Review: Halo Reach

PREPARE TO DROP

Developer: Bungie
Genre: Sci-Fi First Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: September 14, 2010
Compatability: 640KB Mininum Space | Players 1-4 | HDTV 720p / 1080i / 1080p | Online Multiplayer 2-16 | Co-Op 2-4 | System Link 2-16
Rating: 9.9

Times are hard. Humanity is on the brink of eradication from the outer reaches of the universe. The war against the Covenant has gone badly and the lone human colony that still stands is on Reach. The nearly 700 million colonists are dependent on the UNSC for the protection of Reach via the last military hub that still exists there. And then you enter, Noble Six. You are a replacement for a fallen comrade from Noble Team who will soon find out that more exists on Reach than first meets the eye. Almost immediately you discover, as if you are locked in a horrific nightmare of brutal and challenging combat, the last human stronghold separating the Covenant from discovering Halo and, thus finding planet Earth, will soon crumble from the costs of war.

There is universally no denying, whether you are a fan of the Halo series or not, that the Halo franchise is one of the most recognizable in entertainment history. With billions of matches that have been played online since its inception in 2001, it is known to gamers and non-gamers throughout the world. This juggernaut of a series has single-handedly pulled almost an entire generation away from what used to be a PC dominated first-person shooter world and brought them into console-based games. Because of its predecessors, Halo: Reach has a monumental reputation to live up to, to say the least. After the tremendous offerings of Halo’s 1-3, and a little bit of disappointment from Halo: ODST, it is clear that Bungie made every effort to make Reach as massively entertaining and creatively inspired as possible. After playing the game in all of its modes, multiplayer and campaign, it is safe to say that they succeeded in creating a game that is nearly flawless in every aspect.

Visuals are simply jaw-dropping. One of the best around.

If you are a fan of graphics over story, then Reach will be right up even the most scrupulous graphic critic’s alley. Words like stunning, jaw-dropping, and awe-inspiring can barely describe the massive undertaking that art designers have executed in this game with complete success. The opening sequence of the storyline alone will leave any fan of HD game graphics utterly breathless. It is hard not to notice the absolute attention to detail that is placed on every aspect of layout. From the lush forests to the sprawling urban areas, the graphics give the player a feeling of total immersion in the environment. Furthermore, the attention to facial details, voice-acting, and uniforms is simply amazing. From the chipped paint on your custom armor, to the cracks in the helmet you’ve sacrificed for the longevity of the human race, it’s obvious that every detail has been laboriously been taken into account. As with any undertaking of this scope, there can be eventual problems however. In their attempts to portray some of the larger-scale conflicts that plagued the planet, there are some minor framerate issues. The key word is “minor” as you are usually so involved in what is going on around you in the combat, that they are barely noticeable.

The storyline for Reach focuses mainly on Six. Six is the genderless, faceless replacement for a fallen hero from Noble team. Throughout the story, the designers fill you with an increasing sense of urgency as you continuously try to work your way through levels that get ever more intense. From the onset, the character development and storyline will keep gamers completely involved with the development of the protagonists and their foes. Without throwing out any spoilers for the few that might not have this title yet, by the time you are finished, it leaves you feeling like you’ve truly sacrificed and accomplished something for humanity. Make no mistake; the combat system was a major focus of the game’s story design. As a veteran gamer, I always try to play any title on the hardest difficulty, and even on the “normal” setting combat is a challenge. On the “legendary” setting I felt like a champ at the beginning of the game, but as the game went on I was humbled by the intensity of my tormentors. For those gamers who think that playing the campaign in co-op will make it easier, think again. The game has an increased difficulty based on the number of players who are in the co-op lobby. If you’re going to play this title on the hardest difficulty, make sure you bring a “thinking” cap and a healthy dose of patience because it is very hard. As a reward though, the designers of Reach even threw in that nugget of horde based insanity at the end of the game after the closing credits.

Being single player or multiplayer, Halo: Reach makes you coming back for more. Endless possibilities.

The multiplayer suite in Reach is as lavish and rich as any title produced to date. There’s a proverbial bonanza of different game types for players to sink their teeth in to. There are still the team-based slayer matches which can be played with 4 vs 4 or as high as 8 vs 8 teams. The developers also smartly brought back the firefight game mode from the ODST title, which can be compared to any other games “horde” mode. Also included are the invasion and swat game types. Finally, the designers have brought back a bigger forge world for those aspiring game designers out there. The only downside to forge is that if you create a map, the only multiplayer that it will host is your friends. Not only is there a wide variety of gameplay options, but the unlockables that are earned through credits help you completely customize your character. Furthermore the designers decided to treat the multiplayer and campaign modes as one complete whole. Single player, co-op, or multiplayer, everything you do earns you credits. In addition, anything you do to change your character in the multiplayer suite will be reflected in the campaign.

It is hard to describe the sheer beauty of this title. The gaming experience that anyone can get from Halo: Reach is absolutely tremendous. From the artwork to the newly composed soundtrack, this is one of the most complete titles I’ve ever had the privilege of playing. In addition, hours and hours of play can be derived from the game mode of choice for any gamer. None of us knows where the Halo franchise will go from here, but the bar has certainly been set for any future titles that Microsoft decides to release.

Reviewed by vadrummin – December 16, 2010

Graphics
The visual program of this title is first rate. All of the graphics are fluid and beautiful and the attention to detail is amazing. Some minor framerate issues do occur, but they definitely don’t detract from the experience.
 
Sound
Between the top-notch voice acting, the active sounds of battle, and a newly composed soundtrack, the sounds of this game are totally immersive. The sound is some of the most involved and accurate of any title to date.
 
Fun
There are endless possibilities to explore in this game. While the forge mode pales to some of the other titles that exist, customizable and multiplayer maps will keep gamers coming back over and over again.
 
Final Score

 

Responses

  1. It’s true that this was a visually stunning game and that the co-op elements both in campaign and multiplayer were very well developed but for me the story let it down. It’s hard when you’re producing a prequel because the audience have some idea how it should end, but speaking from a newcomer to the halo series( campaign wise) I was left underwhelmed by the end.

    It’s clearly a good game but I think the reviewer needs to produce a more balanced review as 9.9 suggests it is flawless!

    • SliderSteve83,

      I respect your opinoin about the game itself and understand where you are coming from when it comes down to the storyline. I always try to be as fair and balance with my reviews as possible. It’s sort of like taking a 100 question test in school, if you get a queston wrong you don’t get a perfect score, but you still get a good grade. I noted some minor flaws in the actual design of the game, hence the reason that it was not given a perfect score.

      Thank you for your support of our work.

  2. Personally I thought the story was a far bigger improvement on the usual Halo trash. I understand that its all meant to be a bit tounge in cheek but the combination of 80s action, comical aliens, and dialogue scripted by a brain damged bonobo chimp just doesn’t fit. Often factions in this galactic war change sides for 5 minutes just to fill in a bit of story.

    Reach improves on this and everything is a bit darker and brooding, with a hint of tragedy to the end. Personally I loved the (spoiler alert!) last man standing section at the end.

    For me it was the multi player which left the biggest hole – the maps in particular. Where have the classics from Halo 2 & 3 gone? I realise this wanted to be its own game but it would have been so easy to recreate these in a map pack or something, with a new spin for the loadouts. The new maps just don’t cut it. The vehicles have also been ruined, having been turned into fragile tin cans. In H3 they were the game changers which opposing teams had to stick together and use strategy to take down. Now they are nothing more than a ticket to a comical suicide.


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