It's everything Bungie's last Halo game needed to be.
Halo Reach Review
Changing the Halo formula is a very risky business, there is no doubt about that. The beta for Reach that was run earlier in the year had a pretty mixed reception. I for one did not like the changes they had made the mechanics of the MP, the armour abilities and weapons didn’t seem right yet. However, that was a beta and this is the final game, and I can say that I have never been so pleasantly surprised by a game in my life.
Reach takes place literally right before the events of the first Halo game. The game will shed more light on how the events of that game came to pass, through the actions of a Spartan squad called Noble team. You take on the role of the new member, dubbed “Noble 6”. I won’t say too much about the story as it is an important part of the experience, however I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed by the time the credits rolled. The characters and the overall motivation just weren’t up there with what previous games have done in the series.
The biggest change in Reach is the gameplay, anyone who hasn’t played much Halo will most likely just brush these off as little changes. However, if you (like me) have played a lot of Halo, the changes are pretty huge. The speed of the game has been increased, which adds a sense of urgency to your mission and gives the game a much needed nudge. Weapons behave very differently this time than in Halo 3, and the infamous elites make an all mighty return as the primary enemy you’ll fight along the way.
The biggest change is the addition of the armour abilities. These allow you to permanently store a trick up your sleeve. Everything from the beta is here (if a little different) and some new ones make an appearance. The biggest impact these have is in the games multiplayer, something Halo is famous for. This addition definitely changes the Halo experience, but taking the previous games for what they were, when they were; Halo Reach is easily the superior game.
Mechanically speaking the game isn’t all that different from previous Halo games. The same triple threat mix of guns, grenades and melee is still present and Reach has some great new weapons to boot. Health makes a return for the series in an attempt to make players behave a little more cautious and think tactically about going into a situation, health packs are plentiful, but you will need to learn how to pace yourself to take full advantage of them. Your armour abilities are always there but have a charge time between uses, some shorter than others and the game gives you plenty of opportunity to switch things up in that department.
The games single player is a little lacking in the story and character department, something which towards the end annoyed me a little. I just found myself getting through the fights as quickly as possible to get to the MP side of things. As well as the gameplay, forge has received a huge overhaul along with the fire fight mode that made its debut in ODST. It would simply take too much time to list all the ways in which they’ve been improved, but let’s just say the amount of scope here is absolutely incredible.
Now, the multiplayer; is pretty damn fun, like always. As I said, it is a different experience than before, but it’s still Halo and plays like Halo. If like me you had gripes with the armour abilities and weapons being uneven in the beta then every issue I noticed has been resolved. Like with forge and fire fight, there is also a huge amount of customisation options in Halo Reach’s MP, they walk hand in hand with forge and you can be sure to see some interesting new maps and variants.
The biggest thing for many people when it comes to Halo is the MP. Reach’s is different, yes, but good different. It makes Halo feel new again and reintroduces it to everyone in the same manner. All the maps this time are brand new and all of the ones I’ve played are a lot of fun and seem well balanced (for now anyway) and the new game modes take full advantage of the armour abilities. The biggest change here is that Spartans and Elites play very differently from one another. Elites are much bigger, faster and stronger than Spartans, however Spartans have their own tricks to bring to the fight. Weapons are not shared, so you’ll only get access to certain weapons as the beginning of games depending on your character. Both characters offer a very different style of play and only enhance the amount of depth that present here.
Odds are you’ve already made up your mind whether or not Halo Reach is worth buying. However, if you’re unsure for whatever reason and wonder if Halo can deliver without the help of the Chief, then you should at least try Reach. It doesn’t reinvent the Halo wheel, but it is different in all the right ways and maintains the key ingredient for this type of game, fun. The overall worth of the package on display here is simply amazing, as I said there simply is no way to fully describe it in words (you’d have got bored by now) so if you’re unsure, take a change with Reach. It does so much right you’re bound to find something that suits your needs and is worth your time.