|Acclaimed developer Bungie's final Halo game for Microsoft serves as a prequel to the sci-fi storyline that began in 2001. An all-new campaign supporting cooperative action for up to four players is included, and in a departure from previous titles, Master Chief is no longer the main protagonist. You are a new recruit to the Noble Team, a six-person squad of Spartan super soldiers, whose members specialize in key roles and wear customized gear. Planet Reach, the main base for UNSC military operations and home to 700 million civilians, is under attack from the alien collective known as the Covenant. Your mission is to assist the human resistance and prevent the Covenant from destroying Reach, Earth's last line of defense.|
The shooting takes place from a first-person perspective, powered by a new graphics engine designed to incorporate large-scale battles in more open environments than in previous entries. Enemy AI has also changed from earlier games, relying more on dynamic actions instead of scripted routines. Each soldier's armor now offers distinctive abilities, depending on the equipped enhancements. A jetpack allows you to fly, active camouflage makes you invisible to enemies, sprint lets you dash at high speeds, and armor lock makes you temporarily invulnerable at the expense of movement. These abilities also play an important role in Halo: Reach's multiplayer modes, which support up to 16 combatants online.
Reach's multiplayer component includes such past favorites as Team Slayer and King of the Hill along with new options. In Headhunter, players collect flaming skulls from defeated opponents and attempt to deposit the skulls in designated areas for points. If you are killed before you reach the target area, your collected skulls will fall to the ground for others to retrieve. Stockpile is a variant on capture the flag, while Generator Defense pits three Spartans versus three Covenant Elites in a battle to defend or destroy generators. Invasion features a series of three team-oriented skirmishes designed in a similar fashion to Battlefield: Bad Company's rush mode. In addition, players can create custom scenarios with the Forge option, take in-game screenshots, earn credits to cosmetically enhance their soldier, and record video to study combat techniques or to share with the Halo community.
|Platform||Microsoft Xbox 360|
|ESRB Descriptor||Blood, Violence|
|Number of Players||1-4|
|Game Special Features|
|Game Series||Halo Series|
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Reach tells the story of where the Halo saga all began, a human colony named Reach. When the Covenant appears out of nowhere and begins an invasion of massive proportions, it is all the humans can do to fight to stay alive long enough to evacuate the planet. You play as the quiet and faceless Noble 6, the newest edition to a group of elite Spartan III's known as Noble Team. As part of this group you'll face off against seemingly insurmountable odds while executing top secret, nigh impossible missions. The story is a grand-arcing affair, taking you from cities to barren wastelands, and from lush vegetated mountains to a cavernous underground archeological site. One mission even sees you take to close-orbit space as you fight to defend a docking station against incoming waves of Covenant fighters. Needless to say, this game fully fits the definition of epic.
Although you only play as the one Spartan throughout, Reach can best be described as an ensemble game. There are only a handful of moments throughout the campaign that you are without the company of at least one fellow super-soldier. This presents one of the games oddest dichotomies. The enemy AI is markedly improved from its predecessors, especially on Legendary. Even one single Elite needs to be respected, or you will quickly find yourself plastered against a nearby wall with the guttural laugh of the Elite echoing down the corridor. However, in either an effort to offset this, or as a story telling mechanism (to make sure they don't die), your Spartan companions are invulnerable. This can obviously be used to your benefit allowing them to soak up the hits as you pepper the enemies from a comfortable fifty yards away.
However, if you are playing on Legendary this could be your only lifeline in some areas, as some of the fights can be ridiculously hard at times. [i](Note, when I discuss the AI or toughness of the game throughout this review, I'm referring to facing them in any way that does not use the plasma pistol + battle rifle “noob combo.” Even though this is a legitimate way to play, I find that it trivializes the experience and tend to not use it.)[/i] As mentioned earlier, the AI for Elites has improved tremendously. They dodge and flank like never before, leaving the unprepared as an easy target. Vehicles can also can be punishing to the unwary. One new vehicle in particular stands out, as it's quick-firing cannon and lightning-fast driver reflexes will spell certain doom to you at least several times throughout the campaign.
However, to help you through the story, you'll find the newest element to the Halo games in the form of Armor Abilities. These have taken the place of the gadgets from Halo 3, and serve to be a main staple of the game play. They come in several flavors, including Active Camo, Armor Lock, and Jet Packs. These all see full use in online matches as well as in single player, and can at many times decide the difference between life and death. I lost count of how many times I made it around a corner under a hurricane of plasma fire with only a sliver of health left thanks only to Sprint.