by Ryan Caso
Possibly a little late the game with my review on this but still, here we go. We will start with the campaign.
The campaign for Halo: Reach was a much contested aspect of the game among those making it and the fans. You would expect with a lot of fan input you should possibly get a great campaign. Sadly most of the fan input wanted the game to be a carbon copy of the book which was produced back around the time of the first Halo game, Halo Combat Evolved. While I too would have been happy at the time when Halo CE came out to have had Reach as a game and not a book, it is just that. I would have preferred to play it than to read it, not that I wanted a game made about it. References to actions in the book would have been awesome, however. That would have been a nice link to those who did read that book without limiting the game to the same line. That being said I have never read the book and probably never will; the point is that there is no justifiable reason as to why the game should have mimicked the book (even if it did not, which I would not know, this is just a shout out to anyone who thinks it would have been better if/was great because it did).
Moving on, the campaign in itself was very BORING. The only reason I was excited through the entire campaign was because I was really hoping for that big moment when it would become too awesome to handle and I would just disregard the first few levels as bastard children. Needless to say that never happened. Instead I slowly and unbearably crawled through the last level, not because it was difficult to play but rather difficult to justify playing, and immediately went on to matchmaking. That right there told me there was a problem with this game before I even came out of my Halo High. Yes, I admit it, I was one of those fools overly excited to grab this game on launch day. Fool is the key word.
Before we continue with the campaign let’s take a look at our characters. We have the line up here because Noble team does not discriminate. Bungie wanted a representative from each possible group of persons, so we got the standard line-up here. And our starting brute is Jorge carrying the chain gun in one arm with the biggest and thickest armor. Oh but Jorge is not a brute at all, he is a loveable and cuddly bear who’s inner side is masked by all that armor. Starting in the leader position is Carter, the guy who cares for his team but still gets the job done because he can. There’s really not much to say about Carter, they tried to make him the perfect character I guess and he came out the perfect character shaped just like that cookie cutter over there. Emile of all the characters is possibly the most intriguing, of course that could also be because he talked the least and was with you the longest. Thank god someone who didn’t ramble on for the sake of hearing his own voice, like I do. Our sniper, sharpshooter, all around badass is Jun. I imagine it is pronounced like the month. Personally I like Jun, but that’s probably because I think the sniper rifle is awesome, and he happens to have one almost every time you see him.
Oh, I almost forgot, Kat. Of course half the community that still plays Halo: Reach would flip if I forgot her, who could forget those first few weeks worth of “Kat’s A$$” photos on the file shares. Normally I would make fun of that more, but really I feel they’ve gotten to the point where they are making fun of themselves, so I let it go and watch them do the work for me. Not long after the ‘A$$’ photos we found out that people actually do play the campaign, just very slowly. The Halo community started sharing pictures of Kat being shot in the head, with comments like ‘Why she should not have left the kitchen’. Really guys, it’s very creative, also about 3 weeks late. Back to the campaign!
Continuing with the characters and this idea of depth to them, yeah there is none. You get introduced to them and they start dying. That’s about the extent of it. Look, here’s these five other people, you will fight with them, now fight. You fight. They say nothing more about themselves and gain no depth. Jorge sacrifices himself for Reach thinking he gave his life to save them, turns out the covenant has 1,000 more ships just like that and some bigger ones that show up after Jorge is dead. Cool, Jorge has my sympathy, I think I can somewhat care that he died. Next it is Kat, who dies from a shot to the head. Now any other time this would seem normal but these are Spartans. She has her helmet on, and to anyone who ever tried shooting one of these Spartans in the head, unless you have the Sniper Rifle, it will take more than one shot. Whatever, it kills her I will get over the hacking that jackal did, as long as Bungie can explain how and why there just happened to be a phantom that knew where they were and took out only one of them, with a standard weapon, instead of its cannons. This part was easy to get past though, because Kat had annoying lines with an annoying voice. Also, no depth so her death seemed like the death of a flower in winter, whatever.
Now of course everyone should care about Carter right, he’s your captain; he’s the go to guy the awesome man, the total badass. Actually he’s not a badass at all he’s rather boring. He has those generic lines where he talks like someone taking a game of paintball too seriously, with WALKIE-TALKIES MAN, TWO WAY RADIOS. Yeah, he’s getting shot at by banshees for the past who knows how long and the Pelican that Emile you and he are in is fine, Carter just has some face lacerations somehow. He decides that about 1km from the place you need to be is close enough, so he drops you and Emile out on some ridge and you go on foot; ok, sure we need to PLAY the game I understand. About half way there a Scarab blocks you and Emile in a cave… Why is this Scarab, a tank munching building stomping behemoth, focusing on two infantry while there’s a huge battle going on down in the valley below? Wait, why are we not in the MIDDLE of said HUGE BATTLE? Yes, I did try jumping off the cliff to get there, you will die. Either way, look, its Carter, he made it this far, so why the hell did he drop us out half a mile back? Oh, he’s going to crash the Pelican into the Scarab, that’s creative, and probably why he dropped us out I guess. As you continue walking you realize, I really don’t care that he’s dead.
Alright, we got Emilie, left. We got this shit going on, He’s using a rail gun to take out incoming enemy drop ships, but just enough so that you can still have fun with three or four yourself on the ground. Not a complaint, stating a fact, I appreciate the ability to do something in a game. Either way, you achieve your current objective, giving everyone’s favorite AI to everyone’s favorite Captain (this time I was serious, Keys is the man, and also a man who when he dies, I can give a shit about it). Oh look, a phantom is dropping Zealot class elites onto Emile… they stab him, he shoots them in the neck, they punch him, he punches back… ok he dies, eventually. Now you fight through the elites he did not kill to get to his body, but not for his body, so you can use the rail gun. Oh yeah, you’re in the seat of a Mass Accelerator Cannon, a MAC cannon…GNU would be proud. Did we mention Emile died? Not like that matters, he was only really a BAMF at the end, when he died. Now that you’re in a MAC you would expect smooth sailing but, we can’t do that. Look, this MAC’s gunner seat is covered, but those imprecise cannon shoots from Banshees and Phantoms still will DESTROY you, rather quickly too. This part of the game is very low in skill and very high in luck and figuring out through trial and error which aircraft to shoot first. The pattern is the same on all difficulty levels, it just matters less on normal and heroic. WAIT!! What happened to Jun? Seriously, he matters so little to the story you barely even notice he’s gone when he leaves. Really, as I am writing this I have no idea what happened to him, and I refuse to put that game disc back in to find out. Point being he’s gone and not once did I need to care.
Notice all this not caring about Noble Teams deaths? Yeah, Bungie made a huge effort before the game came out to make you ‘Remember Noble’ because their deaths mattered, even though they did not matter. Either way we can now move on to the matchmaking, the only part that has actually mattered to most of the Halo fan base for a while now. Why, I will never know, the matchmaking on Halo 3 was horrendous, and the multiplayer combat even worse. Good to know that not much changed from the Beta in Reach though, nor from Halo 3 for that matter. The side of your arm is still more deadly than bullets and you still move about as fast as that tortoise in that one fable. Listen, the only reason that tortoise won was because it was a story; in reality he would have been last by four years. That is kind of how Halo: Reach works. I appreciate the larger maps in Halo: Reach, huge maps are always better because there is so much more to do. The problem with Reach is that you still run excruciatingly slow, so good luck getting across that map in time to make a difference in the game. Also, Spartans are heavy, and they handle the same way. These suits are supposed to assist your movement, no? Ok because I appreciate having my look sensitively set to insane and still turning as slowly as the minute hand on a clock while you’re in a boring class and staring it down. Unless you have just finished playing another Halo (except Halo CE and Halo 2) or the Reach campaign, the movement in this game will make you hate it.
Finally, on the technology side of things, Halo: Reach boasted a brand new graphics engine that would make it look many times better than the previous Halo games. I am still convinced that Halo 3 looked the best and that Halo: Reaches new graphics engine was new back in 2006. There was hardly a difference in the visuals and instead everything looked blander in Reach as opposed to the old games. Halo 2 had better visuals and that game was never finished being polished.
All in all, the game is not terrible, but the overwhelming “GREAT” reviews the game has been getting and the hype that went into it just do not measure it on a realistic scale. This was meant to bring the game back into perspective because it is currently too close to the public face and it looks bigger than it is. If anything can be said of Bungie after Halo: Reach, it is that they should become an advertisement company; because those videos, trailers, and all that hype would get a dog to buy its own shit.