The final chapter of Bungie’s apparent involvement in the Halo saga has arrived. Featuring Campaign, Firefight, Multiplayer, Forge and Theater modes, this entry in the Halo universe is the most complete and is influenced from all the prior Halo games to create an engaging experience in the throes of a besieged planet that will ultimately fall.
Anyone with a sense of the Halo mythology and history already knows the final result of Reach. However, Bungie weaves an intricate story that takes unexpected turns, even though the ending is known. Some moments truly tug at the viewers emotions while others bring on a feeling of nostalgia.
All the members of Noble Team, especially Jorge, have a richness and depth to them that make them interesting and even the minor characters add a unique flavor to the story and the dialogue. The key to these superb characters is the wonderfully done voice acting and well designed character animations.
The gameplay is both similar and extremely different from any other game in the Halo series. The biggest factor in this change is the inclusion of armor abilities, the new weapons, and player attributes. Assassinations are also prevalent and allow the player to add some flair to their Covenant slaying experience.
Multiplayer is back and better than ever before. Much the same as Campaign, Multiplayer is undeniably changed by the armor abilities and new weapons. To be frank, the new features really serve to enlarge the battlefield and your tactical options, which is quite useful whether you are playing Slayer or Capture the Flag.
Reach features all the different bells and whistles of all the previous Halo games; Matchmaking, Theater, Forge, Firefight, and Bungie’s online stat tracking. Most of these modes are revamped and improved. The new player ranking system, though it might feel like grinding at first, uses ingenious Daily and Weekly Challenges to keep players interested and playing.
There are downfalls though. Whereas it is now possible to rewind in Theater mode while watching a Campaign clip, watching anything in the Theater is now a solitary experience. As well, the new player rank system is no longer selective of player skill. Now, the General ranks is slightly less distinguished as it was in Halo 3.
The graphics in Reach do what they are advertised to. They take the abilities of the Xbox 360 and push them to their limits. No other Xbox 360 game comes close in terms of the depth of landscapes, character design, vehicles, and the interaction between the environment and the player.
Character animations are smooth, weapon effects are impressive, and collision detection is so good that you do not even think about it. The real gem of the graphics for Reach is the level “Long Night of Solace,” which allows the player to fly into space and battle the Covenant in zero-g vehicular combat.
One of the stalwart aspects of every Halo game has been the audio. The seamless integration of high quality sound effects and beautifully arranged musical segments gives the player an emotional tie-in to the story and action.
Being the final Halo game, the music seems to take a theme or two from all the games and mix those in with several new themes that are quite memorable and easily recognizable. Hats off to Martin O’Donnell and his crew again.
Final Say: 9.5/10