Halo Reach is the fifth game in the famous first-person shooter series developed by Bungie who jumped to fame in the industry thanks to Halo: Combat Evolved, back in 2001. This time, the story takes place before Halo 1 explaining the events that lead to the destruction of planet Reach, one of the biggest military colonies for the human race and the Master Chief’s escape in the Pillar of Autumn.
In the game, the player takes control of the sixth member of a Spartan squadron called “Noble Team”. You can customize how the armor looks in the menu and you will use that character in the campaign. It stays really faithful to what the games have looked and played like over the years. Just like in the previous Halo titles, you will travel around the environments shooting at the covenant either solo or accompanied by the common marines, picking up weapons of both human and alien origins to prevail in the fights and accomplish the mission objectives.
Graphically, the game looks extremely good. It carries some of the best graphics I’ve seen in a FPS this generation. Everything in the game runs perfectly: physics, lighting effects, texture details, etc. Bungie managed to take the great job it did with Halo 3 and ODST and took it to another level, pushing the Xbox 360’s power even further. I could notice a lack of anti-aliasing here and there but to be honest it’s nothing that looks bad or makes gameplay uncomfortable.
Just like always in the series, some of the best qualities the game offers are the sound effects, voice acting and of course, the soundtrack. The sound effects in the game are top notch. The player can easily notice everything Bungie did to recreate how an intergalactic war between humans and aliens would sound like. Every weapon shot, object, explosion, vehicle, crash, etc makes a sound and sometimes there are way too many things happening at the same time in a location and the sound effects never make a glitch or mistake.
The voice acting is incredibly good as well, the game relies heavily on it to tell the story and every conversation sounds very natural, every voice fits perfectly on the characters. While in-game, the marines talk a lot like usual and they have many lines so it’s hard to hear them say the same things like it happened in Halo 1 and 2. One important thing is that this time, the Covenant will not speak in English. All the races have “voices” but in reality are roars and screams fitting the high-pitched sounds the Grunts make or the scary voices of the Elites and Brutes.
Gameplay-wise the game is just as good. It keeps the same feeling every Halo game has. You can freely move around combining analog sticks and jump, melee attack, change weapons, reload, throw grenades and of course, fire you currently equipped weapon with the buttons in the controller. A new thing is that you can now grab some items which give your Spartan a certain ability like for example a sprint which allows the character to run faster for a few seconds, some other ones you can use are a jet pack used for huge jumps, a bubble shield which heals every Spartan inside it and a super shield which resists most attacks for an instant. They’re all very good and since you can only equip one at a time it makes great use of strategy to know which one you need, especially in Firefight mode.
Just like in ODST, Halo Reach has no dual-wielding. You can only carry two weapons like always but now you can only use one at a time. Some of the weapons from the previous games are gone, like the SMG and Battle Rifle. But there are a good bunch of new ones like the DMR (an assault rifle that fires one bullet for every button press), Plasma Repeater which is a crappy version of the Plasma Rifle and the Grenade Launcher which can be charged so the grenades lower bigger amounts of shield with every explosion. Most of the weapons are great and can kill pretty much every enemy with no problems. The new plasma repeater is the only one that always gives trouble, especially when trying to kill Elites or Hunters with it.
Reach doesn’t introduce any new races to the Covenant side but there’s a new kind of Jackal who doesn’t carry a shield but moves extremely fast and always comes in groups of about six of them, they are very tricky to kill and when together with the Elites they can be a real pain even to experienced players. The Elites are back and they’re definitely the best race in the Covenant, there are several kinds of them with different equipment and can carry pretty much any weapon, including the human ones.
Outside the campaign the game offers a great Multiplayer mode with pretty much any game type a FPS can think of. There are Slayer and Team Slayer in which the players compete to kill more opponents than the competition. Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, etc. Forge mode is back and better than ever. The players can do whatever they want to the maps so they can create any mode they want, change weapons and items locations, add objects and respawn points, etc. Like in Halo 3, Forge mode gives unlimited possibilities to the multiplayer mode and makes it one of the best in this generation. One of the great new competitive modes the game has is the Spartan vs. Elites mode in which players choose sides and play with different objectives. It’s a
great new mode because teams were always determined by the player’s colors regarding of the race.
Besides the great competitive mode, Firefight’s mode from ODST is back. This is a survival mode in which up to six players (four Spartans and two Elites) try to survive countless waves of Covenant enemies and every kills gives a score. The objective is not only to survive but to get a highscore by chaining kills and using teamwork with other players either in split-screen or online. Like in multiplayer, there are a lot of options to customize your games, from the weapons you’re going to start with to the enemies that are going to appear in every wave. Again, the possibilities are pretty much infinite.
Halo Reach is simply an excellent title worthy of the Halo name, it's definitely the best game in the series (technically speaking) and takes the Xbox 360's power to a whole new level. It's a great proof that a big name is not the only thing taking this series to fame and making the developers sell millions and millions of copies of them. I truly recommend the game. It's the best way to get into the series if for some reason you never played the original trilogy and ODST before. It takes place in one of the most amazing sci-fi universes out there, has awesome characters, weapons, narrative and environments.
- Excellent campaign with great action, enemies and weapons
- Huge multiplayer modes with both competitive and cooperative gameplay
- Answers a lot of questions left as plot holes in the original trilogy and ODST
- Some weapons feel useless in multiplayer
- Several campaign moments won't feel as good to people playing Halo for the first time
Graphics and Visuals…………9
Music and Sound Effects……..10