Bungie, a company that started out with developing Macintosh titles over ten years ago. Had one simple dream that they wanted to fulfill with its original Halo: Combat Evolved game: Online multiplayer.
And when they were told that the current Mac OS wouldn’t be able to support such a feature Bungie Joined forces with Microsoft in a joined effort to create a killer app for the upcoming Xbox. And while Bungie did get first hand expertise with the Xbox. They didn’t get to experience their dream come true until Halo 2. But they still helped with pushing the Envelope for first person shooter games. Namely on the consoles!
Bungie have always been known as a company that respected and loved its many fans and followers. And as a last hurrah for their lovechild they developed Reach, their last game before leaving Microsoft for good.
So is this really the last hurrah for Bungie, or should the planet be glassed and forgotten? Let’s find out for our self, shall we.
Story & Premise
Throughout the previous games the fans of the series have always know what happened prior to the first Halo game: The human colony called Reach was overrun by covenant forces, that for some unknown reason had a desire for whipping the human species of the face of the planet.
One of the few surviving ships that where to escape reach was the infamous pillar of autumn that held on
properly two of the biggest secrets that reach held, an advanced Super soldier, and a certain A.I companion.
While master chief is nowhere to be found in the game you fill in the shoes of “Noble 6” a Lieutenant in the UNSC army. You are assigned to Noble team (hence your name: Noble 6) where after the planet is invaded by the evil Alien force known as the Covenant.
But Reach expands far beyond that: the tale of the Noble team is certainly an epic one that should be experienced. But there is one negative site to the team.
Bungie have joked from the beginning that we knew how this game would end. That the planet would have to take its last breath before perishing. And it is only in the really dark hours that you feel that the entire team is human behind the amour. It would have had a larger impact on me if I felt that those helmets were persons earlier in the game.
At the first glance Reach may look and feel a lot like Halo 3, or even Halo 2 in some ways, but when you get knee deep within the game that is when you should realize that there are quite a few things that sets reach apart from its predecessors.
The first major thing you should realize is the world you inhabit, instead of confining you to a narrow corridor within a beaten path like halo 2 or 3, Reach gives you a much wider experience like in certain Halo: CE levels. You have the ability to drive around these vast spaces of jungle, desert, city and what have you. At first it might seem a little overwhelming but it is definitely an impressive sight to see the now aged Halo 3 engine take on such massive landscapes.
In the multiplayer department Reach is guns blazing (pun intended) with matchmaking better than ever. Whenever you join a lobby you get the choice to vote for certain maps and sub game-types (if available) and this is a great way for players to discover new and cool ways to experience the multiplayer. Inste
ad of just playing team slayer over and over again like I did back in Halo 3.
Firefight also makes a more then welcomed return from ODST though this time with Spartan mechanics, that means that you are no longer a puny little human that dies from 3 shots on legendary, you a now a puny little Spartan that dies from 3 or 4 shots on legendary. You also get the ability to customize your firefight to your own settings, wither it be the wave setup or the amount of shield you start off with, you still got it (you can even set it up so that you play ODST style)
I mentioned the legendary difficulty before for a certain reason by the way. The Difficulty scales with the amount of players within the campaign lobby. And by that I mean that Single Player legendary is hard, but Multiplayer Legendary can easily be just as or even harder!
And of course the “Best of show” as I would say myself, Forge. Back in Halo 3 forge was a… Well, semi good tool to build levels with. While you had the ability to do certain things with forge like replacing spawns, weapon locations and all that stuff, the community had to discover certain bugs for themselves to build the levels they had always imagined. With the new forge (or Forge 2,0 as I call it) you have a lot of new tools like snapping, levitating, clipping and a lot more as standard tools to your disposal. And even more, you can place more than twice as many objects as before… and of course: Forge World. The largest multiplayer map I have ever seen in my entire life. And the possibi
lities with Forge 2,0 is literally endless.
So Bungie, I hereby present to you: The award for best map editor on a console.
Design & Presentation
Reach is the pinnacle of the Halo 3 engine. Everything is pushed out to its furthest limit to ensure that you get the best visual presentation ever in a halo game.
The first time you step up on one of the many daunting vistas, and glance upon the planet of reach you will be absolutely mesmerized by its beauty.
Everything oozes design, the sound work is masterfully set up, the score by Marty O’Donnell is amongst the best that I have ever heard in a video game, and most of the voice work is masterfully done.
You can easily notice the graphical facelift both for character models as well as the environments. Poly count is up amongst the best looking games and textures in general are extremely well made. The only thing that really sticks out in my mind is the characters faces. Some of them often look fake or directly wei
rd. It’s not that it looks bad, but in my opinion Bungie never really was good at facial design. As I said before: “it's not bad…” it’s just not great either.
Another noteworthy issue with the game is a severe case of frame-rate issues. During intensive Gameplay moments or cut scenes the frame-rate can often dip well below what is acceptable. It’s nothing Gameplay breaking but it’s definitely an issue
So. How does Halo Reach hold up to its previous titles as well as other games? Well Halo 3 was my first experience with High definition graphics (720P scaled up to 1080) and while halo 3 looked fantastic in it of itself, Reach looks absolutely gorgeous. The beautifully mastered cut scenes, the brilliant score and
of course the end of the beginning: A loom into the dark past of the human race in the halo Universe.
It’s a beautiful game and it’s definitely a last hurrah for Bungie. I can assure you, just like Halo 3, this game is going to be played for a long time, especially with the upgrades made to the map editor Forge.
So as a final stand, Halo Reach gets a staggering: 96 out of a possible 100!