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GAME REVIEW: Halo Reach

Nick Fletcher, Jay Journal Staff

Introduction 

Halo: Reach is the sixth installment in the Halo video game franchise, and the last one developed by Bungie. Reach was developed by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 console and was officially released worldwide in September of 2010.

Despite it being the sixth installment in the series; Halo: Reach is actually a prequel, in terms of storyline, to Halo: Combat Evolved, the first game in the series. To give just a little bit of context, the Halo series is set in the future where Humans are in a galactic conflict with a theocratic alliance of alien races known as the Covenant. Our main protagonists throughout the series are genetically modified humans, created to be super soldiers known as Spartans. The Halo franchise is mainly comprised of games that are First-person shooters. Unlike some other First-person shooters, the majority of the games in the Halo franchise aren’t overly violent due to the fact that in the multiplayer everyone is wearing large suits of futuristic armor, and in the single player you’re fighting against aliens the majority of the time.

I got my first taste of Halo: Reach back in 2010 (I was 10 years old at the time) when I stumbled across a trailer for it on Youtube. Before long my parents had bought the game for me and I was off and playing. In my own estimation I think that I have an extensive knowledge about the game, and because of this extensive knowledge I feel as though I am uniquely equipped to give the game a fair and honest review. I have been playing the game off and on now for the better part of seven years. I’ve completed the single player campaign and have extensively played the multiplayer in the game, enough so in fact to reach the level of General Grade Three (this is the 12th highest rank in the game).

The Single Player Experience

I’m not going to lie here, I’m usually not a huge fan of the single player or campaign components of most games, however when it comes to the Halo franchise I find the single player to be intriguing and fun to play. Reach is no exception, I had a good time playing through the campaign, and most importantly in my opinion found the ending to be satisfying as well.

One of the reasons why I found Reach’s single player to be so enjoyable is because it is a prequel to the rest of the Halo franchise. I know this won’t be the case for everyone who plays the game, but I think that the more you know about the rest of the Halo storyline, the more you’ll get out of what Reach has to offer in terms of its single player. That being said I do not think that you need to have already played the rest of the Halo games to enjoy Halo: Reach. In other words, I think that Reach can stand on it’s own just fine, and there are a variety of reasons why I think this.

As I mentioned earlier Reach is a prequel, and I think the fact that it is a prequel actually makes it easier to follow the story than say if you just picked up Halo 3 and started playing it’s single player. The characters in Reach are all brand new to the franchise so there’s no catching up that you have to do. This includes the character that you play as throughout the single player, Noble Six, who is customizable by you, this is unique to the franchise because in the main Halo storyline you play as the same protagonist throughout the entire series.

To give a quick intro into what the single player of Halo: Reach actually entails, the story centers on “Noble Team”, a special operations unit composed of “Spartan” super soldiers. You play as the new addition to the team “Noble Six”, and are thrust into the action almost immediately. You and the rest of “Noble Team” are tasked with trying to defend the planet Reach, a vital military hub, from the Covenant invasion that is sure to come.

The Multiplayer Experience

I mentioned in the previous portion that I’m usually not a huge fan of the single player in most games, so I think it’s fitting that I start out here by saying that I am a huge fan of the multiplayer in most games, Halo Reach being the prime example. Nowadays the main reason I even buy games is to play the multiplayer in them. So with that out of the way, I would wager that Reach is the game that I’ve played the most multiplayer in, and that’s saying a lot.

When it comes to the multiplayer in Reach Bungie, the game developer, decided to make some pretty drastic changes. They decided to stray away from the usual tried and true Halo multiplayer formula and introduce some unique new features into the mix. One of the features, probably the most controversial, was “Spartan abilities”. Spartan abilities are abilities that you can active that allowed you to do things that normal you can’t do in Halo, like sprint for example. Another new and controversial feature was “bloom”, this caused your crosshair to grow in size the quicker in succession you shot, forcing you to shoot slower in order to be more accurate. Both of these features were major reasons why people either loved or hated the multiplayer in Halo: Reach.

One feature about the multiplayer that I think was universally loved was the amount of customization that is possible on your character. The more you play, the more “credits” you get, which are the in game currency, and with these credits you can buy better and better armor for your own personal Spartan. The armor doesn’t give you any advantage in game, it just makes your character look cooler, which I like a lot. I can honestly say that I’ve played a lot of extra multiplayer games with the goal of eventually being able to buy some  new armor, or a cool looking helmet being a motivating factor as to why.

The last thing I’ll mention about the multiplayer is that there are so many fun and unique game modes that your bound to find something that you like a lot. Whether it be “S.W.A.T” where all you need is a headshot to kill someone, or “Grifball” where you kill each other with giant hammers and are trying to detonate a bomb on the enemy team’s goal. The diversity when it comes to the different types of experiences you can have while playing the game is incredible, and is one of the reasons why Reach has such a good multiplayer.

Final thoughts/ Review

So now knowing all of this about Halo: Reach, I’ll tell you my own personal take on the game, and how good I really think it is . Considering the amount of time that I’ve Invested into the game, I think it’s fair to say that I love it. Is it my favorite Halo game? That’s hard to say, I do think that the game has flaws, so I probably wouldn’t rate it as highly as say Halo 3. However I’ve played the game more than any other game, let alone Halo games and so coming from that bias I probably would say it is my favorite Halo game.

I think part of what has made my experience playing Reach so enjoyable is that I’ve played with friends so much along the way. I think playing with friends makes any game better, but Reach takes it to the next level. All the different game modes you can play, make it so that if you’re feeling serious you can play a game mode that requires a lot of coordination and concentration, or if your feeling more lighthearted you can play a game mode that allows you to relax more. I really love this about the game. Another part of the game that I absolutely love is the customization of your character. I have found this to be downright addictive over the years and has made me want to keep coming back to get cooler and cooler stuff. Tied into the customization aspect, I think the leveling system is really cool as well. Seeing everyone’s level before the game starts gives you an idea of how experienced everybody is and therefore who the better player probably is as well.

I think if I were to rate Halo: Reach on as scale of 1 to 10 I would give it a 9. What can I say, I just love the game. I’ve spent a lot of my childhood playing games and I would probably put Reach as my favorite of them all. I don’t think this is just my nostalgia speaking either, even though it is a little dated, I think that if you were to pick it up today you could still get a lot of fun out of it. So on that note, if you’re looking for a new game I would highly recommend Halo: Reach, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

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