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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halo: Reach Impression


Halo: Reach is the peak of Spartan gaming

Teased with ‘other’ Spartans in Halo Wars and ODST troopers in Halo ODST gamers finally get a chance to step into the Mjolnir of really real Spartans, ones they’ve read about in Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Ghost of Onyx (just to name two novels). Yes, Halo: Reach for Xbox 360 has been out for a few weeks and yes it’s fricking sweet but does it warrant new fans to finally take a look? Is there enough steam for series fans? Is this just a touched up ODST? Fine questions all, let’s get cracking on answering.

Gameplay – Long established, Reach is a first-person shooter with vehicular piloting/shooting thrown in. In these moments the action switches to a third-person view for driving/flying/shooting assistance. Fans and even noobs know what to expected from the core gameplay that is oh so polished. Ever movement, button press, action feels refined thanks to the history of this gaming engine and the development team. The new flying segments feel like a natural upgrade also. The multiplayer shines with a hefty offering of match types and will keeps fans playing for months. The campaign mode fires up and never lets down from the word go with action that transitions quickly from (rare) skirmishes to the all out invasion that is the tale of Reach. It’s a sad tale but one gamers will dig while the customization on multiplayer means no more canned teams/unit types, it’s all about upgrading this time around.

Graphics – Best looking game on 360? Top 3 no doubt but close to the best as the levels look amazing, offer a sense of scale that is breathtaking especially when the full scope of the invasion is digested by gamers. Every Covenant has received a facelift and the level of detail is spectacular even on items in the distance. The Spartans of Noble team look amazing and show that there is more than just Master Chief in this group of bad mo-fo’s.

Sound – As iconic as Star Wars and Mario, yes the compositions of Marty O’Donnell amaze and set the stage with sweeping tunes that excite the action and highlight the despair. Reach is a soundtrack to be owned. The voice work is outstanding and breathes life into these godlike figures in the same manner as the novels do. They are not all mission, order driven machines as Master Chief is (mostly that is).

Design – Single player campaign mixes up the action in ways no other Halo has by taking gamers seamlessly from action type to action type and back. Sitting in a turret then down on the ground and up in zero-g. Its seamless folks, very, very well done, great design here. The multiplayer creation options have been upgraded so grading the design here is pointless as it’s on the gamer to stretch the limits as few other games allow. A rock solid single player experience with one of the deepest, most polished multiplayer … that’s solid gaming design that a title like Reach needs to deliver.

Miscellaneous – Reach, a major blow to the mankind that is told in Halo: The Fall of Reach from Tor Books. In this tale of Master Chief’s rise the story of what happens planet side is only touched on and this epic battle is referenced so many times in other Halo novels, comics, animation and games. Finally getting a chance to go planet side, to see what happens is epic and sad. To fully experience the emotion of the single player campaign the other Halo media types need to be digested, this is the true Halo experience.

Overall Halo: Reach answers yes (and one no) to all the questions above and then some. Those yet to taste the Halo universe are provide a gorgeous, deep and engaging title that provides all the back-story needed and actually takes place before the first Halo on Xbox. The multiplayer is polished and amazing; this is really the pinnacle of Halo so jump in fresh. For series fans what is there to complain about? Go ahead, list complaints as there are no real ones. The formula has been taken through Halo 1-3, ODST and is now just a polished beast of a game. No, ODST is not in the house. While a fun romp ODST was all about the average man and what fun is that when there are planet invading scenarios and super soldiers to take command of.

Halo: Reach is a must have for all age appropriate gamers that own an Xbox 360. Outstanding single player meets deep multiplayer in one of the must have titles in 2010 and beyond. Yup, that good.

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