Sunday, September 19, 2010

Halo: Reach Review

Halo is the name that defines the Xbox. Whenever I get in an argument over Microsoft vs Sony I know I can bring out the Halo brand and I automatically win. This iconic series is seeing the last installment by the masterminds behind Halo, Bungie. As they move onto a new project with Activision, we are left with one final goodbye which ironically is the beginning of the story. Everything Bungie has learnt in the last 10 years is rolled into one complete package that is the best Halo game to date.

The story of the Noble team is one full of courage, sorrow and victory as they fight to save Human's existence on the planet Reach from the evil Covenant. This game is perfect for everyone as the story is a standalone episode that doesn't require any background knowledge. Halo fans of old will enjoy the hints to the story of Master Chief, as well as a special (but short) appearance during the game. Some much needed upgrades to the series have been added to keep both the campaign and multiplayer at a level that looks respectable with Call of Duty providing more depth than Halo in the past. It is a shame to see Bungie leave on such a good know because we know the talent and skill won't be shovelled into this iconic series. Halo: Reach is simply put, the best Halo yet.


Reach is a beautiful world that has sadly been overrun by the Covenant. Previous Halo games have been based in bland settings, but Reach takes us to the lush and stunning locations around the world. Huge draw distances and breath taking environments, not to mention the brilliant view from space, makes for one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360.

One of the strongest areas in the Halo series are the cutscenes which define the story and present some background information on the characters. The scenes in Reach are engaging and look great. Perfect casting for the voice roles really sets you up in Noble team knowing who will be friendly and those in the group that aren't as inviting.

Simply put, this is the best looking Halo game of the lot. Slick animations and the brilliant graphics have finally brought Halo into 2010. Areas that have been lacking compared to other similar shooters have been fixed; expect yourself to be amazed by how beautiful Reach is the first time you play through it. I literally can't think of anything to describe how wonderful Planet Reach is. Noble 6's adventure is really something that has to be experienced by yourself to truly value the extent of work put into this title.

The sound and voice acting is spot on. As I said before your Noble team has been perfectly cast and as with all Halo games, the soundtrack perfectly sets the tone for each and every part of the game. Those quiet stealth sections are completely silent except for the sound of your footsteps while big action scenes greet you head on with edgy music. Halo 3: ODST was the best ever game I have played at creating suspense. Halo Reach isn't right up at ODST's standard, but it does a very decent job at separating every part of the game.


If there was one thing that turned me off previous Halo games, it was the blatant reusing of areas. It got so bad in the original Halo I actually couldn't bring myself to finish a level. Thankfully Bungie has done away with any reuse, making Reach in my eyes, automatically the best Halo campaign. Within a limited number of missions the aim was to show of all the beauty of Reach as possible, I feel like they achieved their goal.

For the majority of Reach it is just as you would expect. Shooting the Covenant is in, as well as dieing multiple times trying to figure out how to strategically take out all your foes. The difficulty has spiked up considerably from previous versions to present a new challenge to seasoned players, but remains fairly easy for first timers in lower difficulties. Can't win by yourself on Legendary? This time instead of grabbing 3 mates to easily breeze through, the difficulty now increases everytime another player is added into the mix. This is an excellent move that provides even more fun.

The Reach campaign is a tonne of fun as you blast hundreds of Grunts out of the way, only to be slashed by a sneaky Elite who has managed to get behind you. As I'm sure you are aware, Halo goes into space as you fight to control a space station high above Reach. This new aspect of the Halo series is downright awesome, while probably being the easiest level in the game. The environments are continually changing, as are how you are fighting the Covenant. One minute you'll be with the entire Noble team on foot; next you will be a gunner on a chopper blasting unsuspecting foes below. Action packed isn't the right word to describe the campaign. The game does put you in some intense stealth areas that constantly have you on the lookout. The mix of areas fits well together, creating a near perfect campaign.

Topping off the campaign is... special abilities! Finally this allows us to sprint in Halo, something that has always been lacking, especially in multiplayer. The new abilities option allows you to choose one ability and have limited use of it using the LB button. They range from sprinting to a jetpack, armour lock-up and active camo. These bring a new level of strategy not only to the campaign, but the extensive multiplayer mode as well.

Multiplayer has been largely improved since Halo 3. While I wouldn't put it ahead of Modern Warfare 2's, it is certainly one of the best I've ever used. Firefight has made a comeback after it's debut in ODST. A complete overhaul has been made, making the original look like more of a beta version. The game is now completely customizable right down to the performance of certain enemies. Firefight matchmaking is also back and is heaps of fun once again. A new points system is in place, giving you something to aim for when playing multiplayer. Credits are earned that lets you buy new armour to personalize Noble 6. These changes are reflected in multiplayer and even the campaign, which is really cool. Earning x amount of credits lets you level up, unlocking more armour to buy. Abilities add a new twist and a voting system prevents those maps you hate from randomly being chosen by the system.


Halo Reach is the definitive title that defines what Bungie has been aiming to achieve since 2001. All of that passion has been channeled into Reach, creating the ideal game to say goodbye with. A story full of tragedy and despair makes way for what we know as the 'Master Chief era'. The superb multiplayer just sums up what this game was about, making everything bigger and better while keeping what works. I can hardly fault Reach and rarely a game does this. The highs and lows of the campaign will keep you glued to the TV until it has been finished, multiple times.

This is by far the best title in the series, something that shouldn't be missed. A majority of people who own a Xbox would claim they have played a Halo game. Everyone should be proud to say they own a copy of Halo: Reach, it is that damn good. As we say farewell to Bungie's involvement in the Halo series, it leaves us to wonder what is around the corner. A must own game. period.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 10/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Overall - 9.5/10