Sunday, October 17, 2010

Halo: Reach Review

Maybe Hollywood could learn something from the videogame, Halo: Reach. When was the last time a big budget movie finished with a sad ending? Yet if you've played the versions of Halo, you know how Halo: Reach will end. In the other games, non-player characters talk about the fall of planet Reach. The story of this game is a tragedy. Yet, looking at the sales, the game still did very well. I hope Hollywood takes notice.

Halo: Reach is a prequel to the first Halo game. You play Noble Six, a faceless member of Noble squadron. They are a group of elite soldiers called Spartans and armed with special powered armor. The squad is dispatched to investigate why an outpost went silent. When they arrive, they discover the worst. Instead of human insurgents, the Covenant, an alien alliance, has attacked the post. It's now clear that planet Reach is being invaded. The rest of the game is a set of missions for you to complete. Most of them are in support of retreating troops or civilians.

First, I'm going to address the minor problems with this game. The save system which uses checkpoints can get infuriating. Take for example where you drive a tank back to base. As you approach, the alien defenses which includes heavy guns and vehicles open up on you. If you get killed, you'll be thrown back to last checkpoint and will have to kill all the enemies you've may have killed before the aliens got you. On the normal difficulty level, Covenant forces are tough. Killing Elites is hard. And even the Grunts lay down some heavy fire. Now, that may be intentional because you are fighting a losing battle. Oh, and one more thing about a plot point. In one scene you are thrown off an enemy ship in space. And you fall back to the planet. Huh? I mean you should be burned up and dead by the time you hit the surface.

What about the gameplay? It's your classic first person shooting goodness from developer Bungie. Firing guns is a blast. The graphics are gorgeous. There's a new orbital fighter which you take into space. It's quite enjoyable blowing up enemy fighters with lasers and missiles. Besides the campaign mode, other features return. They include map making Forge, Theater and of course, multiplayer online. The action is unrelenting. If this were a movie I would complain but as video games go, it's addictive. You want to clear an area to see where the next mission will take you.

Halo: Reach is the last Halo game that Bungie will develop. It is bittersweet end. And the game is a reflection of that. I can't remember if I've ever seen a game finish with a sad ending. Of course, there's hope since the game leads you directly to Halo: Combat Evolved. But I commend Bungie and Microsoft for releasing a courageous game. The grade is A.

Here's a trailer which is not based on actual gameplay but depicts the sacrifice of the Spartans. It's pretty cool and very emotional.

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