Review

Halo: Reach Review (Xbox360)

So, this is it then? Bungie's last Halo, the game that brings together ten years worth of work, the game that takes us back to the beginning, and the game that's supposed to be the most definitive title in the series. As someone who's been a fan ever since the first game, this has been a very singular experience. It's not often you witness a definitive event in a franchise that's shaped you as a gamer, and it's even rarer to be in a position to pass judgement. This definitely wasn't the most straight forward reviews I've ever done.
 

Even environments like this will seem familiar
When Reach was first announced, many thought that this may be one Halo game too many, that Bungie/Microsoft were coming dangerously close to over-milking the series - we're rather relieved to say that's not so. So much effort has been put into this game to make it a quality product, that in my more glib moments, I cheekily wonder why they couldn't have put in as much effort in their past games. On a serious note however you can't help but feel a little sorry for 343 Industries - this is going to be a tough act to follow.

A lot of the focus has gone into things we've already touched upon however during the preview stage: multiplayer, customization, Forge etc... Bungie haven't just wanted to make a game, they've wanted to make the most complete entertainment experience possible, encompassing an engaging story, an insane degree of choice, and a highly competitive environment - and it shows. The core concept of the game though as really been to improve on what's already there, rather than introduce something radically new, which we'll touch upon later.

First off though, we'll talk about the centrepiece of Halo: Reach - the story, which Bungie have been very tight lipped about. They've always said that they wanted to make their last game a lot more like their first. In our last interview, Brian Jarred said that this was due to the fact that one of the key pieces of feedback that they had received was that the fans wanted a game that played a lot more like Halo: Combat Evolved. They've have strived to try and capture that same magic - but how does one capture such a vague and ultimately personal experience?

For me, when it comes to the first game I have two very distinct memories: The first was when me and my younger brother, playing it on co-op, first encountered the flood in the level '343 Guilty Spark'. It was a late at night, for some reason we were playing it in the dark, and we were scared shitless - seriously. The other involves the level before that called 'Assault the Control Room', and what we would do is try and keep as many of the AI marines you could find alive as possible, and then storm the last Covenant stronghold towards the end of the level with an army. So, considering how that defined the 'magic' of the first game for me, and bearing in mind what Bungie were trying to do, I naturally looked out for traces of these elements.
 
It may not be a Warhog, but it creates roadkill just as well
Everyone will have their own unique memories though, and their own idea of what made Combat Evolved great. Overall, we think Bungie have succeeded in capturing a little bit of the 'essence' that was the first game. It's not the same, obviously - but how could it be? The story is nicely paced, it's engaging, and the ending - whilst not the ending I personally wanted for the series, is still well executed and ultimately satisfying. It's an interesting experience, watching the slow demise of a group of people and a planet that you already know is doomed.

If we want to be finicky, we noticed that the level design is similar to past games, which could be seen as a bad thing. We could also argue that 'Noble 6' actually has less of a personality than the Master Chief did. We're kind of sad he wasn't given a proper cameo - I mean this IS Bungie's last Halo game, and the big green giant deserves better treatment than an un-lockable voice. Also, one quick note - those expecting this game to either tie in or plausibly fit in parallel to the Fall of Reach novel will be disappointed - it really doesn't.

No review would be complete however without briefly commenting on the rest of the game. Although to be honest, between all of the extensive previews and interviews, we'd be surprised if there was anything you DIDN'T know about the other features, which is all Bungie have talked about pretty much. Forge we talked about a bit earlier - it truly is something else. There's a great set of tools available, and we can't wait to see what the community produce. Online Multiplayer you've no doubt played extensively, although for those that haven't, it's not too dissimilar to Halo 3 actually. Just replace items with armour abilities, slightly different weapon choices and balancing, and of course new maps. It's still going to be fun, and still going to be competitive, and the amount of game modes and customization available there will be to most people's liking.

There's Firefight as well - which has been greatly enhanced since Halo: ODST. Now that you can really fiddle with the settings down to the individual round, number of rounds... almost all of the parameters are available for customization. There's even a 'versus' mode where teams take turns at being on the covenant side. A lot of the improvements though have gone into matchmaking, and it's now possible to team up with random people off the network instead of having to have four people you know to team up with.
 
I think the main reason why Noble 6 doesn't have much of a personality is because he's so player defined
Ultimately, this is something you're going to have to experience for yourself. Bungie couldn't have given their last Halo game better treatment, and a part of us kind of hopes that Microsoft will just leave the core franchise alone, at least for a while. Everything has been enhanced and improved so much, that Bungie at least deserve kudos for all the effort they put in. This is definitely the most complete Halo game to date, and well worth the money. Hell, It may even live up to its own hype.

Best Game Feature: Hard to pin down. Multiplayer is as fun as always, the single-player is the best one since the first game, but I think the winner goes to Forge - we can't wait to see what the community comes up with now.

Videos

Comments

By noobst3R (SI Core) on Sep 12, 2010
noobst3R
Man, I just can't wait. I'm so glad this has some of the great suspense and feeling of the first game, which is still my favorite.

But tell me, what's the Master Chief voice unlock thingy?
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Sep 12, 2010
JustCommunication
Character Customization, if you earn enough points you can unlock different 'voices' for your Noble 6, the Master Cheif being one of them
By joethejanitor (SI Newbie) on Sep 12, 2010
joethejanitor
I got bored of the Halo franchise a while ago. Good thing it went out with a bang though.
By angelone (SI Veteran Member) on Sep 13, 2010
angelone
Seems to be a very good review of the game. What wasn't really touched upon was the soundtrack. I can't wiat to hear how the music sounds over the campaign, if it's like any halo game I've played hopefully it will be epic.
By Eversor (SI Elite) on Sep 13, 2010
Eversor
Too bad it is only on xBox 360. I can't seem to know why Bungie and Microsoft will only put Halo games on xbox. I mean they (microsoft) made Windows.
By Kres (SI Elite) on Sep 13, 2010
Kres
Well it's a shame I'm not really into Halo. Perhaps I should try...
By Mercy (SI Core) on Sep 13, 2010
Mercy
Kres you B@%$#@ your not into halo!? How dare you!

Eversor they do put halo on the PC the only halo game that will never hit the PC is Halo wars.

I can't wait for this one more day then my pre-order!!!
By Eversor (SI Elite) on Sep 13, 2010
Eversor
Mercy, they put two halo games (Combat evolved, Halo 2) on PC. They put Halo 2 on because they were releasing Windows Vista. Also, they put halo 2 on PC years after the original release.
By Kres (SI Elite) on Sep 13, 2010
Kres
Yeah I'm more into earthly weaponry Mercy :p
By Kres (SI Elite) on Sep 13, 2010
Kres
Yeah I'm more into earthly weaponry Mercy :p
By Mercy (SI Core) on Sep 13, 2010
Mercy
(Gives Kres a dark glare) I hate CODMW2...

and Eversor I know that I even bought halo comabt evolved for the pc before the xbox. It's because of modders they don't want the xbox players to feel left out.
By Eversor (SI Elite) on Sep 14, 2010
Eversor
Somebody ought to be making a PC version of Halo 3 by now.
By Mercy (SI Core) on Sep 14, 2010
Mercy
most likely give halo reach a few months and halo 3 will hit the pc.
By Eversor (SI Elite) on Sep 14, 2010
Eversor
Hopefully your right Mercy. I also ment to say earlier that Microsoft was doing a marketing ploy in releaseing Halo 2 on pc at the same they released Windows Vista.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Sep 14, 2010
JustCommunication
Well, whether or not Halo 3 and Halo: Reach will make it to the PC, it won't be Bungie who does it. 343 Industries will most likely handle any porting.

Can't see why they wouldn't, but I guess they want to protect their console's sales or something, which is a shame.

Saying that, they recently renewed their commitment to the PC platform, so who knows?
By Mercy (SI Core) on Sep 14, 2010
Mercy
I say that was just good time just the whole "hi were makeing a new windows seeing as were going to put halo 2 out for the pc lets let them out at the sametime."
By noobst3R (SI Core) on Sep 14, 2010
noobst3R
Yeah, PC port of Halo 3 please.

And oh indeed, I like the Halo soundtracks, but like the games, there isn't any better soundtrack than that of the first game.

JC, can you edit your review and add some stuff about the soundtrack? ;D
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on Sep 14, 2010
JustCommunication
No :P

Edit: That was just me jesting with Noob btw, for the rest of you, just a note on the Soundtrack:

The soundtrack is fantastic, don't get me wrong, but there's so much you could talk about with regards to this game, and I didn't want to the review to get bloated. It wouldn't affect the score anyway.
By Eversor (SI Elite) on Sep 15, 2010
Eversor
You said it Mercy.
By angelone (SI Veteran Member) on Sep 20, 2010
angelone
Gotta say the music is great! They remixed a bunch of the old themes and made them sound fantastic.
By Mercy (SI Core) on Sep 21, 2010
Mercy
No kidding man the music is amazing.
By noobst3R (SI Core) on Sep 23, 2010
noobst3R
I hate all these people in my XBL friends list talking about how to played the game to the end three times already. :(
By Mercy (SI Core) on Sep 23, 2010
Mercy
Everone has there own way of beating the game.