‘This is Spartan!’ Halo:Reach Reviewed

The final chapter of a truly legendary gaming saga comes to a close on Reach.

As the end approaches for the Spartan’s on Reach we take a look at Microsoft’s colossus and ask whether people will really ‘remember’ it? Here is the GamesMediaPro review of Halo:Reach

‘All good things must come to an end.’

At least this is how the saying goes. But will Halo:Reach stand up and be counted amongst the rank and file of the other sterling titles from Bungie and Microsoft Game Studio’s? Or will it simply falter under enemy fire and go running for the cover of the nearest foxhole? Join us as we review the final chapter in the story of the Reach franchise.

From the build up surrounding the launch of Halo:Reach you may have been forgiven for expecting a Hollywood A-List movie to be making its premiere screening as opposed to the launch of a videogame title, such was the anticipation created from the massive publicity campaign that has followed every moment of Halo:Reach from its conception to its birth. Never before has a videogame caused so much speculation and heated debate between critics and media pundits, and to be quite truthful we doubt that we will again see the like of the adulation that has been heaped onto the shoulders of Master Chief and his fellow Spartan’s for many a day.

Halo is not your normal FPS style shoot ’em up videogame. It’s much more than that. It is an entire generation’s upbringing and childhood all rolled up into one of the greatest online and single play campaign experiences that gaming has ever known. There have been many who have tried to take the crown from the head of the sullen Master Chief, but none have come close to touching the series of multimillion selling titles.

The gaming public love it, the press and reviewers love it too. Yet as we have said, all good things must come to an end, and even in the case of the record-breaking, best-selling video game of all time, which, in fact, has superseded all of its own records this year and outdone even the stellar Halo 3, where better to take the final stand than where the greatest stand of the Spartan’s was ever fought, than on the planet that spawned a thousand attacks from Covenant forces? None other than the infamous Reach itself.

So we begin at the point of the saga that began the nightmare for humanity as the long-established stronghold outpost of Reach is the victim of an attack on its population by an unknown and unseen enemy. You are Number 6, a Spartan recruit of some renown, and infamy, at  being a ‘hothead.’ You start you initiation into the legendary Noble Squad as you and your comrades are flown by chopper into the target zone of the attacks on the aforementioned planet. Right from the word go with Halo:Reach you will notice the differences as the graphics are far sharper and of a far greater clarity than  of the previous offerings from the award-winning franchise. As you swoop down from the sky like a hawk pouncing on its prey you are given lush vista’s and panoramic shots that fill your field of vision with your future battlefield. But boy! Doesn’t it look fantastic!

Everything about Reach is familiar, and yet at the same time credit must be given to the developers at Bungie for creating a world were even the familiar looks astoundingly fresh and new. Though not a towering seven feet tall Master Chief, you play a one of the ‘normal’ Spartan’s. Although from the missions that they undertake and their unswerving loyalty and sense of duty, there is nothing normal about these ‘super soldiers.’

In a world of first person shooters it is a fact that Halo has always stood head and shoulders above the competition and in Halo:Reach the gamer again gets to see just why that is. Towering above its rivals in every area Reach first pulls on its MJOLNIR armour and takes on all comers in its premium rate Single Player Campaign Mode. This is usually where we find out if a title will live or die, regardless of how well it plays in the multiplayer. If a title has no mode fo the gamer to enjoy in the comfort of his own home and in his own surroundings then as far as we are concerned it is Bantha Puttu. Halo:Reach takes the crown of have the very best of both worlds.  And how!

The single player of Reach takes players through the highs and lows of a small, band of hardened men and women as they fight for their very survival against insurmountable odds. The almost open world feel of the combat zones takes gamers to the next level a they can go back to the campaign many times over attempting tougher or easier levels and using different routes and objectives. The new look Spartan’s, with their adaptable combat armour and overhauled weaponry, look capable of anything as they stand their ground against the alien hordes of the Covenant, who throw the familiar enemies of Brutes, Grunts and those deadly Elites at the besieged heroes a they seek yo overrun the tactical stronghold.

With great intent the developers have tipped their hats at every previous incarnation of this ground breaking series of gaming history as you get a sense of Combat Evolved in the environments, with a smidgen of the fluidity in the gameplay of Halo 3. It all wraps up to be a stunning finale for what has to be the greatest first person shooter in gaming’s long and star-studded history.

Everything that could have been utilised in Reach has been. From your Noble 6 Spartan character tearing across the planet in a Warthog, to the simply awesome space combat mission as you pilot your Sabre high above the planet’s surface blasting apart Covenant ships in what ha to be one of our favourite parts of the entire game. High praise indeed for a mission that is only a fraction of the greatest gaming experience of 2010 so far. But the sweetest section of the flight control of these fantastic attack ships has to be when you soar high above the burning outline of the city on Reach as you pilot a Falcon airship through the thermals caused by the sacking and looting of the last human remnants of the planet of Reach.

The single player campaign has still got to be the highpoint of a title for us here at GamesMediaPro, and with Reach we can happily say that we were not disappointed in any way or shape. You won’t be either. For fear of adding too many spoilers and ruin what will, in fact, be the best gaming highlight of your year, we are not going to dwell on the game too much. We can only tell you that we have enjoyed the entire series of Halo. Right from the very first time we loaded up Combat Evolved we knew we were in for something a little bit special. With Halo Reach, that is exactly what Microsoft have delivered.

For most the experience of the story of Halo:Reach is where the gaming is at. For others it is in the titles multiplayer. We can tell you both that you will not be disappointed from either. The addition of the new weaponry and the perks such as the JetPacks, carry over into the top-class multiplayer section of the game and this is where the gamers will ensure that the legacy of Halo will live on, as here is where the true strength of the titles compulsively addictive gameplay comes into its own and dominates the online scene with little regard for its rivals as it leaves all comers in its wake.

The multiplayer in Halo Reach has once again received additional sparkle and polish from developers Bungie, and even though the low Pegi rating still allows for the majority of your opponents on Xbox Live to be the usual mixture of shouty teenagers or immature adolescents the option to simply mute the rantings of a homophobic racist is always the far simpler one as opposed to giving the attention seeking mouth breather the audience that they are desperately craving.

Indeed the private match function in Bungie’s excellent online and offline modes for Halo Reach works just as well, if not better in some instances, and you also have the added bonus that you have invited everyone in the lobby to be there and so any rantings can be suitably shut down or shut up.

But the inane drivel of a rambling 12-year-old is hardly the deciding factor on whether or not you should pop down to your local branch of Game and pick up a copy of Halo Reach, as indeed you should. What should be the absolute clincher for you on making the decision to buy the game or not is weighing up all the pro’s and con’s of the title and then making an informed choice. In that respect we would like to think that we have offered some bearing as to whether or not you will be meeting up with the GamesMediaPro GiMps online gaming clan and giving us some much-needed practice in FPS action. The game is simply stunning. From it’s quite literally brilliant online modes to its deeply involving storyline that lends pathos and meaning to the Halo franchise. We always knew that Master Chief was the last in the long line of the elite Spartan fighting force. We now understand why so much respect is paid to him for managing to survive such an assault by insurmountable odds in the first place.

Everything about this title has quality stamped all over it, and the fact that the collectors edition also comes available in the rather excellent ‘Legendary’ pack is no surprise to us at all for the word sum’s up all that is Halo. From the birth of this title all those years ago to its latest offering that brings the story of the doomed Spartans full circle, everything about Halo has ‘legendary’ written into every line of its coding. In fact we are sure that the inspirations for the entire series lies in another ‘legendary’ tale of a small handful of Spartans that stood against a mighty enemy and fought to the death even when all hope was gone. So it is with a line from the movie 300 that we close our review on the greatest gaming experience ever to grace your games console, replacing Covenant Brutes for Persian Hordes as a lone Spartan stands at the head of his outnumbered force, he turns to his alien enemy and informs him of the fact that:

” So you see, I brought more soldiers than you did! “

Graphics: Bungie have done wonders with the imagery on display in Halo:Reach right from the titles opening scenes as you swoop into the planet aboard a combat chopper. The colourful landscapes are panoramic in the scope and size and breathtaking in their clarity and detail. Everything from the improved look and sound of the game makes for a truly engrossing experience that will  be replayed and loved for some time to come.           9

Gameplay: Regardless of what anyone tell’s you there is nobody who has managed to make a third person shooter feel as good as Bungie have with the Halo series. The game plays out almost as deeply interactive as a movie at times and such is the strength of the writing that it is with a heavy heart that feel the loss of even a single comrade during the campaign mode. The controls are classic, as is the plot and we love them for it that they have taken something that most definitely is not broken and didn’t try to fix it. The most compelling FPS we have ever played to date on any format or gaming system, Reach is just that good.   10

RePlay Value: The best multiplayer of any title on any format of any genre with the best single player campaign utilizing the greatest storyline we he have enjoyed in a FPS title. Halo Reach doesn’t just raise the bar of first person shooters it asks for planning from the local authority to construct an extension.     10

Presentation: The Halo franchise, whether you love  the series or not, has done so much for the games industry that its success and importance is undeniable as a landmark in gaming history. There have been may others, many pretenders to the throne along the way but there has only ever been one true king.     10

 

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One Response to ‘This is Spartan!’ Halo:Reach Reviewed

  1. Can I place part of this at my personal site if I put up a reference to this website?

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