So everyone’s had a chance to beat it now; what did you think?
One thing I want to comment on that I don’t think a lot of the reviews have is just how much game you get for your dollar. Between the campaign and the various Firefight and competitive modes, you really get a ton of stuff to play with. Add Forge world and it just gets insane.
Onslaught (Ben): Having just completed the game last night, I found myself thinking about all sorts of things about the game. There was a lot to like, but at the same time, I found many of the traits present that prevented me from being totally captivated by the Halo franchise. It’s absolutely a good game, and mostly worthy of the praise it receives.
Delving into the single player, I found that the game started off relatively slow, although intentional it seems to be disorienting in what’s going on, in order to mirror the feeling that Noble Team has. In most missions, you were paired with one other Spartan, and as a result, I feel like the characterization of Noble Team was diminished in some respects. Key dramatic moments with the team feel lost because personally I found there wasn’t enough moments with them to be like “Man, this guy is cool!”
However, as the game approaches the second half, the game ramps up considerably, bringing a slew of dramatic moments which deliver a nice solid punch for the most part, even if you’re not particularly invested into the Halo franchise. Since I’m in that position, I thought it was nice that Reach isn’t complete fan service, it attempts to deliver on a story that provides insight for fans of the series but also tries to deliver something compelling for lesser fans. The end, I felt was rather fantastic, although the final mission was rather long. But it brought the tone I was hoping out of the game. Something about Halo to me lacked grit. It lacked a darker tone to me from what I could remember, and I was hoping that Reach would have a different tone/atmosphere to it compared to previous game. By the end, I was not disappointed in that regard.
The mechanics are as solid as ever, although I find myself now deciding I must not be the biggest fan of the large battleground skirmishes that Halo provides in general. Is it fun? Sure, I really do enjoy it, but only to a certain degree. I cannot help but feel like there should be more intensity to the skirmishes, and Reach does deliver on this, but again, it’s mostly in the latter half of the game, rather than the beginning.
Moving on to the multiplayer, Halo: Reach delivers the best interface I’ve seen out of any game. Period. It’s just….great, everything seems so much better integrated than any other game. The multiplayer is usual Halo fare, with the classes adding a slight twist but I seem to forget about it often, and usually, it doesn’t play too big of a factor. Having only played Team Slayer, it seems like there aren’t that many maps, but I couldn’t be too sure. That said, Halo’s bread and butter has always been its multiplayer, and its still very much a great experience. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Halo, I’ve always enjoyed playing multiplayer a lot.
So that’s my initial thought, from a non-Halo fan-ish perspective. This is different enough to be enjoyed by non-fans but familiar enough to be loved by the fans. It has all the characteristics of the game, but it feels more mature in some way, a representation of how Bungie has grown over the past 10 years. As a package, it’s absolutely massive, and in the 15-20 hours or so that I’ve played of it, I haven’t even played with Firefight or messed with Forge, so that says a lot as is!
I think Reach hits the bar that even Halo haters can’t deny, Reach is simply a sum of all Halo parts that’s awesome. What you have is essentially the pinnacle of the series, story wise I think Halo CE still wins as Reach had problems conveying it’s narrative but overall there’s just so much co-op and MP content there’s little to not love in Reach. I’ve managed to get in over 270 games thus far in the multi-player and can’t truly find any problems that usually surface within the first few weeks that tend to ruin experience etc. Any cheap tactic can be countered with coordinated team work thus far which i’m sure could change…
One thing I will say about Reach’s single player is they managed to bring back that feeling of desperation that we haven’t felt since Halo CE. The feeling of being overwhelmed and that it’s probably not going to be okay… As the Chief in 2 & 3 you just never really felt threatened by what was being thrown at you. In Reach that changes, and the scene’s that follow were very well done and actually pull you into the universe. Halo 2 & 3 felt a bit detached, Reach does not share this flaw.
My Halo chart now looks as follows:
Halo CE > Halo: Reach > Halo 3 > Halo Wars > Halo: ODST > Halo 2
Simply put you shouldn’t miss out on Halo: Reach this fall.
Knowing you’re not too into the series Ben, I was curious what you thought of the campaign. I kept silent on it with you because you know how I wanted the game to end and I figured if I told you I was extremely satisfied, it would have been an inadvertant spoiler.
I have to agree with your thoughts on the MP, Bungie just blows away other devs when it comes to the MP component of their games. When Halo 3 came out I figured everyone else would start doing their versions of Forge and Theater mode. Yet here we are three years later, hardly anyone has (Uncharted 2 being the main example I can think of) and Bungie has created Forge World.
I heard a great comparison of Halo and other MP games the other day that holds true for me: “I can play Halo for awhile and actually relax a bit, where other titles, like CoD, seem to have a more serious feel to them. And while I enjoy them, I can’t unwind while playing. With Halo, I just don’t care as much about winning the match or if I had a bad round so long as I had fun yet with CoD it’s “win win win!”. Serious business.
As for the future of the series, anyone worried about it now that Bungie is gone or do you think Frank O’Connel and 343 Studios will uphold the standards?