Halo: Reach Review

15 Sep 2010  by   Paul Younger
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“Remember Reach” who can forget those two words that have been used for the tagline across the world. With this being Bungie’s last foray into the Halo universe the subtitle should read “Remember Bungie” because after you’ve finished Reach your going to wonder whether anyone is going to create another Halo title as good as this.
Set as a prequel to the previous three titles (ODST is really a full blown expansion of 3), Reach puts you in the role of Noble 6 the newest member of Noble Squad. Along with the other five members of Noble Squad you uncover the fate of Planet Reach and while the majority of you Halo fans will already know the events that unfold on Reach, I’m not going to spoil the story for you newbie’s out there experiencing Halo for the first time.
But for those expecting the story to pan out exactly as it’s intended you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Certain events throughout the narrative gives you the feeling that the overall plot might change by the end, but the fact is they are merely twists until the inevitable finale.
As Xbox owners have grown accustomed to when it comes to Halo games the storyline and CGI sequence are breathtaking with Martin O’Donnell deserving the plaudits once again for the phenomenal musical score to set the mood no matter what has just occurred on screen.
Throughout the campaign you’re going to be teaming with each member of the Noble squad including my personal favourite, Juan, as you both must infiltrate a Covenant stronghold with pistols, snipers and stealth. But how can you stealth in a Halo game I hear you ask?
Well this is a part of the new armour mods which give your Spartan special powers, think the pick-ups from Halo 3 and you’re almost there. You’ve got a variety of add-ons that can be switched between at selected times in a mission including the handy jet-pack, active camo and the ability to sprint. There are some useless ones too, the armour lock for example just prolongs the amount of time between your inevitable death.
While Bungie adds the armour abilities it doesn’t stop there with the game receiving a whole new bunch of weaponry to master against the Covenant and other 360 players in online mode. The Needle Rifle makes its bow into the Halo game creating the power of a needler in the form of a sniper rifle, you’re going to have to time your shots what with the delayed explosion of the needles but if you can master it then the results are devastating.
Other additions include the Grenade Launcher, The Plasm Launcher and the devastating artillery. This can be called in using a laser designator where you will need to focus on a specific location before unleashing hell on the selected area. This can prove extremely useful when taking on numerous tanks or you have a rather difficult wave of enemies coming in firefight but more on that mode later.
The game can suffer from the odd framerate drop in Campaign mode but very rarely and they only occur for a couple of seconds. Really they are not very noticeable as you plough your way through the next Covenant wave heading for your direction but for the nitpicky bunch around you will notice the slow down at certain points in the campaign.
The main campaign for Reach feels a lot like a best of collection from the trilogy, as I already mentioned there is the sniper mission, you’re going to be destroying everything in your path as you rumble down the battlefield in a Scorpion Tank and not to mention plant a bomb and escape from the Covenant ship. But Bungie has still managed to create a fresh feel with each of the missions and while you might get that ‘been there, done that’ feel there is still enough new content to keep you occupied for the 10 hours of campaign madness.
One of the brand new sections of the campaign is the much publicised space combat section. The air battles are very accomplished but despite the amount of coverage they got before release the sequences are only a minor part of the considerable foot-based combat. Controls for the spaceships are fluid and the battles as like any other battle in Halo are Epic.
As you progress through the campaign and multiplayer you’re going to notice the abundance of credits you earn as you accomplish certain objectives and challenges. These can be spent in the Armory section where you can kit out your very own Spartan to your own specific looks. As you upgrade your Spartan you will see the changes in the campaign as your customised Noble 6 will be playable in the game. This makes it a hugely addictive feature as you try out different armour sets and additions to make your Spartan the most imaginative out there. Not only can you earn the credits through single player but as expected you will also earn them as you progress through the multiplayer mode.
I was toying with the idea of doing a completely separate multiplayer review, especially with the online content being a staple of a Halo game but by now you should know what to expect. Team Slayer, Rumble Pit, Red v Blue, Capture the Flag, they all return, along with some brand new concepts that make the online modes of Halo once again another contender for the Xbox LIVE crown.
When playing a game such as Team Slayer you will then have the option to select from three different game modes and maps. These can vary from traditional Slayer all the way to SWAT (rifles and pistols with no shields) the mode which receives the most amount of votes will be played but if there isn’t anything that anyone can decide on then there is always the option to vote for a refresh of game options. It’s a nice touch and rather than just sitting in the same game modes it gives players a variety as they spend a couple of hours online.
The ever popular Firefight game mode returns allowing you and friends to battle against oncoming waves of Covenant. However the amount of options and customisation possibilities for this mode makes it feel like a brand new game mode which has never seen the light of day for a Halo title before. As is the norm with various shooters now the Wave survival game results in tougher enemies assaulting your position as the battle intensifies and really creates some real dramatic moments as you and your team try to take out the wave of Hunters heading straight towards your position. Oh and you can also play against other humans now too.
Bungie has left its mark on the Halo legacy and while the guys at 343 Industries will continue to bring Xbox fans the Halo series for me the franchise is ended with Reach. There wasn’t a doubt that Bungie was going to pull out all the stops for its last Halo game and the developer bows out in undeniable style. A must buy for any Xbox 360 owner.

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