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Halo Reach Review

Reviews - Xbox 360

Written by Eric Dionne
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Here we are, one week after the launch of Halo: Reach. After having played for a full week, finishing campaign on Legendary, and playing countless matchmaking/firefight battles, it is now time to talk. How does it stack up to the other games in the series? What new things have been added, fixed, or removed from this entry in the halo series?

Read more to find out if Halo: Reach does justice to the final days of Bungie's involvement in the Halo universe.

This game is amazing.

There, that's how I will start this review. Reach takes everything you loved about Halo 3 and ODST and rolls it up into one. I loved the campaign, Firefight, Matchmaking, and armor customization. The best asset to me about Halo: Reach is the tie in to the main Halo trilogy. I will not spoil anything in this review, but I'm just going to say I'm happy with the results of campaign mode.

I should probably start with the campaign since I keep boasting about how great it is. You play as a member of a special Spartan group known as Noble Team. Your codename is "Noble Six", as you have replaced a member of their team that we do not get to see. Your teammates are all Spartan-IIIs (Kat, Carter, Jun, and Emile) with the exception of one named Jorge. He is a Spartan-II, just like Master Chief.

In this game I started on Legendary right off the bat. I figured Halo 3 wasn't very hard so why not do the same here. This is where my only gripe about campaign comes into play.  You see... Reach is easy. Legendary or not, this game, at least for me, was rather easy. As long as you don't run in guns blazing, aim for the head, hide when necessary, and don't do any tasks that aren't necessary for completion of the mission, you will be fine.  If you are brand spanking new to Halo, then I don't recommend it, however.

The campaign was also rather short, I must say (I finished in about four days). Other than that, though, the story was great, especially if you've read the novels or at least "Fall of Reach", and "First Strike". I don't know if the standard ending is any different from the Legendary ending, but it was epic and made me have a wicked Halo nerd-out as it shows its tie-in to the main series. The campaign achievements are not too difficult to get, nor are the avatar awards that coincide with it. I got them all the sixth day. Here it is, Sept. 22nd, and I only have firefight achievements left and a couple for getting to a higher rank.

Next up, we have good old matchmaking and the multiplayer modes. If you played Halo 3, the setup remains the same. You choose a playlist, start it alone or with a party, opponents are found and you play a match. The veto system has changed a bit when a map is selected, however. Now, you are given 2-3 options and you cast a vote. The highest vote wins, and in the case of a tie the choice closest to the top of the list is picked.

All your favorite match types are back, such as Slayer, Oddball, CTF, and many more. Sadly, you can no longer choose Spartans or Elites in standard matchmaking, though the feature still exists in some form.

The one difference to matchmaking is the addition of Armor abilities. In Halo 3 you could pick up equipment, but now in Reach you pick a certain ability when you start/respawn. Some of these are simple like Sprint and Active Camo, but others are very new and awesome, such as Hologram or Armor Lock. These abilities definitely make matchmaking more interesting this time around, and can be quite satisfying if used correctly. You haven't had true fun until you throw out a hologram, have the person chasing you go for it, then BAM you assassinate them. Armor lock covers you in a shield, protecting you for a few seconds in those intense battles. When it's done, it shoots an EMP that can damages vehicles or people around you.

A new addition to matchmaking is a mode called Invasion.  This playlist has Spartans vs. Elites, and is objective based. There is even a Slayer form of this mode involving reaching 100 kills. In standard Invasion you start as a Spartan or an Elite, then after the first round you swap sides. The Spartans defend key points (similar to "hills" in the "King of the Hill" mode), where as the Elites try to control these points. After 3 sets of points, Elites win that round but if stopped at any of the 3 points by Spartans, they lose. Invasion slayer also has a "hill" to get to, but when you do, you are given better weapons. Each time the hill relocates, the weapons get better and better, sometimes adding vehicles as well.

Now we go into one of my favorite modes: Firefight!

If you played Halo3: ODST, then you know about this mode. You and 3 other people are Spartans and you face waves of Covenant enemies. This time around, however, Firefight is much more than it was in the past. You can customize the hell out of everything. The standard mode is just surviving 5 rounds of enemies, but there's also the classic Firefight (ODST style) where you play 5 rounds, but after this the game turns on more skulls and gets more insane.

A fun new playlist is Gruntapocalypse.  Yes, you guessed it, you face nothing but Grunts. It is insanely fun, but it gets so much better putting it on Legendary. These Grunts get better armor and throw grenades amazingly well (and often). But with customization you can change so many things, it's ridiculous. I haven't even begun to mess with everything, but let's just say facing nothing but hunters is pure madness. This is definitely my favorite mode, especially with friends. You simply HAVE to work as a team, or you won't survive.

There is a new system in play for how you get more credits and higher rank in this game and that's called Commendations. Think "challenges" from Modern Warfare 2, but there's only an Iron, bronze, silver and Gold status. Campaign, Firefight, and Matchmaking have their own individual items to achieve, but as of yet Commendations, at least to me, don't seem to have a huge use other than bragging rights. Some of them are "get headshots" and as you get more and more your specific rank in that category advances. It is still a nice addition and gives you more to try and do.

This time around we also have a credit system for unlocking items. As you play matches in all modes, you earn credits. These can be redeemed for armor parts, voices for your character in Firefight, and even cool armor effects like the "Birthday party" skull that makes the Birthday Grunt sound when you die. Armor doesn't do anything more or less to your character, it simply adds to the customization aspect of your armor. Change your helmet and go through its particular variants, change chest plate, shoulder pads, knee pads, and so on. As you earn credits, however, your rank goes up. You start at private and can work your way up to Lt. Colonel (which happens to be the rank of Noble six) in Campaign mode.

Returning from Halo 3, the almighty Theater mode has come back to us! Save all those amazing grenade kills, glitches, multikills, and crazy antics in neat little videos and show them off to friends. You can change camera angles, record, and take screenshots, just as you could in Halo 3. My problem, however, is you STILL cannot jump ahead in the videos until you've played the whole clip. I assassinated an elite while jumping off a cliff in campaign and had to fast forward through 25 minutes of video... it took almost 12 minutes just to make a 11 second clip. The other downside is it would only record me in first person mode and I wanted a distant panned out view.

This would be OK if temporary videos stayed on your system for days like in Halo 3. If you turn off your system, all the videos of all the matches you played that day disappear unless you save. So a word to the wise, save the whole video before you save a clip from it.

In Halo 3, the game would save your last 10 or so matches for DAYS. They didn't go away until you played more and they were "overwritten." In Reach however, once the system turns off, bye-bye match videos. So now, my cool clip is in 1st person view and since you cannot edit video that was edited from another video, that's how it shall remain.

Fileshare has returned and is the same as Halo 3. Store six videos/screenshots/map variants/game variants total, or upgrade to Bungie pro for 750 MS points and get 24 or so slots and the ability to render and watch your videos on the Bungie.net site. Speaking of which, Bungie.net remains amazing as always. They keep track of all your stats as they did before but gives you such a complete rundown that it boggles the mind how cool it is.

Last but not least is the lovely Forge mode. This time around, not only can we edit existing maps but we have an open world known as Forge World. The landscape of this world reminds me of Valhalla from Halo 3. There are mountains, grass, trees, and water in this world, and you can make almost anything. You are given a bigger budget, can have more objects in your created maps at one time, AND the pieces are cheaper too. In about 20 minutes I slapped together a small base in the sky and it looked pretty cool. I haven't yet tried to play a match in it, as it still has its issues, but if I put my time into Forge, amazing things can and will happen.

You can now make actual buildings in Forge from whole units in the mode. You can also clip them through one another and the scenery, thus making for more interesting ideas such as a base protruding from a cliff to make it seem as though the rest of it is underground. Level creators will go nuts for Forge this time around, and I look forward to checking some of them out.

Oh, and here's an image of an awesome glitch I always get during melee attacks in Halo 3, and apparently also in Reach.

So there you have it. In a nutshell, that is Halo: Reach. In my opinion, Everything has been improved. Firefight and Forge are way more customizable now. Matchmaking finds matches quicker and gives us a better voting system and play style with armor abilities. The Campaign has a great tie-in story to the Halo trilogy/universe. Invasion is a welcome addition, and Theater mode is just as good as last time. I just wish it had slight improvements that personally should've been obvious.

As a die-hard Halo universe fan, I have nothing but good things to say overall about Halo: Reach. Maybe some of my colleagues will disagree, or just have their own form of praise for this game, and I look forward to hearing it. Feel free to leave comments about what you think about this amazing game and be sure to add my gamertag, GrimmTrixX, to your friends list. I look forward to facing you all in matchmaking or playing alongside you in Firefight. Also, be sure to check out some of the cool stuff on my fileshare. That's an order, Soldier!

Oh and just to show you how messed up people really are and what can be done in Forge, here is one last image for you. If you are offended easily, or are sensitive to 9/11, go ahead and skip it.

overall score:

95 out of 100

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