The Halo series is an easy one to introduce. Over the last decade the series has become one of the biggest franchises in gaming, and is arguably the sole reason why the Xbox brand still exist today. The studio responsible for the this gaming phenomenon, Bungie, has recently decided to move on from series to “expand their wings.” Now the series is in the hands of developer 343 Industries. But before they get their hands on a Halo game of their own, Bungie is serving up their last call with Halo: Reach. And lets just say it’s going to be one tough act to follow.
The story of Halo: Reach takes place way before the Halo trilogy, meaning no Master Chief. Instead you play the role of Noble 6, a nameless hero and for the most part a silent one as well. It’s not ideal but even Master Chief was a Spartan of few words. The great addition to having a nameless hero in Reach is that you can choose to personalize and customize him however you want. With the credits that you earn throughout all of the modes in Halo: Reach, you can purchase new armor parts for your Noble 6 character making him unique.
As Noble 6, you are sent to the Planet Reach to join Noble Team. Throughout the Campaign you will get to know each of the five members in Noble team, all of whom are well-crafted and well-voiced characters. The Planet Reach is the home of the Spartan program, and having the Covenant army in your home turf is never a good thing. Noble Team is sent on several missions in various locations in the Planet reach to stop the Covenant invasion. I found some good variety in the missions and locations such as the sniper mission in the night, and the aerial spaceship mission. The Campaign will last you a good eight to 11 hours depending on the difficulty and on whether you’re playing alone of with friends.
Halo: Reach stays true to the Halo formula that has worked for so long, and adds some. The new addition are Armor abilities. These new armor abilities replace the equipment from Halo 3 but still work very similarly. One of the several armor abilities is equip at all times and is more importantly reusable over time. Armor lock, jet packs, and sprinting are only a few of the Armor Abilities. The sprinting ability may be the best one, as it can speed up the pacing of the game for those players who always thought Halo was too slow.
For most games the multiplayer is the icing on the cake, for Halo it’s the whole cake. Halo: Reach may have the best matchmaking system to date, as if finds games quick and is stable. Much like Halo 3 you have different matchmaking options for the different types of game modes like Team Slayer and Team Objective. No longer will you be stuck playing a match in a map you hate with the new voting system that gives players the option to vote on which map and gametype you play. Invasion is one of those gametypes to Reach that puts you in a 6V6 Spartans versus Elites, with the objective of the Elites is having to retrieve a module of sorts.
Theater mode also makes a return from Halo 3, and remains the same. Not much Bungie could do with it as it already functioned perfectly. On the other hand, Forge World has graduated significantly from its Halo 3 predecessor. Forge World is a massive map that consist of several forgeable areas within that map. New to Forge are options like merging items together and making items go through the ground or basically anything. You can also change the color palette on your custom levels to set the mood. I’m not a creative person and probably won’t spend much time in Forge but making great maps is actually possible and Bungie proves it by adding five multiplayer maps that were made in Forge on disc.
To make the perfect Halo game, Bungie had to dump that old engine they’ve been working with and upgrade; That is what they did. Although Halo: Reach probably can’t compete in a graphics battle with lets say Killzone 2, it’s still worth noting that it’s the best looking Halo game to date. I did have one occurrence were the frame rate dropped during a cutscene, maybe due to the real time rendering that the game is doing to capture your Noble 6 character. The sound in the game is amazing, there’s nothing like Marty O’Donnell Halo music. And the voice acting is superb.
Bungie pulled out all the stops in order to achieve the greatness of Halo: Reach. This is the best Halo has ever played, looked, sounded, etc. It is the best Halo game ever made and for that I must rate it a perfect 10. Halo: Reach is the ultimate Halo game, and will be played for years to come. Farewell Bungie!