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This Is A Poor Excuse For A Halo: Reach Preview

Someone named Jeff doesn't like to carry a notebook.

So here's something you might not know about me. I typically don't take notes while reviewing games. The usual exceptions would be, like, if a specific line of dialogue jumps out at me and I want to make sure that I'm quoting it correctly or something like that. But I tend to go with the "if I can't remember it, chances are it doesn't necessarily make enough of an impact to be a point in the review" approach. It's served me pretty well over the years. In fact, the only times when this approach does me wrong is in cases like the one I'm currently facing.

I played Halo: Reach today. Before doing so, I signed a big ol' non-disclosure agreement, which covers things like not spoiling the story twists and not using footage of specific areas, and so on. It's nothing fancy and it comes with the territory. Some folks are quick to jump at moments like this as if it's some sort of shady dealing, but it's a standard part of doing business. When companies give you early access to their marquee releases, they want some legal backup to keep you from going hog-wild and posting video of the entire game online or something, and the agreements never encroach on a reviewer's ability to do his or her job. At least, none of the ones I've signed have been that way.

But that's beside the point. The difference with today's play session and subsequent legal agreement is that there are a couple of levels in the Halo: Reach campaign that I can freely talk about right now. Right this second, I could be typing it up instead of writing this nonsense. That is... if I could remember what those two levels entailed.

== TEASER ==It's tempting to go and find some other outlet's writeup of the two levels and skim them, if only to get a quick refresher course. But that'd be cheating! Gah, but it'd probably only take a sentence like "and then Noble Six cracks a dude in the skull on a bridge" to jog my memory. Wait... maybe I can't talk about the skull cracking or the bridge.

I guess it speaks to the different mentalities of the previewer versus the reviewer. I'm interested in taking the entire game in as a whole when I'm working on a review. Don't take this as me saying "most parts of a game aren't important" or anything like that. The individual moments are important when they're happening, but they're quickly culled down to a general feeling along with a few specific sequences to support points made in the text or accompanying video. Usually, by the time I've finished playing a game, many of my thoughts are organized well enough to begin writing almost immediately, though some games require a bit more thought for one reason or another.

Man, I should have just taken some effting notes instead of being all high and mighty, like I'm mister "bringing a notepad just slows me down." So here are a couple of things I can say about these two levels--whichever two they actually are--in Halo: Reach.

  • Spartans have cool armor.
  • I still enjoy the guns-followed-by-melee approach that has served the Halo series so well for all these years.
  • The armor abilities make for an interesting addition to the standard Halo gameplay... in these two levels, of course.
  • I should really go play those two levels again and take notes instead of being a total jackass.

As an aside, I threw up the following post on Twitter before starting on this little not-write-up:

NOTE: TAKE THE ABOVE AT FACE VALUE 
That was immediately met with people trying to find hidden meaning in the message, as if this was some sly missive with loads to say about the quality of the Reach campaign. I swear, sometimes I think you guys at home are getting just as big on the misquotes and the art of the "scandalous" headline as some games writers are. Gross! Not everything has a double meaning. Sometimes my inability to parse and store level names is just my inability to parse and store level names, OK? 
 
Wait! One is the sort of... stealthy mission, and the other opens with all those Warthogs going balls out, right? Jeez, hope I'm right... Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
262 Comments
Posted by Jeff
So here's something you might not know about me. I typically don't take notes while reviewing games. The usual exceptions would be, like, if a specific line of dialogue jumps out at me and I want to make sure that I'm quoting it correctly or something like that. But I tend to go with the "if I can't remember it, chances are it doesn't necessarily make enough of an impact to be a point in the review" approach. It's served me pretty well over the years. In fact, the only times when this approach does me wrong is in cases like the one I'm currently facing.

I played Halo: Reach today. Before doing so, I signed a big ol' non-disclosure agreement, which covers things like not spoiling the story twists and not using footage of specific areas, and so on. It's nothing fancy and it comes with the territory. Some folks are quick to jump at moments like this as if it's some sort of shady dealing, but it's a standard part of doing business. When companies give you early access to their marquee releases, they want some legal backup to keep you from going hog-wild and posting video of the entire game online or something, and the agreements never encroach on a reviewer's ability to do his or her job. At least, none of the ones I've signed have been that way.

But that's beside the point. The difference with today's play session and subsequent legal agreement is that there are a couple of levels in the Halo: Reach campaign that I can freely talk about right now. Right this second, I could be typing it up instead of writing this nonsense. That is... if I could remember what those two levels entailed.

== TEASER ==It's tempting to go and find some other outlet's writeup of the two levels and skim them, if only to get a quick refresher course. But that'd be cheating! Gah, but it'd probably only take a sentence like "and then Noble Six cracks a dude in the skull on a bridge" to jog my memory. Wait... maybe I can't talk about the skull cracking or the bridge.

I guess it speaks to the different mentalities of the previewer versus the reviewer. I'm interested in taking the entire game in as a whole when I'm working on a review. Don't take this as me saying "most parts of a game aren't important" or anything like that. The individual moments are important when they're happening, but they're quickly culled down to a general feeling along with a few specific sequences to support points made in the text or accompanying video. Usually, by the time I've finished playing a game, many of my thoughts are organized well enough to begin writing almost immediately, though some games require a bit more thought for one reason or another.

Man, I should have just taken some effting notes instead of being all high and mighty, like I'm mister "bringing a notepad just slows me down." So here are a couple of things I can say about these two levels--whichever two they actually are--in Halo: Reach.

  • Spartans have cool armor.
  • I still enjoy the guns-followed-by-melee approach that has served the Halo series so well for all these years.
  • The armor abilities make for an interesting addition to the standard Halo gameplay... in these two levels, of course.
  • I should really go play those two levels again and take notes instead of being a total jackass.

As an aside, I threw up the following post on Twitter before starting on this little not-write-up:

NOTE: TAKE THE ABOVE AT FACE VALUE 
That was immediately met with people trying to find hidden meaning in the message, as if this was some sly missive with loads to say about the quality of the Reach campaign. I swear, sometimes I think you guys at home are getting just as big on the misquotes and the art of the "scandalous" headline as some games writers are. Gross! Not everything has a double meaning. Sometimes my inability to parse and store level names is just my inability to parse and store level names, OK? 
 
Wait! One is the sort of... stealthy mission, and the other opens with all those Warthogs going balls out, right? Jeez, hope I'm right...
Staff
Edited by Nyro

Halo

Edited by TheGreatGuero

Curses! I'm #2! Well Jeff, we hope you go back with a notepad. Well, kinda. I actually think I'd just want to play the game and find myself. But I'm totally cool with hearing about Warthogs going balls out. Who isn't?

Posted by Jeff
@Nyro said:
" Halo "
Thank you for your insightful contribution.
Staff
Posted by MordeaniisChaos

Super excited for this game.

Posted by Nyro
@Jeff: welcome!
Posted by buzz_clik

I smell a smoke screen, Gerstmann.

Moderator
Posted by ChristianCastillo

damn Jeff, get your act together 

Posted by mazik765

 That is one remarkable preview. 

Posted by Lunar_Aura
 
 
@Jeff
said:
" @Nyro said:
" Halo "
Thank you for your insightful contribution. "

It's even more ironic how after reading your article, Nyro basically foreshadowed 95% of the upcoming replies.
Posted by Vager

Halo: Reach. It's a Game. Preview Done.

Online
Posted by KamikazeCaterpillar
@Jeff said:
" @Nyro said:
" Halo "
Thank you for your insightful contribution. "
I second this.
Posted by punkxblaze

It's okay, Jeff. We all appreciate the effort anyway.

Posted by FinalDasa

It's ok Jeff, it happens 
 
And any in-depth preview into Reach's levels would have only served as a huge tease for a game I have already decided to purchase.  
 
Oh, and I hope someone sends Giantbomb 775 tiny notepads. 

Moderator
Posted by Red12b

it's your fault that people just say "Halo" for the quest instead of actually discussing the topic,  
  
Anyway, cheers for the inside look at how you do that voodoo you do somewhat well sometimes... 
 
Good Stuff
Posted by Heartagram

Haha...This is why i love Giant Bomb.

Posted by sagesebas
@Jeff: YA know sometimes a cigar is just a cigar
Posted by Lukeweizer

Doesn't matter Jeff, Reach falls anyway.

Posted by MordeaniisChaos
@punkxblaze said:
" It's okay, Jeff. We all appreciate the effort anyway. "
Halo: Reach; The Game: The Movie: The Novelization: The Review: The Notes: The lie??
Posted by punkxblaze
@MordeaniisChaos said:
" @punkxblaze said:
" It's okay, Jeff. We all appreciate the effort anyway. "
Halo: Reach; The Game: The Movie: The Novelization: The Review: The Notes: The lie?? "
The Audio Drama. Narrated by Ryan Davis.
Posted by MordeaniisChaos
@punkxblaze said:
" @MordeaniisChaos said:
" @punkxblaze said:
" It's okay, Jeff. We all appreciate the effort anyway. "
Halo: Reach; The Game: The Movie: The Novelization: The Review: The Notes: The lie?? "
The Audio Drama. Narrated by Ryan Davis. "
Pre-ordering on amazon as we speak. SO excited :3
Edited by HatKing

This has been one of my favorite reads on the site in a long time.  Jeff you're a clever man. : )
Posted by Red12b

@Lukeweizer Said: 

Doesn't matter Jeff, Reach falls anyway.      


 
 
Because you've played the game right? You wouldn't say this unless you've played the game, how else would you know?! I bet you don't make assumptions, you wouldn't do that would you, Nope never!
Posted by Hailinel

This is simultaneously the worst and best preview of Halo:  Reach I've read so far.

Online
Posted by ThePhantomnaut

Shit happened.

Posted by BunkerBuster

If it makes you fell better Jeff, I can't remember what happened in any of the Halo games. I even played the first game four times through.

Posted by LordXavierBritish

I'm so pumped for Reach now.

Posted by DoctorWelch

I really dont think anyone cares about a Halo Reach preview because I bet most of the people that would care already got their own personal preview by playing the beta. I think Reach is just one of those games that everyone knows whether or not they are going to get it months before hand, and no preview, trailer, or even review, is going to effect that decision.

Posted by mikeeegeee

I don't get it. Were you drunk?

Posted by twosided

Well it seems that Reach is in fact a Halo game.  The fact that nothing else about it stands out is a little disappointing, but I suppose not surprising.  Iterative sequels put money in the bank - I guess we should be thankful if one or two a year end up breaking new ground.

Posted by DerekDanahy

Awesome.

Posted by Lunar_Aura

Serious question incoming: 
 
When you play secret game covered in NDA sauce, do you have to do it with the lights off and the curtains down? Let's say your non-NDA friend just innocuously walks by your desk and sees you doing your thing. Could you get in trouble?
Posted by BionicMonster

Who seriously expects people to pay attention to the level names in an FPS anyway? The only FPS level names I can remember are from (ironically) Halo:Eombat Evolved, which are 343 Guilty Spark(probly because of the cinematic),The Library(because that level was NUTS),and Halo(because I played that level ALOT). I also remember "No Russian" from MW2, mostly because people keep pasting different heads on the guys in the elevator.

Posted by ajamafalous

Oh man, Jeff calling out the dude trying to get the first post is great. On one hand, if there was no quest rewarding that, it'd be totally ok, and I'm pretty sure the staff used to call people out on that kind of stuff, too. But now that there's a quest encouraging it, you can't help but feel for the guy.
 
 
@Jeff: Anyway, I always enjoyed the blog-type write-ups that you do from time to time. Would definitely enjoy seeing more of them.

Posted by Zeninnnnnnnn

I always wondered if things like this would happen. It seems like they do. I guess I kind of fall into the same camp as you, in that I do not take notes for things I might need to remember. Unless it's a super super minute detail that I thought was pretty interesting, notes are pretty much something I don't do.

Posted by Razputin

Hidden meaning: those two levels were nothing special. 
Weee!

Posted by glanesb

Again....your my hero

Edited by MAN_FLANNEL

I glanced at something regarding writing Halo and a quest. 
 
Umm... that screen shot was pretty cool.  I just noticed the "rstm" in gerstmann.  That's pretty cool too. 

Posted by Curufinwe

Halo, god only only knows.

Posted by Vinny_Says

yeah dude so like you totally don't like this game cause you obviously don't care cause you don't remember the level names!!
 
Yeah halo CE is one of my favorite games (don't bash me Jeff) but I sure don't remember the name of the level where you storm a beach. Library? Flood? no? FUCK!!

Edited by bellmont42

So basically what you're saying is... you try to enjoy games while you play them and let them try to have their intended impact on you instead of making it super serious business?? I have no issues with that.

Posted by Nyro
@ajamafalous: To be honest, this is the first time I've ever done that. I refreshed after I read it and saw no one posted, so I figured why the hell not. *shrug* I didn't even it get it so yeah...  
 *sad face?*
Posted by Delta_Ass
@blacklabeldomm said:
" yeah dude so like you totally don't like this game cause you obviously don't care cause you don't remember the level names!!  Yeah halo CE is one of my favorite games (don't bash me Jeff) but I sure don't remember the name of the level where you storm a beach. Library? Flood? no? FUCK!! "
I think you'd remember the Library level. It was awful.
Posted by punkxblaze
@blacklabeldomm said:
" yeah dude so like you totally don't like this game cause you obviously don't care cause you don't remember the level names!!  Yeah halo CE is one of my favorite games (don't bash me Jeff) but I sure don't remember the name of the level where you storm a beach. Library? Flood? no? FUCK!! "
Silent Cartographer.
 
BAM.
Posted by Vinny_Says
@punkxblaze: thank you I was actually wondering, I almost put Halo into my 360 just to find out :)
Posted by lizardspike

I really liked this preview, seriously it was sublime.

Posted by yoshimitz707

The hidden meaning here is that taking note is for losers!

Posted by TheHT

Dude... Duuuuuuude.

Posted by punkxblaze
@blacklabeldomm said:
" @punkxblaze: thank you I was actually wondering, I almost put Halo into my 360 just to find out :) "
I live to serve, comrade.
Posted by GoodKn1ght
@Delta_Ass said:
" @blacklabeldomm said:
" yeah dude so like you totally don't like this game cause you obviously don't care cause you don't remember the level names!!  Yeah halo CE is one of my favorite games (don't bash me Jeff) but I sure don't remember the name of the level where you storm a beach. Library? Flood? no? FUCK!! "
I think you'd remember the Library level. It was awful. "
Worst level i ever played...