Reach for the stars, come on everybody! Halo Reach settles a little lower though, as it gives a polished but safe prequel to the trilogy. Shooting aliens with Spartans is always worthwhile.
Halo Reach tells the story of a team of Spartans who are tasked with the trickier business in the war with the Covenant. The team you’re part of all have different appearances and roles, but fit into the cookie cutter of generic characters, I never cared for any of their situations and they never say anything of note. Doesn’t affect the beautiful sci-fi world of mountains and cities or the solid gun play which has you killing the enemy in the way you want. Thin linear corridors lead to more open environments as usual, so you can use the guns you want and go about it how you feel, no failing for making stupid mistakes and it makes the game much more interesting than the standard corridor shooter. The Halo characters, aliens, weapons and vehicles have all become iconic after ten years now and they really add a depth of character even if the characters themselves are as two-dimensional as they come. Still the game has some really brilliant moments, combining the losing battle with stunning music and scenery.
The single player is solid if slightly underwhelming on narrative drive and new ideas, but the multiplayer is what most people come to Halo for. Reach has been doing some refining and the online is the tightest yet with the new powers taking centre stage. The powers range from limited sprint to jetpacks which adds an edge of strategy on top of the weapon and vehicle types. Level design seems to mainly be pulled from environments in the main game which are lavishly designed and forge allows users to edit their own death maps. As always Halo has all the options for the best online experience with level edits, plenty of active modes, guests online and the ability to record footage and share. Customisation is also a big new feature as my garish orange and green Spartan above shows. All cosmetic, so building a perfect Spartan out of purchased parts ain’t happening. The biggest problems with Reach online comes from the fact that skill level is high so you need to get used to things quick or enjoy a time of getting blown up. Maybe I just suck.
Halo Reach was a good way for Bungie to end their reign over the Halo franchise, though some extra care could have developed the good game into something incredible. Some better characterisation and set pieces would have made all the difference in making the fall of Reach something heartbreaking but the multiplayer is the most refined yet. Despite some disappointments, Reach still shows why Halo is one of the best fps series going. Not much can compete with it, almost out of this world. Almost.