Game: Halo: Reach
Release Date:
14th September 2010
Platform: Xbox 360

Halo: Reach is the culmination of everything Halo. With the announcement that this will be the studio’s last entry into the franchise, they pulled out all the stops and have delivered us a package that is hard to fault in every aspect. It is a strong contender for Game of the Year, and something that will keep fans both old and new entertained for months to come. This is the definitive Halo experience.

Reach is fantastically well presented. From the sleek and intuitive front-end menus to the in-game visuals, everything is absolutely top notch. With an upgraded graphics engine, the team at Bungie has been able to expand the scope of the game with larger and prettier environments. You’ll see some absolutely stunning vistas all the way through, with epic, thrilling battles taking place in varied locations across Reach.

As well as the environments on Reach, you’ll experience an awesome space battle above the planet in order to defend it from the onslaught of the Covenant attack; it’s a great moment in the game that adds a fresh element to the mix. It’s a shame that I experienced quite a bit of slowdown with the game, especially in the larger set pieces, and this really detracted from the fast pace that is so classic of a Halo title.

Reach is a departure from the adventures of Master Chief, featuring a great new cast of characters. The characters all have varied and unique personalities, with the obvious clichés of a headstrong captain figure and a tough heavy weapons expert. You play as Noble6, a new member of the team that joins right at the beginning of the story. Being a prequel, the outcome of Reach is inevitable from the start, yet the game does a great job of maintaining a tense atmosphere that keeps you wondering if victory is still possible, yet as you experience each major battle, the imminence of defeat becomes more and more apparent until its climactic and touching ending, which I obviously wont spoil.

The audio work in Reach is a standout. With excellent voice acting, classic Halo sound effects and a score that is worthy of endless praise, the audio aspect is exemplary across the board. There’s nothing better than hearing the satisfying popping of an Assault Rifle to Marty O’Donnell’s spine tingling orchestral work.

 

 

There is a lot new to Reach. As well as the improved visuals, there are new, old and modified weapons to play around with. With the Halo franchise having such a large emphasis on shooting, its great that Bungie has again excelled with the feel of the gunplay, with spot on controls and satisfying sound effects. There are great new weapons such as the Needle Rifle or the Grenade Launcher, which all look fantastic, with immense amounts of detail. Modified weapons from past Halo games such as the Assault Rifle and the new DMR (formerly the Battle Rifle) take on a new design look in Reach, and all look really great and have changed slightly to add a more balanced feel to the weapons, especially when it comes to multiplayer. As well as the weapons, there are new armour abilities, which are a progression from the tech power-ups from Halo3. Armour abilities such as Jetpacks, Camouflage and Holographic Decoys, amongst others, all add a new dimension to the gameplay both in single player and multiplayer.

Obviously, multiplayer is an absolutely huge part of Halo. Luckily, the multiplayer in Reach is absolutely phenomenal. Featuring absolutely fantastic amounts of depth, customization and character progression, Reach is a title that can take up your online hours for months to come. There’s a great system of leveling up, and earning credits to purchase new upgrades for your armour becomes addictive. These upgrades are visible both in multiplayer and in single player, giving a great personal feel to your character. My only criticism for Reach would be the amount of maps on the disc, which is quite limited for such a multiplayer oriented title, with a lot of the maps being maps from previous Halo titles, and also the lack of new game modes, with the same recurring modes being present here. These are minor gripes, considering the inevitability of downloadable map packs, and the vast amount of game modes that are already on offer here.

If you thought that a single player campaign and a multiplayer offering weren’t enough here, then you’re in for a lot more to do. Theatre and Forge make a return in Reach, with all new Forge World being a completely new take on the old map editor, with more options and an entire map designed specifically for Forge enthusiasts. The Theatre is as good as always, with great editing tools, perfect for creating your own gameplay videos of your awesome kill streaks.

Halo: Reach is a stellar title; one that sets the bar for the amount of top quality content that can be packed into one disc. Everything that is on offer here is of a standard that could stand alone as a game and still receive fantastic praise. The single player is both compelling and touching, with a great lead up to the main Halo story arc. The multiplayer is as strong as ever, and a worthy opponent to the monster that is Modern Warfare 2, providing great customization and progression elements. On top of this, the Theatre mode and improved Forge options add that little bit extra that goes a whole long way. After nearly a decade of great Halo games, Bungie ensured they were going to go out with a bang before they moved onto new things. I cant recommend Halo: Reach enough, and all I can say is that you should go out and buy it, because there is enough on offer here to satisfy most players needs.

9.5/10

Presentation: 10

This is an example of a game that provides so much in such a good way that it is hard to fault.

Gameplay: 10

With perfect presentation comes faultless gameplay. Everything here is the result of years of refining every element of the Halo franchise to the highest possible quality.

Visuals: 9

Stunning vistas are slightly marred by quite frequent slowdown

Audio: 10

Everything you want in a Halo title is apparent here

Lasting Appeal: 10

With everything that I’ve mentioned, I don’t think there is much left to say about how much there is to do here.

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