Friday, September 17, 2010

Xbox 360 - Halo Reach

Halo Reach by Bungie

Halo Reach is the prequel to the Halo Trilogy and, as far as I know, the final Bungie based Halo game. That doesn't mean there won't be more Halo games, but apparently not from Bungie. The story begins on the planet Reach where a team of Spartans is sent, at first, to locate a beacon. Along the way, it is determined to be a Covenant incursion and is a lot bigger than first thought. Further along, it is revealed to the Spartans that there is an important item to recover. An item that plays an important part in all 3 Halo games, although, not in ODST.

Campaign Mode

This review covers the campaign mode of Halo Reach. As with most recent Bungie Halo releases, the campaign mode portions are exceedingly short. Compared to, for example, Valve's Half Life series, the Halo Reach story is thin and the levels are tiny. Even comparing Halo Reach to Halo 3, the story is thin and the levels are tiny. By short, I mean, you can blow through a level in about 45 minutes or less and there are only 10 levels or so. From the beginning to end of each level, the levels are linear and the maps are tiny. This explains why you can blow through the levels in short order.

It looks like Bungie spent the majority of the development time on the multiplayer aspects of Halo Reach rather than campaign. Each successive game has spent more time on the multiplayer (and other alternative modes) and less on campaign mode. I don't know about you, but I really don't relish the thought of playing the same game levels 3, 4 or 5 times only with slightly different modes. I did that in Halo 3 and found the subsequent playthroughs to be rather tedious and boring. I'd rather spend time playing a new game than the same levels over and over.

Perhaps the 13-19 aged gamers like this repetitive game play, but it doesn't really do it for me. I'd rather be doing something new that I haven't done before. This is why I prefer to play RPG games where there's always a new quest.

Armory and Challenges

In Halo Reach, Bungie expects you to play the game through multiple times so you can obtain all of the challenges and achievements. With Halo Reach, Bungie introduces 'challenges'. A challenge is similar to an achievement, except you receive no achievement points. Instead, you receive credits that you can put towards buying armor and outfitting your Spartan better. Presumably, these better outfits help you out in multiplayer combat mode, although that's really questionable.

When you enter the Armory, you can now modify your armor to add things like shoulder pads, knee pads, chest plates, helmets, etc. So, as you receive more and more credits, you can spend these credits on items to make your Spartan or Elite better.

Frankly, as I've said, this is really not my bag. Playing the same game multiple times just to receive credits to outfit a soldier, not a great idea. If there was some way to use your newly and better outfitted character in some kind of MMO world, I might be more inclined to play. However, the multiplayer modes in Reach are the same as Halo 3. Effectively, running around on a level with a bunch of 13-18 year olds in free-for-all combat. No thinking, just constant killing. It's like Spore, they give you an excellent character creator, but how the character is ultimately used is pointless.


This game specifically and only deals with a Covenant incursion. The flood is not part of this game, which is unfortunate. However, there are some new Covenant creatures that are in here that we've not seen before. They're not any tougher than what we've seen, but they're here.


The story is overly weak. I was expecting a solid beginning, middle and end. What we get is a reasonable beginning and a very solid middle with no ending. It ends, but nothing is wrapped up. Your character is left behind and who knows what really happened.

There were also portions that were completely ignored. Twice you run into a scarab and twice the only thing you can do is avoid it. One of those times it gets destroyed. This is wrong. In this story, we should now be able to commandeer one of those Scarabs and use it as a vehicle or commandeer a Phantom an use it. There were so many wasted instances where the story could have taken a huge leap forward and.. nothing. Bungie took the safe approach and didn't do anything new or amazing to Reach. It's definitely a 'safe' game, but there's not a whole lot here to say 'WOW' over.

Easter Eggs

What easter eggs? There may be some, but there are definitely no skulls. The skulls are received after completing the game on Normal automatically. The fun is in finding and obtaining the skulls, not simply just getting them at the end. I understand why, though, as other than New Alexandria, most of the environments are rather sparse. So, there's not a lot of cubbyholes to hide things. Unfortunate, because the secondary fun on Halo 3 was exploring and finding all of the cool hidden things. Even with Halo 3, I really wanted a lot more of this, but instead Bungie is giving us less and less of it.


The game plays much the same as Halo ODST and Halo 3. The exception is that they've added the nightvision mode and a couple of new weapons, but overall the game is much the same as the previous.


The graphics haven't tremendously improved, mostly because it appears Bungie is still using the same game engine as in Halo 3. I'd rather see them abandon whatever engine they are using for something like the Cryengine 3. Much of the texture mapping, specifically the ground surfaces, are of a very low resolution. There are definitely better and faster engines out there. So, I'm not sure why they have chosen to stick with that engine.


On par with previous games. Nothing special or outstanding.


I liked the campaign mode, for what there was. The campaign mode is entirely too short and not involved enough. There should have been far more firefights than there were. Once you get the package, everyone treats you like kid gloves and the levels become laughably easy. Unfortunately, it appears Bungie spent the most time filling out the multiplayer aspects and not enough on a long detailed campaign. The campaign mode almost feels like an add-on. Like it was there only to appease those who like campaigns, but no real long term development went into this part of the game.

If you like multiplayer games, this is probably a good game. But, if you're looking for a long involved TPS/FPS, this isn't it. It's probably worth a play if you're really into the Halo series or if you intend to play the multiplayer parts. However, I would not recommend this game if you only intend to play the campaign. It's way too short and it's far too much like Halo 1, 2 and 3 and ODST. For campaign only play, you should probably skip this game and go get something like Singularity which is much more involved (even though it's mostly a clone of Bioshock).

  • Sound: 7/10 (average)
  • Graphics: 9/10 (random low and high res textures)
  • Gameplay: 7/10 (standard for Halo)
  • Story: 5/10 (story not finished, lacking, shallow)
  • Bugginess: N/A (no bugs, yay!)
  • Controls: 8/10 (same as Halo 3)
  • Bang-to-buck: 5/10 (still working through multiplayer)
  • Play Value: $10 (it's worth more if you are like multiplayer, if not, less)
  • Overall: 7/10 (overly short campaign mode, not enough story, lacking fights).