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Halo: REACH Review

Well, after a long hiatus, the Doctor is back and in charge of writing the latest installment of the Halo franchise, Halo: Reach. Moondoggie82 gave me this honor simply because he knows damn well that I have never been a fan of any Halo game, and if anyone was going to give an honest review it was gonna be me. So let’s get started…

If this is truly Bungie’s last production of the game that put Microsoft’s Xbox on the platform map so many moons ago, then they’ll go out on top. One of the first things that I noticed about Halo: Reach is the finely tuned menu system, which not only offers new gameplay modes like Firefight from O.D.S.T., (think of “The Horde” from Gears of War or “Nazi Zombies” from Call of Duty: World at War) but the main menu now displays the status of your friends who are playing Reach and allows you to peruse their service records and invite them into your party or join up with them for Co-op gameplay. Halo campaigns, for me, have been boring, tedious, run-and-gun sessions which really didn’t show me any sort of challenge, with mindless A.I.’s standing in place and waiting for me to waste them. Here, this is where Halo: Reach is much different.  Not only has the A.I.’s aiming been improved, their evasion tactics and their battlefield skills seem to have been enhanced as well.  Simply put, if they spot you, they are gonna come for you.  Many times I’ve been flanked by Elites and had a sticky grenade thrown on me with deadly accuracy, which made me question once or twice if was I playing the solo campaign or the multi-player.

The campaign offers a non-linear feel, which I hate, but inviting a party to the melee makes it more enjoyable.  Picking your own routes through the battlefield is more exciting, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re up against waves of enemies that require diversions to take down, you might wanna stick together.  Though some say the friendly AI is generally useless, I found it helpful while taking gunfire while I planned strategies.  FYI, it does have trouble when it comes to driving any vehicle, so you’re better off driving yourself or trusting your co-op friend behind the wheel.  The early levels do start off kind of slow, but this is only to build up to the climactic end of each chapter.  There are some good dramatic turns, and the in-game musical score keeps the pace from fading out as the game builds toward what will be not a happy ending.  Your missions take you through well designed maps, like war ravaged farms to military outposts and from mountain valleys and ranges to newly covenant invaded city streets. Levels are often expansive, and allowing for some nice gameplay.  In addition to a number of classic vehicles from previous games, there are a few new rides to tear it up with.  There’s also a space-flight area in the game’s midpoint; this was one part I did enjoy because it was third person perspective, and only wished to see more of it throughout the game.  Your Noble teammates’ personalities and roles in the game were well designed and fun to have with you, but as you know their outcome is doomed from the start and you as a player almost feel melancholy when the story takes them away as it builds your character’s role in humanity’s fate.

A vast array of customization options are also available in competitive multiplayer.  In the Custom Game mode, you can enhance the conditions of any game type to unbelievable lengths or use subtle changes to make it a little more interesting.  As in previous Halo games, the possibilities here are vast, and the easier to navigate interface makes them all accessible.  Competitive matchmaking is once again a major issue in Halo: Reach. Before you jump in, you can change a few variables in your psych profile to indicate that you prefer anything from team oriented players to solo artists, or want to avoid punk ass 10 year olds who love to talk crap by stating you’re a quiet gamer.  I found the last one more enjoyable because we all know everyone on XBL is a tough guy when they know they’ll never see you face to face.

Returning is the Forge, the amazing editing tool that gives you the option to get your creative juices flowing.  There are nine Forge-able maps, including the massive Forge World, and they are all changeable.  The possibilities are nearly endless, from building a brand new level from scratch to changing a preexisting one to fit your own style, and either having a sniper’s paradise or one hell of a vehicular slugfest.

I can honestly say that this is the one and only Halo game that i truly enjoyed enough to purchase after rental.  Even though the original creators have abandoned ship, and Microsoft now has the creative rights to the franchise, Halo fans had better keep this prequel in memory as the measuring stick for all future Halo games that will be pushed out by anyone brave enough to take the reigns.

Final Verdict for Halo Reach:

5 out of 5