and grab them for there own accord. The final and most exciting addition to multiplayer was Invasion. One team defends certain objects while the other team attacks. This is basically King of the Hill mixed with Capture the Flag and crack. The farther the attacking team goes the better the weapons that both the defense and offense have available. This was by far the most exciting new mode and I'm sure it will be one of the most played.

It's hard to talk about Halo and not mention the incredible audio Marty O'Donnell puts in the game. The final sequence alone in this game will leave you incredibly touched and completely engaged. The rolling of the drums when you're in a Falcon meeting up with some of your fellow combatants will no doubt make you feel like a complete bad ass. That's just the score, the guns and environments sound astonishing as well. You know you're playing a Halo game when you hear the hissing of plasma bolts flying by you and splattering on the wall, and the growl of the Warthog starting up. The audio never lacks, so it's disappointing when a huge battle is taking place that the frame rate can't keep up.

Halo: Reach will be remembered as Bungie's farewell to the franchise we hold so dear and they definitely gave us some love. The campaign is the best in the franchise to date, the Firefight mode is finally perfected, Forge will keep you busy with your own creations, and the multiplayer is one of the best in the business. From veterans of this series to newbies, this game appeals to all. The Halo franchise might have been getting stale, Bungie's last Halo game will keep it fresh for many years to come.

SCORE: 9.8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/06/11

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

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