The last Halo game to be made by Halo’s creators, Bungie. Now that’s not to say there won’t be anymore Halo games, Microsoft owns that franchise and will milk it for what it’s worth. They just don’t own Bungie anymore and those guys are ready for something new. They even say goodbye to the franchise and thank the fans in the credits. Do they go out with a bang? Hellz yes they do! Currently sitting with a well deserved 92 on metacritic, I’m gonna go with a solid 9/10. I’ll be talking about single player mode of course. I might go a little longer than usual with this one 😉
The Good – First off, I gotta mention some technical stuff here. The thing I noticed when I 1st booted it up, was how fast it loaded, in comparison to pt. 3 and ODST of course. Those games were painful to boot up if they weren’t in your cache or whatever those guys did. It’s just smooth how quick I’m able to get up and going when I turn it on. Second, that new graphics engine….man, it’s sweet. Halo 3 & ODST were some really good looking games, but IMO, there was something about them, maybe the way they meshed with everything else….just felt, I dunno, out of date. Especially when you look at the Gears games. Now I wouldn’t say Reach looks as good as a Gears, but it holds it’s own with it’s own style, and pushes the fact that we don’t need new gen consoles just yet. Even the cutscenes are all in game, done way better than in the past, all keeping a fluidity to the presentation. Detail is definitely improved, and colors have a more realistic tone to them. There are times when you’re on a cliff, you look over and there’s war going on in the distance, it really gives an epic feel to the situation.
With Halo, or any other game for that matter, you come for the presentation, then stay for the gameplay. Yeah son, it delivers big time. If you’re a long time Halo fan, then you’ll feel right at home. Bungie took the ‘if ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach for the most part, like usual. Though they did add some improvements. Riding the Warthog feels so much smoother than it did before. Since you don’t dual wield in this one, they put the reload button back on X, and they put melee on the RB, which feels just right. Grenade switching with the B button is a little weird though. Honestly, I don’t miss dual wielding, the lack of it worked fine in ODST and here as well. Sneaking up on foes and holding melee provides a damn satisfying stealth kill with a knife. And as with any new Halo game, some new weapons are thrown in for good measure. As m’man Jamie mentioned in his previous post, the weapons list is ridiculous, so I’ll just highlight a few that I really liked. The concussion rifle, the covenant’s answer to a grenade launcher, makes short work of anything in it’s path, it makes me feel safe when I have it. The plasma repeater, I’ve always loved the plasma gun, this is sort of bigger brother to it, unfortunately it became a bit ineffective towards the end for me, but I’ll get to that later. There’s a few more goodies there too. Throughout the campaign, I felt they mixed up the selection pretty well, so I was able to get a good feel to most of the weapons this time around. It kept the action fresh for me.
The power ups. What. an. improvement. Seriously, they introduced these in Halo 3, problem was, they were weird icons where I didn’t know what did what. I dunno if I’m alone on this one, but I pretty much didn’t use them cuz in the heat of battle, I don’t have time to figure out what the apple core looking thing does. Here, it’s all money. Huge color specific icons when you go to pick them up, that show a pic of what the soldier does. If it’s fast running, there’s a dude running, if it’s armor, there’s a dude crouching in a huddle position, if it’s a jetpack….well, you get the idea. Speaking of jetpacks, how can you not love those things. There’s an awesome strategy thrown in, in which the powers are for a limited time, but do recharge quickly. Which means you can’t just fly through the whole level, but it gets you to some spots easier than just running up there, or my favorite, in the heat of battle. I can’t tell you how many times a Brute would come rushing at me with his 1-hit kill hammer, I would boost away, shooting while looking down, screaming at the TV as he keeled over. It’s pretty awesome. No matter how you cut it or slice it, this is Halo 4 with a prequel story. This one definitely has my favorite gameplay and fighting out of all the Halo games. And it’s definitely the best Halo package well worth the 60 bux I’ll put down on it. Sorry, I really dug ODST, but it was an EXPANSION to Halo 3 that should’ve been cheaper, they lied and charged full price. But anyways, I can go on all day about how cool it was to do this, or do that, but the gushing has to come to end folks. Time to touch up on what I feel are some of the flaws.
The Bad – As with most games, I like to play on normal mode, for I feel this is how I think the developer wanted the player to experience their creation the first time through. A solid challenge is what makes a game fun to play to me….do you know what doesn’t make it fun? When that challenge becomes ball-punching abuse. Reach’s campaign is crazy awesome fun, then at the last couple levels, things get knocked a little out of balance as you’ll get to areas where you’re too overwhelmed with enemies. You’ll get to sections with Hunters where instead of a fun battle, they’re just a pain in the ass cuz you’ll die so much, yes I know they were always toughies, but you will unload MANY clips. Some of the elites come flying through with frickin almost invincible armor. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but when I have to reload more than twice, and their shields still aren’t down, it gets annoying. I know it’s supposed to be the last hurrah and all that good stuff, but there’s other ways of making a battle feel epic without just making enemies too strong.
There’s a space ship flying section…..which is actually pretty cool, but there are times there, restarting a checkpoint for a 6th time, just pissed me the hell off. I felt the game took maybe an hour or so to really get going, I mean, I’m all excited when I 1st fire it up…..then I sit there like, ok, it’s Halo….basically, some of the new stuff could’ve been introduced a little quicker. The story, ah yes…..titanic syndrome, since much has been made about the book Reach is based on, we know the planet goes down in the end. So no surprises there…..while the cutscenes look awesome, again, maybe I’m alone in this, but I can’t tell you what the hell just happened…they didn’t exactly engage me, it’s like, ok, get me to the next level. They shoulda brought some of that cool storytelling style from ODST over. Some of the new weapons aren’t really given a chance to flesh out their potential to gameplay…..how many times did we get to use the target locator? Halo’s own hammer of dawn, once I think?
The Ugly – There are some dark moments in this one….when you first come back to the planet after the covenant has ravished everything….buildings burning in the background, bodies all over the place, it’s a creepy site. Either that or I ran out of steam and didn’t know what to put in this section 😉