X Box 360
The Halo franchise has quite a few titles in it. From the standard numbered games, to the 343 Studios abominations Halo has certainly created a name for itself. After the end of Halo 3, the supposed final game in the story of Master Chief, Bungie felt like they needed to release a new Halo game. Out came Halo: Reach. Exclusive to the 360 Halo fans were jumping for joy as they found out they will return to Reach to take part in the actions in an event that took place before Chief’s rise to power.
As previously mentioned, Halo: Reach is a prequel to the first Halo game, Combat Evolved. If you have played a Halo game and were able to stay awake from the story you should know what happens to the planet Reach. Now I do not know if this counts as a spoiler considering it is common knowledge that Reach blows up. So you know the ending. I guess Bungie’s thought process was to show fans what happened on Reach through an interactive environment. I can respect that. Just reading or hearing what has happened from someone that wasn’t there can alter how you perceive the story. However, for me, this was sullied by the inclusion of advanced weaponry and gadgets. As you play through Reach you take on the role of a Spartan, Noble Six. This queues the one man army scenario where you must do all the work because the AI may as well be hitting their head against the closest brick wall.
The story is understandable and I can see why Reach was created. While I do not necessarily think the game was needed to enhance the dull franchise others would disagree. Reach offers a “new” story with new weapons, a space dogfight and a buttload of Spartans that do not stand out barring the big guy, the woman, and the guy that may be the minority but you aren’t sure because you never see his face. Standard character archetypes aside you actually see some spartans without their helmets. Bungie probably did this as a way to give characters more of a presence or meaning so that when everyone dies because the planet blows up you should begin to feel sorry for the spartans with a face.
The gameplay is standard center the target in the middle and pull the switch. There is little strategy or skill required to play this game. If you are beginning to die, stand behind a wall and your shield will regenerate. Bungie did go back to health packs like in the original Halo but they are everywhere and you may as well have regenerating health because every corner you turn there seems to be a health pack. Spartans used to have cool gadgets like Batman to make them “more effective”. There are multiple types of “power ups” which include a sprint, shield, jet pack and active camo. Yeah this seems like pretty advanced technology to me, but I will get to that later. These are supposed to change up the style of gameplay. The shield protects you from everything until the energy runs out. The sprint makes you, well, sprint. Active Camo makes you invisible when you aren’t moving and the jet pack makes you jump really high. Advanced stuff in the past, I wonder why Chief never got a hold of this stuff in the future.
Some new weapons include the Needler rifle, a rifle that acts like a bolt action version of the needler. The gun sucks and I see why the Elites trashed it. There is the DMR which is a semi automatic version of the battle rifle so more single shot weapons. That is all that comes to mind when it comes to new weapons. There is a super powerful weapon that simulates the Hammer of Dawn from Gears of War but I don’t really count that. There are many details of this game that I don’t remember because quite frankly they are so dull they don’t stick out. Needless to say, the Spartans seem to be very well equipped for the fight on Reach. When you connect this game to the previous trilogy you begin to wonder, “Why are any of these gadgets and weapons in the future?” I wonder that too. According to Bungie, the plans for the jet packs and weapons were lost when Reach blew up. Talk about a gigantic cop out.
Bungie actually expects me to believe this. Interplanetary space travel, genetically altered super humans, and the ability to hollow out planets and house entire civilizations inside and these people cannot send an email? The typical fan/elitist rebuttal for this is, “Well the humans did not want the Covenant to have access to human technology.” While this would be a good reason the fact that humans have access to shields is because they stile it from the Elites. I doubt the Covenant cares about human technology. They would probably end up being stupider for looking at such ancient technology when compared to theirs. However, this is science fiction, logic should not be a factor, but come on, a little common sense would be nice.
I may be finicky when it comes to these games and I hold them to a higher standard because there are so many games that belong to this franchise and they are so highly praised. I see why people like these games. They are simple, easy to learn and easy to follow. While the game holds your hand constantly I felt like I wanted to do something that was not following orders. I want to do something that isn’t being a voices’ henchman for 5 hours. The gameplay is boring, and typical of a FPS title. The bland map design makes it seem like you are playing the same level over and over again with a different texture pack.
Besides the predictable story, Reach does not offer anything new to the gameplay that sets it apart from the other Halo FPS titles. Multiplayer is available as well as co-op if you have Xbox Live Gold. I give Halo: Reach a 3/10. I like the direction of finding out what happened on the planet Reach. It was just so poorly executed I was left bored and not amused.
1.5 out of 5 Nerds
Zach ‘The Crowbar’ Martinez