Nevermind that Bungie
claimed to have “finished the fight” 3 years before with Halo 3
, what was supposed to be the final entry of the series at the time. After the spin-offs of Halo Wars
and Halo 3: ODST
, Bungie returned for what was once again said to be the series’ swan song. As always is the case with this popular series, high expectations have been set. However, once again they have made enough refinements and long-awaited tweaks to please even the most jaded fans.
The options available upon starting the game can be overwhelming at first and the convoluted menus don’t help. Once you start your game of choice, you’ll soon find that this is the same Halo
that you’ve grown to love or hate over the years. It just looks a bit better. The graphical overhaul is impressive, but how could it not be when compared to Halo 3
, with its horribly detailed player models and blocky outdoor landscapes.
The most significant addition to single-player and multi-player is the equipment spread throughout the campaign (or chosen during your load-out phase in multi-player) that gives you new abilities, such as a jetpack or the ability to make a hologram of yourself to distract enemy fire. It’s a simple addition but one that adds a new layer of strategic depth. It seems to stand alone, however, in being a bold, new change for the series.
For the most part, everything you liked about Halo 3
has returned in some form, only bigger and better. Firefight, a co-operative mode where you and your friends take on endless hordes of enemies, has been renewed with seemingly limitless variations, including one that lets you play on the enemy side against your friends. Forge has been redubbed Forge World and for good reason: you now have the ability to create more expansive maps with far less frustration. In addition to all this, you have the traditional multi-player modes that return with all the customization options you never asked for.
There is a work-man like quality that went into Halo: Reach
. Rather than fix what has always been wrong with the series – the lackluster team A.I., redundant nature of the campaign, and needlessly complicated story – Bungie focus on what has always worked and somehow found ways to improve on it. For someone who has never been a fan of the series, I find it hard to applaud Bungie for playing it so safe. You’ll still find playing the campaign alone to be a frustrating affair due to incompetent team A.I. and the infuriating checkpoint system – not to mention that Reach
’s campaign is far from being the best in the series due to pacing and level design. The game might not have the impact or originality of past series entries, but it’s improvements make it a worthwhile investment for those still interested in the series.