Crusader0102 took this image
I was lucky enough to have a great brother and friend and two TVs and two xbox’s and two Halo Reach disks to play through the campaign on legendary with. We beat the game in a little over five and a quarter hours and then played multiplayer for a few hours. Here are my thoughts:
THIS CONTAINS NO SPOILERS
Quick complaint: legendary in five and a quarter hours? We are amazing at the game, but the main reason I’m annoyed is because Bungie continuously promises a harder experience, better AI, difficulty scaling when playing co-op, etc. Instead, they add in elites that move when you are about to shoot them, enemies that can kill you from across the level with a plasma pistol, and a plethora of skulls that just tweak a few gameplay modifiers. While some people may enjoy the customization, I don’t find it fun to cherry pick modifiers and make my own difficult setting. Real difficulty lies in the AI and in crafting situations in which the player has to think different to survive.
Gameplay in Halo has always been terrific, and Halo Reach is no different. The controls are fluid, the weapons feel weighty, sound great and are fun to fire. The game is very nice looking, and although I’m happy Halo has kept with its signature vibrant colors and [adjective] art style, over half of the levels were indoors, or during the night, or it was all gray because it was raining or something. On the flip side, the levels that were lit up were beautiful. Make sure to pull yourself from fighting and take a look around. Fall off the edge of a cliff every now and then while staring up at the skyboxes. Burn up in the atmosphere of a planet while admiring its features. I do wish there was a snow level, though. All games need a snow level. Despite the beauty of the Halo universe, it was absent in many of the cut scenes because they were rendered from the point of view of static in-game cameras, like security cameras. These cameras tended to be angled at the ground and suffer from image quality issues.
Halo Reach’s story is very nicely contained and then tied in with the start of Halo: CE, but it can be summarized in seven words. Now, I’m an expert at summarizing things (because I’m lazy), and can probably get whole novels into a paragraph and most videogames into a sentence or two, but Reach’s plot does not have much going on. It has been very war-ized in that much of the dialog is in combat jargon and has a comm filter or fifteen over it to make it inaudible. The little interpersonal talking between Noble Team (when they are together, which is surprisingly not that often) is extremely superficial and all the characters fit into typical I’M FREAKING HUGE stereotypes. The characters are also all jerks for some reason, even the prominent “civilian” member of the game. Basically the campaign is Call of Duty meets Halo. Remember how I whined about the length of the game? Well, if it were any longer I would have been pretty bored because great gameplay cannot support a trite plot and characters for hours on end.
The good news is that when the campaign finished I wanted to play Halo: CE all over again, and you will too.
I question how much the idea to incorporate literally entire multiplayer levels into the campaign was a design decision to tie the two components together or a lack of time on Bungie’s part. Aside from Hemmorage, asset for asset, the multiplayer levels and firefight maps are all inserted into the campaign at some point. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just something to think about. My thought is the more diverse the environments I encounter in the Halo universe, the better.
As for multiplayer, it is great Halo fun. Hemorrhage, aka Blood Gulch is a fun throwback to vehicle madness and teleporter blocking. Loadouts are good to use either if you are about to die, or if you are bored, or if you are chasing someone down to punch them. Speaking of which, what is with the ridiculously loud panting noises while sprinting? I understand the first person nature prominence for the sound effect, but it is distracting and weird.
I’m sure there will be mad ‘spensive DLC in the future because there are only 9 multiplayer maps. Firefight doesn’t count because that is even easier to rip to/from campaign. Forge is the best map editor on a console, but that still equates to lamesauce. I’ll forgive Bungie if they add in Chiron, Boarding Action, Chillout, Damnation, Battle/Beaver Creek, the real Midship, Lockout, and make Reflection have less reflections.
Wort wort wort!