Halo Reach Review

Halo Reach (Available exclusively on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-16
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Bungie
Release Date: September 14th, 2010
Xbox Live: Online Multiplayer

Parent Talk: To experience the beauty of Reach, look no further than a full 1080p TV set.  Couple this with fantastic Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound for one audio-visual feast. HR is a fine-looking, awesome-sounding behemoth of a game.

However, you should note that this series is violent, with light cursing sprinkled about. Halo Reach isn’t suitable for young kids, but it’s also not as realistic as Call of Duty.

This is a sad review for me.  Don’t misunderstand; I love boasting about games that blow me away. I typically don’t have time to play Xbox 360 games for the sake of padding my gamerscores, but here I am; already up to 875 points just from Halo: Reach. That’s impressive given my track record.  I finished it on Legendary all by my lonesome, played several missions in co-op, and finally took the competitive plunge.  In other words, Reach has consumed a chunk of my schedule.  It’s the sequel I’ve wanted since the original’s debut. Ironically, Halo: Reach is Bungie’s swansong project with Microsoft before moving on to their 10-year stint with Activision, hence my saddened state.  At least they couldn’t have ended things any better. You’d easily cherish the game for a year, possibly longer.

The Great:

Come together! Halo introduced co-op gaming to millions who’d never experienced it before on consoles. Sure the N64 featured four controller ports and was the multiplayer platform of choice, but Halo upped the ante by allowing one to play an entire campaign with a buddy. Nobody cared that it wasn’t online-enabled.  It made you look at co-op in a new light. Things didn’t stop there as the series evolved.  With Reach, co-op is as fun as ever.  Whether playing campaign or Firefight, Halo brings people together unlike any other FPS series. Even in the shadow of Call of Duty, Halo shatters records for consecutive Xbox Live matches, hours spent online, and more.  I don’t see that changing anytime soon either.

The Good:

+ Social Halo is great, but don’t count out the single-player experience. Reach‘s story is the best since the first Halo…this factoid was very difficult to come to terms with, but I ultimately reached my decision (no pun intended).  I never enjoyed Halo 2 or 3‘s storytelling; I wasn’t attracted to the perceivably forced reason behind the Covenant’s continuous invasions.  Reach is all about the mystery. We’ve never known exactly what happened to all the Spartans other than vanishing from existence, but do now. Reach is the perfect bridge to the original Halo. When all is said and done, you’ll believe that this is Bungie’s swansong…making it all the more touching.  What a way to go out.

+ Fantastic designs.  Enemies, vehicles, environments — Halo Reach surprised me. You go from spacecraft interiors to vast canyons, mountain ranges and more unique areas. The final chapter is a breath-taking spectacle due to the diversity of its locations. HR has finally established the franchise as a visual powerhouse.

+ Options galore.  Even having talked co-op already, the amount of online multiplayer options is striking.  From recording your matches and sharing them with the rest of the world to creating maps via Forge and everything in-between…you can easily get lost under the stack.  Better news is that the menu system has been completely reworked for easier navigation and control.

+ It’s time to rank up. Everything you do is attached to in-game credits, which eventually promote you in the UNSC. The higher your rank, the better the gear unlocked in your armory, and it’s addictive.  You always want to play “just a few more minutes” even after declaring the end of your current session. An especially nice touch Bungie added is daily and weekly challenges which net you a certain amount of credits. There are always ways to acquire credits, but note that Bungie has safeguards in place that limit how many credits you can achieve within 24 hours. You’ll constantly come back for more.

+ Change of pace.  I enjoyed two particular missions in which you eliminate enemies in space.  We’ve piloted vehicles lots before, but space combat?  That’s new, and a great idea on Bungie’s part.  It breaks up a monotonous feeling that was evident in Bungie’s past efforts.  Reach surely features the most variety.

+ Want a challenge? Come get some!  Play this bad boy on Legendary and let me know what you think.  The beginning is deceivably simple, but the truth is that the enemies are smart and ruthless. I always thought Legendary was unbalanced, and this sadly holds true in Reach…but hot dang if you’re looking for a challenge, Bungie has you covered. You’ve been warned.

The Bad:

– Co-op difficulty.  Unlike playing through the campaign on Legendary by yourself, doing so with even just one other person decreases the difficulty significantly. In twenty minutes you can painlessly navigate various missions.  By comparison, going solo requires about an hour per mission.  Why? Simple: one partner can stay back as the other charges in and kills a few grunts.  After the “sacrifice” dies, he/she simply respawns right where the safe partner is. Rinse and repeat, and that’s all she wrote.

– You call that AI? While the enemies are brilliant tacticians, your Spartan allies are hollow-heads.  These guys fire at enemies for ages, but never maintain.  Instead they do one of the following: stay behind cover, shoot at enemies until their shields are gone and then stop, or stand there and do nothing.  This is especially noticeable during the later portions of the game.

The Ugly:

“Thanks for killing me”. I must have uttered those words a dozen or so times while playing the campaign on Legendary. The checkpoint system adapts to your current situation. In other words, if you’re hiding behind a large structure, the game believes you’re safe and may just issue a checkpoint. That’s fine in concept, but not when you have three bullets remaining for eight circling enemies.  I had to restart a mission more than once because of this. I’ve heard many complain similarly, so it’s not just me. If you plan to tackle Legendary, keep an eye on your automated checkpoint areas.

The Lowdown:

Halo: Reach is one of the best Bungie games ever released, and my second favorite in the series after the original.  It’s a testament to a decade’s work on a franchise the world loves.  We created the ‘Cherish It’ award because of quality games like this. Now head out to enjoy Bungie’s final Halo!

6 thoughts on “Halo Reach Review”

    1. Glad you liked it, thanks :). Now as far as I’m concerned this series is dead. Yes I know I’m not giving credit to the new developers, but after this game they have a hell of a lot to prove. Remember one thing, I’m not the biggest Halo nut out there. That mantle belongs to the other staff members ;)

  1. I love the first halo, the other too not so much i like them but not love them, i know this will change with this one, it will become halo 2 for me 8D

    1. Yes sir it will. Everyone that I haven’t shown Reach to that enjoyed the first Halo has immediately fallen in love with it. I just never really enjoyed the storylines of 2 and 3, but this one rules. Play the original Halo after playing Reach and it feels even better ;)

  2. Totally agree. I played through Reach and loved every second of it. It definitely brought me back to unpacking and checking out the original Halo for the first Xbox. I kind of got tired of the Halo series after 2, but I’ve gotten back into it. While I wouldn’t say Reach innovates much at all, it’s such an amazingly solid package that I was hooked. Now I’m going back to playing through the entire series proper again. XD

  3. Always been a casual Halo fan. Never been into the campaign mode or narrative of the series for some reason. The multiplayer is addicting as heck though…and even I came to realize how much effort has been put into Reach’s customization options. The fact that you can do split-screen and online simultaneously is a true testament to its awesomeness. Setting up a local match with all those options…man talk about overwhelming!

    I will say this though…despite the great deal of options available to you, it still plays like your typical Halo game. Very fun gameplay, but aside from the new loadouts it just doesn’t feel evolutionary enough.

Leave a Reply