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Game On, Bitches: Halo Reach

09.14.2010

HALO: REACH

BUY THIS GAME AT AMAZON.COM NOW!!!

Developer:Bungie
Publisher:Microsoft Game Studio
Systems: XBOX 360

At the chagrin of my family and friends, I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with HALO: REACH this past weekend. While I have yet to finish the single-player, I feel comfortable enough to share with you my likes and dislikes of the whole package. Don’t consider this a full review; consider it just a taste of my experience. Would you trust a movie review from someone who left the theater early?

WHAT I LIKED

Level design, graphics, sound, and gameplay. If you’ve ever played a game in HALO series, you already know that the developers consistently deliver the best game design in the business. The levels, its’ look and feel, and the gameplay are only rivaled by the cream of the crop in the medium. Games like CALL OF DUTY, BIOSHOCK, and MASS EFFECT 2 are HALO: REACH’s classmates in such a regard. HALO: REACH keeps the bar incredibly high with error-free movement, gorgeous vistas, and a soundtrack that outshines most movies. Anyone who would knock these elements wouldn’t know excellence if it smacked them in the face.

An emphasis on co-operative play. Without a doubt, HALO: REACH was designed to be played with friends. This statement refers to both the campaign and the multiplayer elements. In the campaign, Master Chief has taken a back seat to a whole squad of Spartans looking to rip through some Covenant punks. The squad-base gameplay lends itself perfectly to co-operative play outshining the tacked on co-op found in HALO 3. The maps, the weapons, and the enemy tactics have all been tweaked to make this one of the best co-op games of the generation. While I still like the LEFT 4 DEAD series as the best co-op games, HALO: REACH is a must own for die hard co-op fiends.

Multiplayer depth. Raising the bar yet again, HALO: REACH is the current definitive multiplayer experience available on a console. The multiplayer mode is designed to be its own beast that players will spend days, months, and years investing their time. It’s the pinnacle of competitive gaming and this version will continue support the culture that the HALO series has created. The new maps have been incredibly enjoyable, the new modes are smartly crafted, and the numerous options available will leave even the most hardcore with something new to try. HALO: Reach delivers what you’d expect and more from HALO multiplayer.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE

Why is HALO turning in to Madden? Why does it feel like HALO is just turning into another franchise that has to be purchased year after year? While the multiplayer is deep and addictive the changes and add-ons seem more like seasonal upgrades rather than innovation. While I understand that consumers want to just play the same old game from one iteration to the next, I am starting to feel that the game is becoming a bit redundant.

Where is my refresher? I’m not the world’s #1 HALO fan. So, I don’t have memorized all of the minutiae of the Halopedia or the HALO universe. Therefore, popping in this game I had no idea what was going on or why I was doing it. Perhaps, the devs would have been smart to have an offered an optional “Previously in the HALO series” introduction. I know I’m not the only one... and I might just be in the majority.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My final thoughts (for now) on HALO: REACH are that the game is yet another step into the HALO universe. Graphics and gameplay are prettier, bolder, and new. Storytelling is more of the same - entertaining for die hard fans but not exactly a story that translates across all palettes. If you are a fan of HALO 3, I expect that you will have a great time with this game. For everyone else, keep your expectations in check and you’ll be happy with the results.

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