As is normal, I'm a bit behind on this one, but here we go. I continue on my journey of beating every game that I purchase(d) this year.
Taking place during the events leading directly into Halo: CE , Reach follows the ill-fated final mission of Nobel Team, a group of Spartan-IIIs stationed on Reach. Whereas Master Chief remained a faceless protagonist, the members of Nobel Team are humanized through their relationships with each other and the simple act of removing their helmets. For the first time, you are able to see a Spartan for something other than a killing machine. While many people may complain that Master Chief isn't the protagonist of this story, I feel like I formed a closer bond to these Spartans than I ever did with Chief.
Through the eyes of the team's newest member, Nobel Six, we watch as a touching story about a group of soldiers willing to die for each other and what they believe in unfolds. Despite knowing they are going to fail, I found it almost impossible to not become attached to Nobel Team. This is where Bungie's lead writer Joseph Staten has outdone all previous Halo games. Having written for Bungie since Oni and been a part of every Halo game including the former Ensemble Studio's Halo Wars , Staten is no stranger to the universe. Even taking into account some continuity issues, he brings fans the best story possible (arguably best amongst all the games) in this final offering.
It's very rare for a game to invoke any type of deep emotional response from me beyond the satisfaction of getting that headshot or the thrill of barely making it to the next checkpoint, but Reach manages just that. Each mission brings you closer to the team as the games comes to one of the most emotionally engaging endings this year. While many games rely on cutscenes to sell each emotional moment, Bungie hands over the controls to the player in this final scene, and says, “You've come this far, so why not finish it yourself?” While this seems small, the effect it has on you is not.
With everything Reach has going for it, the game is not perfect. I find the AI spotty at best. The couple of times I let the AI drive a warthog ended with it either flipped over or constantly running into walls. I also found that a lot of times my squad mates seemed highly ineffective in battle, but at other times, they did almost all of the fighting. Then there is the space battle. The saving grace of this section is the length. It doesn't seem to reflect the quality the rest of the game has. Everything looks great, but the flight controls feel awkward at times.
I don't have a lot to say about multiplayer except that it is solid, and I can see myself playing it for awhile. The credits system is a great incentive to keep playing without handicapping newer players. I think the matchmaking, in terms of rank, could be improved; the credits (as good as they are) dictate the rank, but matching purely by rank, which is how it seems to work, is not always the best way I have found (either being on the receiving of giving end of said mismatch).
All in all, this is a solid final outing for Bungie, and I look forward to what ever they develop next. As the holder of the Halo franchise, I hope 343 Industries can live up to Bungie's legacy.