Halo:Reach – Game Impressions

Hello again dear readers, it is I, Mr Ghosty back from my shore leave and ready for action once again. I’ve long been touting the virtues of Bungie‘s swan song, Halo:Reach and I’m glad to report that save for a minor disappointment at not being able to have a Forge World map filled with forklifts, I was not let down.

Campaign: The campaign of the game was one of the most shocking parts of the game’s overhaul, we’ve known from the beginning that this game wouldn’t continue the story of Masterchief, but I was personally surprised at how deeply attached to the characters I became after just a couple of missions. Another interesting feature that seems to have made a comeback from Halo:CE is the inclusion of seeing the health bars of marines who are fighting alongside you. Bungie took this one step further by giving each and every one of the ill-fated buggers a name which makes you feel mildly guilty when you failed to protect them. As with all Halo games you’re not penalized for failing to protect your charges, but it certainly makes the going easier if you do, even when not considering the aforementioned guilt.

The story follows the efforts of Noble Team, a group of Spartans tasked with doing what they can to save lives as the planet literally falls around their ears. Without going into too much detail to avoid spoiling it for anybody, the game’s story is hands down the most human and visceral of the Halo franchise. The gaming mechanics are nothing to disregard either, the classic “feel” of Halo has returned, but the nuances  added make it a fun and challenging experience.

I am also glad to report that since we do not know the Flood exist at this point in the canon, there is no Flood in the game. Apologies for anyone out there who had a hankering to slay more of Bungie’s version of a zombie +bird flu epidemic, I shall not weep for their lack of inclusion in this iteration. Before anyone manages to point out that ODST didn’t feature the flood either, I will say that I do not count that as a separate game from Halo 3. The elites in this game are what I think they had failed to be in any of the previous Halo games, scary. Because we cannot understand their speech yet, all the player gets to hear are guttural noises and a very alien language. This feature alone does wonders in heightening the atmosphere and grounds the player firmly in the idea that they are fighting a brutal and alien force and best not be taken lightly.

Forge World: Before continuing any further I want you all to sit back for a moment and close your eyes, think back to a time as a child when you got a brand new toy and you marveled at how massive it was, as well as the sheer amount of joy you foresaw having while playing with it. Got that in mind? Great. That feeling right there is but a shadow of the feeling I felt upon loading up Forge World for the first time. As many a fan have done, I had diligently watched any and all media coming to me about this marvel of modern multiplayer and had even gone so far as to begin planning some map ideas well in advance of the game release. When my Spartan boots landed in the mud of this fine world, I could literally do nothing but fly a Falcon around and point out to my significant other all the things I “could” do.

After the initial shock wore off, I set to work building my first map and the experience was a great one. The controls for moving and positioning objects are intuitive and once the player takes a few moments to get their head around the new workings, it’s a pleasurable experience. The inclusion of pre-fabricated structures also aids greatly in the building process, as well as the ability to further customize the map by the inclusion of more lighting elements, and added special FX. The forge experience has built upon the innovation that was Halo 3’s Forge, and does not dissapoint in the (almost) slightest. My one gripe with the Forge World was that I wasn’t able to create a map that was simply a warehouse in which I could drive around aimlessly maneuvering my forklift to and fro enjoy the silky sounds of the reverse warning signal when I backed up.

Firefight: This game mode will admittedly be the one mode in the game I probably play the least of the three, I can see no flaws, but rather enjoyed the hour and a half I spent in one Firefight match farming achievements. I suspect that with the ability to go into matchmaking and play Firefight with health pack sucking strangers, I will give this mode more time than I did in ODST, but it is definitely not my primary meal in the buffet that is Halo:Reach.

My overall impression of the game is one of awe with just a touch of melancholy. This is Bungie’s last entry into the Halo franchise for a while (if not forever) and with all they managed to build upon, 343 industries has some mighty big shoes to fill. My apologies for lack of “relevant” pictures in this post, but I am currently the victim of one of the inevitable bugs that comes from early adoption of a game and wasn’t able to nab more pictures from the game. To send this post off with a bang, I did manage to squeak out one tidbit of video before the banhammer gate slammed shut. It comes from a recent multiplayer match in which I managed to snag the game winning kill, and with an assassination to boot.

Stay Frosty fellow Spartans, MrGhosty over and out.

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