Halo: Reach User Review
- Just Right
- Time Spent:
- 10 Hours or Less
- The Bottom Line:
At the time of Halo Reach's release, the franchise was just one year shy of turning a decade old. Not only is Halo Reach a prequel to the game that started it all back in 2001, it is also Bungie's last installment in their long running alien-blasting FPS series. Halo 4 is around the horizon, but alas, Bungie will not be involved. So, when you're playing through Halo Reach's campaign, the game contains a rather bittersweet poignancy. You know that not only will Reach meet its end at the hands of the Covenant, younknow that you'll be meeting Bungie's end as well.
Anyone who knows of Halo canon is well aware of Reach's future. It will not end with a happy ending where children come out of hiding and dance around on grassy hills while picking flowers. No, as both the history outlined in the games and described in the novel Halo: Fall of Reach, you know that every round you fire, brute you gun butt from behind and Wraith you destroy with a plasma grenade is all for naught. Reach, no matter how hard you fight for it, will not survive. You are a Spartan, though, a member of Nobel Squad, and it doesn't matter to you. You just keep fighting. You HAVE to. You are built for this.
Halo Reach contains a great wealth of familiarity. The guns feel the same. The controls and movement feel the same. The physics from explosions and the even melees feel exactly the same, with the addition of stealth kills that don't always execute. There's a good reason for this as well, considering this kind of gameplay is what amassed millions of fans over the span of a decade. What you will notice, however, is that the level design has been greatly improved. Levels are much more expansive, and there's a lot less cut and paste. There are more options than ever to attack objectives from different angles, and since the enemy AI is still as incredibly sharp as it ever was, it only fuels the excitement of the gameplay more.
But, something seems to be lost in this campaign. There's an underwhelming sense of story presentation here. It's almost as if Bungie said, "This is our last game, so let's just focus on the gameplay and leave the story telling behind." The fact that the campaign doesn't really take off until almost half way into the story doesn't help matters, so you're left not really carrying too much about the characters and events that lead up to the final moment. When the game does try to jerk an emotional response from you, the sudden timing and delivery falls short and you merely let out a, "Huh..." The story telling simply falls greatly in comparison to Fall of Reach, the book that everyone felt the game should doing its best to follow.
That said, running around and shooting up Covenant baddies is still as fun as ever. You'll find a lot of exciting new skirmishes such as taking down packs of brutes and fighting off two or even three hunters. You can give commands to squad members when you meet up with them, but you find you won't need to as they can handle their own very well. There are a lot of returning guns like the assault rifles and shotguns, and there are a few new ones such as plasma cannons that home in on enemies and plasma launchers that blow stuff up something good.
There are also new equipment pick ups that let you use shields, jet packs and even holograms, but one peculiar thing to note about is that the natural ability to sprint has been relegated to a pick up as well. Yes, that means you CANNOT have the ability to use a shield and sprint at the same time! This greatly affects a certain play style where you run around and bash enemies more than you shoot them. It just really doesn't make any sense, because for being so well genetically engineered and equipped as these Spartans are, sprinting should be just as easy as moving your legs a little faster.
Reach does disappoint in a few vehicle segments, however. It's not because there's anything wrong with them, it's because it's over far too quickly. There's a scene where you have to go all out in a Mongoose to deliver a package to a certain infamous cruiser, but just when your adrenaline glands kick in, you run smack dab into a barrier forced to go on foot again. There's also only ONE Scorpion segment and that doesn't last much longer as well. The Scorpions are one of the best things about Halo games, and it's such a shame to see it used so very little here. For the first time ever, there are also space ship dog fights, but they are quite a bore. You'd also have to go out of your way in order to get yourself killed during these levels.
It's hard to appreciate any graphical improvement contained within Halo Reach, because on the surface it appears quite dull. It doesn't pack the same amount of vibrant colors as previous Halo games and the textures might not even seem as sharp. Frame rate stuttering during cutscenes also doesn't help the game's case, so you begin to wonder just what aspect Bungie has improved in. Subtlety. Characters and vehicles are built with a few more polygons and there's a good amount of detailing in the environment to establish atmosphere. Special effects are still fantastic from the glowing trails of hunters' projectiles to the wonderful bluish spray of plasma from explosions. Spartans also have night vision, and that effect works very well in the dark, while not becoming flooded when you reach well-lit areas. It's a pretty cool filter.
Sadly, the audio is the department where the game disappoints the most. Although the soundtrack is good, it's just no where near the same level as the original Halo games. Reach does not contain a theme that is as dynamic or as memorable as the previous classics. Good tracks that pump you up and get you into the battle come in too infrequently. The sound effects are still as impressive as they were with purple Needler rounds that shatter like glass, loud reports from UNSC issued weaponry, hums from alien firearms and of course big giant explosions. The voice acting isn't very compelling at all in this game, and it has the adverse effect of causing you to care less for the characters. The story isn't helped much either, as chapters are broken up with narration from a very dull computer AI.
Aside from a slow start, Halo Reach's campaign is pretty solid. It builds up so much speed and intensity later on that instead of being impressed with the game, you become disappointed because you wanted the rest of the game to match that same caliber. You'll also become even more let down if you expect the story of Reach to be what the book Fall of Reach was, and you're just going to end up shaking your head during the moments when the game tries and fails to make you care for its characters. Still, blowing up Covenant is just as fun as it ever was, but there's definitely more to life than that.
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- Player Reviews: 558
- Game Universe:
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Online Modes:
Competitive, Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
16 Players Online