Halo: Reach Review
Halo: Reach is the highly anticipated prequel to the Halo trilogy which depicts humanities struggles with the Covenant horde. This game is the final offering from Bungie in the Halo series as the developer has now separated from Microsoft. The events in Reach take place immediately before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved (aka Halo 1) and one of the endings scenes in Reach is an opening scene for Halo: CE.
The first chapter of the game actually involves no game play and is a series of cut scenes introducing you to your squad mates and giving you a little background on your character. You join the Noble team led by Carter (Noble 1), and consisting of the tech-savvy Kat (Noble 2), sniper rifle-wielding Jun (Noble 3), Emile (Noble 4) whose helmet is adorned with a skull, and the enormous Jorge (Noble 5). You are simply an unnamed soldier referred to as Noble 6 who is replacing another soldier who died previously.
Your squad is sent to investigate problems on planet Reach and to quote Meta this is where the proverbial “feces hits the oscillating device.” You find out the Covenant is on Reach and the campaign is essentially a series of missions trying to fight off the invasion. When compared to Halo 3 and its lack of a real storyline, this game really does try to draw you in with an intriguing story and characters that have more depth. Although the ultimate fate of Reach is already known to fans of the series, the game gives you a more detailed view of the actual events and the reasons why the Covenant decided to attack the planet.
Throughout the campaign, the majority of your missions involve trying to sabotage/destroy/etc the Covenant forces that have invaded Reach. Most of your missions you are teamed up with the other Spartans of Noble squad which have the fantastic ability to not die during combat. This definitely helps while playing on Legendary difficulty solo. You also can team up with regular space marines which will follow you around until they get killed horribly since they aren’t as badass as you.
One other feature that was unique to the campaign was a mission where you piloted a spacecraft. The mission was a nice break from the normal FPS action and added a fun element to the story. The controls for piloting the ship were fairly easy to learn and having equipment that was just as powerful as the Covenant was definitely a change in pace. The downside is that it was only one mission, wasn’t very long and although it was well done, left you wanting more.
Overall the campaign is solid and worth more than one play through. Once you have taken in the story and play the campaign again you really need to take the time to look at the background and the skies. Frequently large scale battles are going on in the distance which really adds to the atmosphere of being in a large scale battle even though you generally are only fighting with a handful of allies.
This game is a prequel to the rest of the series but the combat is tweaked in several new ways that makes the game feel more like a sequel, with the main new feature being armor abilities. The new armor abilities include Armor Lock, which essentially creates an impervious shield around you for a short period of time.
Hologram which creates a duplicate version of yourself to run/stand at a designated area, a self-explanatory jetpack, the familiar Active Camo (invisibility) and for the first time in a Halo game you can actually RUN with the standard Sprint armor ability. There is also an Evade armor feature which allows you to dive quickly out of trouble like the Elite enemies. These add new depth to both the campaign and the multiplayer where in certain modes you can choose which ability layout you want. I did sit wondering where the heck these abilities were for Master Chief in Halo 3 since he’s so badass he can’t even run
Anyhow...there are also a few new weapons to be found in the game as well including the needle rifle which is essentially a Covenant weapon that has a decent zoom feature but fires needles which will eventually cause an explosion if enough needles are in a person at once. A focus rifle shoots out a beam of energy over long distances as well and can really tick you off when it is used against you. The Battle Rifle familiar to past Halo players has been replaced with a DMR, a very similar weapon which fires one bullet at a time instead of the BR’s three bullets. I truly found myself referring to the weapon as the BR since there wasn’t a whole lot of difference that I could tell.
Multiplayer matchmaking has also been tweaked, combining several elements from previous games with new ones entirely. Gone is the “hey you’re going to play this match type, or veto it and be stuck with whatever we give you.” Now you have four options, three maps/game types and a fourth option for “none of the above.” Should the latter option be chosen you will get a new set of three maps/game types to play allowing more flexibility in choosing what to play. With the recent update to the game, additional play lists have been added including Team Swat (no radar, one hit kills with headshots), removing them from Team Slayer and allowing you to really choose what game you want to play.
Firefight, a new addition from Halo:ODST, which is a survival mode similar to Gears of War 2’s horde mode, is now available to play in matchmaking. In ODST you could play with your friends or by yourself, now you can be matched up with random
For those of you who like to edit maps or create new ones entirely Forge mode makes its return. Forge allows you to take another map, or a blank slate and add literally about anything you want. This can make for unique multiplayer maps that you can invite your friends to play. However Bungie is a unique developer and really does seem to care what the community thinks and has frequently put player created maps into the play cycles. They also have a contest going on to create different map types which will be inserted into play lists, so you truly can contribute to the online community with your creations!
Theater mode also returns allowing you to save videos of your recent matches to view, or edit into clips. This mode is also where many people make machinima videos such as Red vs. Blue. Its also fun to make a clip showing all your friends that you have NO ability to drive a warthog during a firefight match. I personally drown, then the warthog exploded causing me to kill my friend and earn a betrayal…..Sorry Repo!!!
The newest feature on this Halo game is the introduction of credits. Credits not only control what overall rank you are, they also can be used to purchase armor pieces, firefight voices and death effects (its really funny to kill someone in MP and have their head explode with confetti). Credits can be earned every game mode although certain modes yield more credits than others. Customized firefight and forge will earn you no credits for kills, but you receive a paltry amount for the time you played. Multiplayer and play list firefight will earn you the most credits with different amounts awarded depending on the feats you perform.
Another way to earn credits is to complete commendations which are different feats for multiplayer, firefight and campaign. There are several levels starting at Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Onyx and then Max rank. Earning a commendation can yield 250-3000 credits when you reach various ranks. Although these are great, they also have a downside in campaign: once you reach a silver commendation you do not receive as many (or any) credits for performing those feats in campaign. This is probably to prevent people from doing nothing but campaign to boost their credit levels.
Another new addition is the introduction of daily and weekly challenges. There are 4 daily challenges and 1 weekly challenge which again yield various amounts of credits. These can add a fun new way to earn that piece of armor you have been wanting or trying to finally reach Captain rank and leave those irritating Warrant Officer ranks behind….
Halo: Reach basically takes all the modes from the previous titles, adds a few new bells and whistles and delivers a solid product. If you weren’t a Halo fan to begin with this title will unfortunately not change your mind about the series. The game play was updated enough to fix some problems, but will not sway those who weren’t fans to begin with. Being a fan of the Halo series myself I enjoyed this game immensely but really felt that this was a game designed only for fans of the series. Ultimately I gave this game an 8.5/10, if you haven’t played a Halo game before, definitely check it out. If you already are a fan, buy it and enjoy it!
For the achievement chasers:
The game is not too bad to earn a chunk of achievements. The campaign can be played with your friends making for a much easier way to earn the achievement for finishing it on Legendary while many of the online achievements will come naturally just playing the game. The most difficult and time consuming achievements are for earning the Lt Colonel rank and purchase an item from the armory (shame on those of you who glitch this), and the hardest is to beat the campaign SOLO on Legendary. Although I found it to be much easier than Call of Duty: WaW, it still was difficult. If you haven’t played a Halo campaign on this difficulty you may be in for a struggle until you learn some tricks: plasma pistol + any weapon with a zoom for a headshot on elites is the way to go! Otherwise stay back and try to let your Spartan comrades do as much killing as possible. When you are alone, stay back and pick people off, go slowly!
Ultimately its not to hard of a 1000/1000 however on November 30th the new DLC drops which is also supposed to add an additional 250 achievement points….completionists you have been warned!