Review: Halo: Reach (Single-Player)

Let us start things off in a blunt matter. This is a Halo game. If you liked any of Bungie’s previous titles with the same moniker, chances are you will like it. For the 24 people who haven’t either heard about or played any Halo game, and for some odd reason you are beginning your career with Reach, you are in for a treat.

Halo: Reach isn’t a game changer for the many who have played Halo before.

For any of those who have submerged themselves into the Halo lore over the years will know that Reach is not a delightful story. The first scene of the game focuses on a spartan helmet in a deserted battleground with a bullet hole cracking the visor. Immediately you are introduced to Noble Team, an elite group of Spartan-III’s (and one Spartan-II) who have single-handedly won battles.  I commend Bungie for deciding how the player would fit into this group of individuals. You play Noble Six, a heavily experienced Spartan known for taking out entire militia groups, sharing a background similar to the Chief. The fact that you are able to fully customize his look and are able to see it in the cut-scenes goes to show you how much Bungie wants Six to be your character in the universe.  Each moment is centered on forcing you deeper into his role while trying to relate to the other Spartan on your side. Unfortunately by the end of the game I had gained little incentive to actually care about the others. Some of the plot elements were obvious from the beginning.  It may have helped a bit if we didn’t know Reach’s inevitable demise, but making connections to these characters has its complications. Don’t get me wrong, what Bungie managed to do with a small amount of time is phenomenal, I just wished that I could remember each one more vividly.

Halo: Reach isn’t a game changer for the many who have played Halo before. It plays near identical to the others, with only a few minor twists to the classic formula. In Halo 3 we were introduced to some fairly useful equipment items that were picked up throughout the campaign and were usable in multiplayer. These abilities added a small flair to combat, forcing players to strategically work with things like the Bubble Shield or the Power Drain. This time around Reach offers its own version of a Call of Duty-esque perk system. Enter Armor Abilities. With this well needed addition you are able to further customize Noble 6 to your play style. These ablities range from a simple-yet-drastic sprint to a (freakin’) jet-pack. While all of these form a small niche in the campaign in the online component they shine. A small amount of guns have been added along with some of the old favorites making a new and improved return. As I was shooting my way through the vast amounts of enemies I began to feel an emotional connection with the new DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle). Although some will argue it’s the new Battle Rifle I would strongly disagree. Once you start becoming attuned to the power and accuracy that it’s capable of, they will retract their statements. One firearm seems as if it were created just to piss you off when it was in your enemies hands, and to make you feel like a god when it was resting in yours. The weapon in question launches four plasma grenades at the current locked-on target and completely obliterated anyone next to them as well. This nearly over-powered weapon is simply called the Plasma Launcher…I think it fits.

They have shaped the future for the Sci-fi genre for years to come

The story progresses at a well-times pace but begins to falter in the last part of the game. By this time, we all know what is going to happen and this event is stalled by large encounters with enemies and buttons to press. Taking the last couple hours out of the equation, the Halo combat stayed fresh during each firefight. I may have died a few extra times due to the increasingly smarted enemies, but tacking each situation differently was most of the fun. Taking the time to look around while plasma is hurdling your way can also be awe-inspiring. The large set pieces are stunning and create a feeling of importance in your skirmishes. The graphics are beautiful in a sense of artistic style, although they are by no means the most detailed polygons I’ve ever seen. The cut-scenes are very entertaining to watch, mostly because the camera angles are very surreal feeling. Each scene is presented from a fake seventh member of Noble Team following Six on his journey. By the end things wrap up nicely and some questions are finally put to rest.

The way they rap up the series and complete the circle can only be done by a team like Bungie. Being their last Halo game, it’s very hard to read their final farewell note before the credits roll. They have shaped the future for the Sci-fi genre for years to come and have had a massive part in creating an incredibly popular franchise. Their last effort may have had its flaws, but there are so many additional factors that push it back up (and over) to perfection. They know how to make a Halo game, and it is a great stopping point. I applaud them in their efforts and I am happily looking forward to what they have to offer in the future.

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