If you call me out for being overly sentimental to the point of zealotry, I wouldn't care. This franchise is near and dear to me. Once in a while, there comes along a story that ingrains itself in a generation. For mine, it's Halo
. Released back in November 15, 2001, Halo
took the gaming world by storm. It was a sprawling Sci-Fi epic that gave players the mysteries of a dead alien race, a bloody war, and some of the most iconic characters in video game history. Along with the introduction of the Wii gaming system, I argue that nothing has brought video games to the mainstream audience more than Halo
. By introducing the world to an easy-to-learn, fun-to-play, impossible-to-put-down multiplayer, anyone who played video games could do nothing but grab their friends become engrossed in the Halo experience. After an amazing trilogy, a spinoff game, and numerous bestselling novels, Bungie decided to end their involvement with Halo in favor of developing a new independent project. The game really is a bag of emotions; while Halo Reach
truly does go out with a bang, it's at the cost of knowing that they will never return with their brand of attention and love they have given to their "Halo nation".
In Halo Reach
, humanity is at war with the devastating Covenant, an alien race that deems humanity as an insult to their religion and rejects any attempts of diplomacy. You, as the player, enters the role of noble six - a new addition to a team of Spartans on the doomed planet of Reach (as mentioned numerous times in many other Halo stories). What starts out as your team scouring the countryside for rebels soon turns into a full on invasion by the Covenant. As death and destruction rain down on both the military and the civilians of the planet, it's up to Noble team to minimize the death toll and discover humanity's best chance at survival.
This is the darkest out of all the Halo games; death is a constant companion with you as you move from one location to another. There's a constant sense of dread knowing full well that Reach will eventually fall to the Covenant, but, unlike many prequels, the story doesn't pertain to most of the characters in any other Halo games making the storylines unpredictable and exciting. Taking a cue from Halo 3: ODST
, the facial animations look incredible and expressive. The graphics engine has been given an entire overhaul as every character design, from lowly farmers to Covenant cruisers, everything you can see looks stunning. Each member of Noble team has a distinct look and sound to each soldier, which avoids confusion storytelling-wise; however, unlike previous Halo games where other soldiers were merely set dressing for the environment, the members of Noble team that fight with you in the battlefield fight intelligently and efficiently like extremely capable soldiers. Every time you fight without them (especially on the harder difficulties) you will notice that you're getting your butt handed to you more often than you would like. Classic weapons have been given retro-upgrades taking stable marks of the franchise such as the plasma rifle, battle rifle, and pistol and retooling them that makes the weapon selection the most perfectly balanced one in the entire franchise. New weapons and equipment such as Jetpacks, the Target Locator, Grenade Launcher, Jetpacks (FRIGGN' JETPACKS!!!), the Needle Rifle, Holograms, JETPACKS
, and other such wonderful tools of mayhem await your approval. Did I mention that they have friggn' sweet Jetpacks in this game? No? Well there are friggn' sweet Jetpacks in this game.
Voice acting is definitely up to caliber with the standard of what modern games are demanding: the V.O. work is brilliant and every character is distinct which is a pretty difficult task when you consider that for most of the time these characters' faces are obscured with helmets. I won't spoil it, but besides the voice actors that reprise their roles for the 'Firefight voice', there is a surprise appearance by a certain voice actor who should make you giddy with joy when you hear his/her voice. Martin "Marty" O'Donnell returns as music composer for the game, but this time gives a much more nuanced and darker feel to the music. Every bit of sound, whether it be guns firing, rocks crumbling, things blowing up, someone hitting an enemy with their fist, etc. is right on par with the graphics. What I also really love is the fact that Bungie has finally done something that no other Halo
game has: they've incorporated more of the expanded universe into the story. Things such as ONI military intelligence and people like Dr. Halsey aren't just thrown in the mix, they take center stage in terms of the events in the game. A move that made me happier as I got to learn more from this rich universe of material. Also, you get to meet some of the indigenous lifeforms on Reach, and trust me, one of them will make you poop yourself in terror.
My 'negatives' list is short, but must be mentioned: the A.I. is dumb when it comes to driving cars (I guess everyone on Reach gets their License when their 42),...um...the game is really hard when you set it to Legendary...and...uh...uh...Guilty Spark doesn't make a cameo appearance? Ok, seriously. I've got nothin' else. It's an amazing story that hits EVERY note you want it to and more! Throw in some of
the best multiplayer I've ever played with a system that lets you not only customize your own personal soldier but also an entire world of a multiplayer map and you've got yourself a golden ticket to awesome-town. Population? You and anyone else who's smart enough to get this game.
This is not the 'swansong' of the Halo
franchise, since, unlike the metaphor, this swan has sung beautifully since it first came to the gaming pond for a drink. I'll see you on the battlefield, fellow Halo-heads!
My review: BUY IT! BUY IT NAHW!!!
thanks for the memories. You're just one more step closer to world domination.
With Love, your loyal grunt,