Halo Reach is easily one of the most anticipated videogame releases of 2010. The anticipation built to such a level that the game made a record breaking $200 million on day one. This is the last game in the series to be developed by Bungie Studios. There may be more Halo games but this is the last to be crafted by the folks responsible for crafting one of the most popular game franchises in the history of videogames.
Halo Reach is a prequel story to all of the other games. It tells the story of the fall of the planet Reach to the aliens so it’s easy to expect a less than happy ending because we know there are three, four if you count ODST, other stories to be told before the story is truly complete. In this go around you play a foot soldier, not the super hero Master Chief that you were in the other games. The main way you notice that you aren’t the hero of the other games is that you can’t take as many hits as you once could and the weapons don’t have the kick that they do in the other games. With that said the weapons balancing is better here than it has ever been.
All of the familiar Halo elements are in place here including the familiar weapons, the vehicles, and the pickups. The most striking thing about these elements is just how refined they are. The vehicle control scheme in Halo games is different than in most other videogames and here it finally hits its pinnacle. This is the first time that the control has ever felt completely natural and easy to master early on in gameplay. This comes from someone who’s not a master of any of the games thus far.
Many other reviews have raved about the story and honestly I don’t get it. The story is serviceable and thankfully it is much more streamlined than that of previous installments to the franchise. There are no dramatic moments in the game but there are plenty of “melodramatic” moments throughout. That’s not necessarily an insult or complaint because this is just the nature of videogame storytelling. There are some games with fantastic stories but there not as common as many gamers would have you believe. You want good videogame stories? This is an aside from the review but some recommendations for videogames with good stories include Half Life, Condemned, Heavy Rain, and Bioshock. Most first person shooters just have a story that helps offer up opportunities to shoot things and that’s cool.
The battles in this game are a really fantastic mix of epic and intimate and they’re a nice break from the more linear firefights common to most current shooters such as the Modern Warfare games and even the Gears of War games. The artificial intelligence of the Halo games has progressively gotten better and better and again this is the pinnacle of the franchise. You take a huge open play area where you can move and approach fights from nearly any angle you want and you add AI that reacts to every decision that you make and the result is a game that’s completely riveting.
Add to the engrossing campaign a new character customization tool that allows you to add custom armor and helmets to your character as you acquire credits through gameplay and the game becomes more addictive. Bungie is also offering up daily and weekly game goals that gain you credits and achievements if you meet those goals. The multiplayer modes are some of the best in videogames that include customizable maps through the extremely deep Forge mode to team battles against waves of aliens via firefight. So there’s plenty of reason to play the campaign through many times over and the XBOX Live goals and achievements and deep multiplayer give this game a longer life than most other games on the market. The only real complaint I have is that there aren’t enough new exciting weapons. It’s hard to reason why there would be very many new weapons in the story and the franchise but honestly some new exciting weapons would have been appreciated. There are a few surprises though including one weapon lifted right from Gears of War. Halo Reach is the shooter game for shooter fans and it’s totally sci-fi which is also fresh in a pool of modern and classic war games.
The first Halo game was literally a game changer on many levels from storytelling to gameplay to graphics. Looking down and seeing separate blades of grass was truly amazing. Halo 2, 3, and ODST all took evolutionary steps forward in graphics but the franchise was often being surpassed in this department by other games. Finally Halo Reach takes that true next step in graphic beauty. Textures, character design, and overall environments are completely gorgeous to look at. With that said Halo Reach doesn’t set a new bar in look but it’s completely comparable to any shooter currently on the market. The one little complaint is that the look of the familiar weapons in the game doesn’t get the same visual upgrade that the rest of the game gets. Overall though, this game is gorgeous.
Halo Reach is one of the best executed games on store shelves this year if not the best. Not one thing about this game seems rushed. It all feels very well thought out and refined which is not common in a business where developers are so often forced to make compromises to meet release dates. This is one of the must own games of 2010. It’s a part of pop culture history and missing out would be a real loss.
Overall (Not an average) 9/10
The Game 9.5/10
The Graphics 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9/10