Itâ€™s been 3 years since the last full game and this is the final chapter in the epic tale which has produced 6 games over 9 years. Itâ€™s planning to go out with a bang. The game weâ€™re reviewing this time is the one and only Halo: Reach. Gone is the Chief, but Noble team have stepped up to fill his boots. We know how it ends, but this is how it started as Reach is a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved and is developed by the same team at Bungie. It tells the tale of the fall of the Spartans and the fall of Reach at the hands of the Covenant. So is it a thrill a minute non-stop ride in a Warthog through an exploding halo, or a doomed drop pod?
Reach is a prequel to the Halo series and sees you take the role of Lieutenant SPARTAN-B312, the newest member to join Noble team. Once you join them you are mainly called Noble 6 and take the place of Thom-293 who was killed in action, although, as the team says, Spartans never die, they just go missing in action. The only two members who have been in the team since the start are Carter and Kat, as Noble team are often used for suicide missions. So the game kicks off with Noble six riding shotgun in a Warthog, racing to meet the team before they dust off on the mission. Reach has more of a team based story mechanic like that seen in ODST, where every member of the team has their own style and personality. Thereâ€™s a Sniper, heavy gunner, tech head, leader and general hard ass, and they do a good job of watching your back in fire fights, as well as helping push the story along and they really add something to the story mode. Reach will take around the usual 8-10 hours to complete.
First mission sees you and the team going to investigate an area of Reach where there has been a radio black out and two fire teams of marines have gone missing. So something is afoot, though the UNSC believe it to be insurrectionists. The team soon find out that itâ€™s a lot worse than that. The Covenant have landed and are searching for something on the planetâ€™s surface. From there it all kicks off and Noble 6’s first day on the job is going to be one hell of a killer.
The campaign will see the fighting take place all over the planet, from farm land to high rise cities and even in space, as you follow the actions of Noble team and their fight to save their planet. The Covenant are sending their best units to try and stop you and this will see the return of an old enemy – the Elites. As always they’re quick, smart and not afraid to die for the prophets and their cause.
The campaign is a non-stop rollercoaster ride from start to finish and is packed with highs and lows and may even bring a tear to the hardest of Spartans’ eyes by the end. It’s really a joy to play through and once youâ€™re hooked, you’re not going to want to stop till the end. It is an epic tale that only Bungie can craft.
Graphics & Sound
The game has some of the best graphics ever seen in a Halo game and the planet of Reach is brought to life in amazing colour and detail. The opening level is a great example of this because not since the first game, where you crash land on halo and leave the escape pod to find the wide, vast vista of the valley and the halo climbing up the horizon in the distance, has a level looked so good. On top of this, the legend Martin o’donnell has returned to write the score for the game and these large orchestral scores set the mood and the feel of the level and are a real stand out feature for the game.
Reach sticks to the core gameplay of the past Halos, but it has been refined and adds new elements. One of the new features is the ability system which lets you swap out different powers, such as sprint, jetpack, active camo and armour lock. During the campaign these abilities give you an edge over the enemy in the heat of battle. Bungie have also beefed up the arsenal for Reach, adding a range of new weapons to mix it up a little. Like ODST, they have dropped the ability to duel wield weapons as well as fan favourites like the SMG and the BR. The new DMR is a good replacement for the BR although it fires single shots instead of 3 round bursts.
Reach features multiplayer like the past Halos and supports split screen, system link and of course Live. After you’re done with the campaign side of things, the multiplayer will be the thing which brings you back to the game again and again. This time out Bungie have gone all out so fans of the game have the most complete on line experience and this is where Reach enters a league of its own. One of the biggest changes is at the start of every online mode you will have to pick an augmentation which has a weapon and a ability. This will dictate the style of how your Spartan will fight during the match.
As for playlists, there is the standard fan favourite like rumble pit, team slayer and big team battle. On top of that there are new modes like Headhunter, which sees you fighting to get kills, but to make the kill count you have to grab the skull of the other player and take it to an area to score. The more skulls, the bigger your score. But beware as the more you have, the more you have to lose as other players can take your stash of skulls from you. Another new mode is Stockpile, which is like CTF crossed with Headhunter in that 2 teams fight it out to collect flags and hold onto them in an area to score. Like Headhunter, the enemy team can steal your flags out of the area. These new modes are fast ‘n furious and above all fun, and that is the key word when it comes to Halo on-line, fun.
There is also a new arena playlist where hardcore players can fight it out to get a rank. This is a rank that changes every month and is a live league for the hardcore MLG style fans. This will be where you find the best of the best players slugging it out.
Also returning in Reach is Fire Fight mode. It has been beefed up with new modes such as generator defence and sniper fights. FireFight adds a great Co-Op mode to the game, seeing four Spartans fight it out as rounds of enemies try to stop them. Fun, fast and frantic .
the other side of Halo is the Forge mode which, in the past, has let fans build maps and publish them so others can download them. Reach doesnâ€™t just have a Forge level, it has a Forge world which is a builders dream and is a massive area to let you build anything you want. Itâ€™s so good Bungie have built several classic maps in Forge world and these are used in all the active playlists. Forge world is great fun. Objects can now be phased into others and you can also snap them to each other, making it very easy to use.
Well, after 3 years waiting Reach has landed and is by far the best Halo yet and a true tour de force for Bungie. It delivers a hard hitting campaign, an outstanding multiplayer experience and will no doubt be up for game of the year. This is a must buy for all Halo fans and Xbox owners alike.
Make him proud