Sunday, December 5, 2010

Another Halo:Reach Review Sort-of-Thing

Halo Reach review sort-of-thing

Player Chronicle -- Posted on Oct 18 2010

Arriving late to the party is my review of Halo Reach. The last title in the Halo franchise to be developed by Bungie, is Reach the penultimate Halo experience, or does it fail miserably?

Truthfully, a little of both. As a person who LOVED the original Halo, I bought the trilogy of paperback novels that were available. The Fall of Reach novel created an excellent narrative of what exactly the humans were up against, and there were quite a few epic space battles fought in the distant systems that the game never touched on. Basically, the humans are f***ed when fighting the covenant in space. The covenant's technology is far superior to the humans, and the only thing that seems to work is that the humans have to sacrifice entire ships as shields to block plasma volleys. Yet they never touch on that in the game. It would have done a tremendous job of conveying the feeling that Reach is royally screwed. Not to mention that the only hint of a space battle in the game is remarkably less than epic. According to the book, The UNSC had something like 100 ships in and around the planet, along with 20 orbital super MAC guns. They were invaded by hundreds more covenant ships as well. Yet, we only see one installation in the space battle section, and very few ships from either side. Then there's the whole business about the Pillar of Autumn never landing on Reach in the first place.

The Pillar of Autumn, along with the Master Chief, Keyes, and Cortana showed up late to Reach, as they were out of the system at the time the invasion began. Not only that, but it was literally about a half hour from the start of the Invasion until the covenant began glassing the planet. I guess that might not have been good time frame to base a game off though. In short, they never had time to land on the planet, and Cortana was already on board, so basically, they raped the story. Along with that, the voice acting is competent, but is just so dull, you never quite get the feeling of desperation and hopelessness they seem to want you to feel. Not to mention I felt absolutely no compassion for Noble team.. They're just bland across the board. But anyway, how about that gameplay?

The gameplay itself is very similar to other Halo titles. Move along the path shooting everything in the face until you're told where to go next. This time, however, they added a blossoming reticle to the mix. Whenever you fire a weapon, the reticle expands, increasing the chance of your weapon being off-target. Basically, it makes them less accurate if you fire them quickly. It's not innovative by any means, but it is a nice change of pace for a Halo title.

Also new to the franchise (and I say "to the franchise" because Red Faction Guerrilla used this system first) are armor (backpack) abilities. Ranging from sprinting to temporary invulnerability at the cost of mobility, armor abilities are basically Reach's equivalent of equipment from Halo 3. I feel the need to bring this up. Spartans are not your typical humans. They are augmented so that their bones are practically indestructable, they see better, run faster, jumper higher, and all that good stuff. WHY IN THE HELL CAN'T THEY SPRINT WITHOUT THE ARMOR ABILITY? Some argue the armor weighs a lot. Let me refer to the books again. Their armor is practically weightless. I mean, it does weigh a lot, but not to them. The armor exaggerates their movements, so they are able to move much faster and react quicker, and with less effort. So yeah, there's no reason you should need the armor ability to sprint, and I would assume a super soldier should be capable of sprinting longer than 5 seconds before becoming winded.

The multiplayer is probably what everyone bought this game for though, and luckily, it is probably the best multiplayer since Halo 2. First of all, grenades actually do damage again, so I liked that right from the start. The bevy of different playlists and modes ensures that you'll like [i/something[/i] they have on offer as well. Once you select a playlist, you'll be given three random options on what map and game-type to play. This works well enough. My only problem with it is the Rumble Pit playlist is boring. People will rarely pick oddball or headhunter, so it's pretty much always straight-up slayer. More variety would be nice. Some gametypes give you loadouts to select which is pretty much an armor ability with weapons suited for it. For example, the recon loadout is the sprint ability paired with a DMR and (I think) a pistol.

There are a couple new gametypes added to the mix as well. The aforementioned Headhunter is a fun spin on slayer. Whenever you kill an enemy, a skull will pop out. You need to collect these skulls and return them to capture points to earn points. Unfortunately, you'll probably never get to play it unless you can convince people in the team objective lobby to pick it. It rarely shows up in rumble pit, or big team battle, and when it does, it's almost never voted on. Stockpile has you collecting neutral flags that spawn at semi-random places on the map that you must return to your base. Invasion is a completely new gametype that pits elites vs. spartans. The spartans have to defend points, while the elites attempt to take them over. It's set in 3 phases with changes occurring to loadouts in each phase. Invasion is set on the larger maps in the game, Hemorrhage, and Boneyard, so be prepared to spend most of your game just getting across the map.

Firefight also makes its return, and this time, it has matchmaking. This is where I spend the majority of my matches, but it's getting old. The matches are always 5 waves on heroic difficulty, and always with the same two skulls on. ALWAYS. I hear they're changing this up a bit with a new update, but really, this could have had more going for it when the game was released. Even simply being able to select your difficulty would have been good.

Borrowing from the success of the Call of Duty series, there's now a credits system. Everything you do in the campaign, multiplayer, and single player rewards you with credits. You get a few credits for each kill, with an opportunity to earn more credits by completing daily and weekly challenges, as well as earning commendations for things like headshots, kills with heavy weapons, and so on. Everything that can be purchased with credits is purely cosmetic though. It would have been nice to be able to buy something that actually does something in the game, such as cheats to use in campaign, things to use in forge, or whatever. It feels tacked on, and does nothing to enrich the multiplayer experience.

Forge is also back, and they give you a great big open canvas to work with. I've made a couple maps with it, and the tool is pretty easy to work with, as long as you're willing to improvise. There's a limit as to how many of a certain type of part you can use, as well as how much you can build overall, so don't expect to make a gigantic building encompassing the whole area. Still, it's more than enough to get the job done. If you're building a massive map though, be prepared to use things other than actual walkways as walkways.

Overall, this is the Halo title to own for the 360. Everything I've mentioned is heavily customizable, and its multiplayer is the best of this generation of Halo titles. The campaign may not be the best, but it's still an enjoyable (albeit short) experience. I'll admit this review is somewhat convoluted and not streamlined, but I just decided to write this after coming home from working all day. So there.

Thank You GoG Member: Dynafire

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