Halo: A bit of a stretch.
First and foremost, I would like to make it clear that I am a stout believer that a video game should never stand on its multi-player facets alone. Games like Modern Warfare 2, for which there is absolutely no reason to play the single player campaign, are still fun to play but not worth sixty dollars to hear 12 year olds swearing about how I’m a noob. Even an MMO (it’s in the name) should be fun to play alone. That being said, I am going to split this into two separate sections: The $30 single player and $30 multi-player.
In the past, Bungie and their halo franchise have provided a fun and entertaining story. You, a big bad Spartan, are taking on the entire covenant army to save the Earth.
Cool right? In Reach, being a prequel in the series and even further in the past, you should be kicking so much butt that Master Chief won’t even be necessary. That is almost true. You are the new kid in a group of six lesser Spartans, I’ll refer to them as the uncool kids in school, who are on Reach (the planet) to take care of a pest problem. It quickly goes downhill from there. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who have not played the game but that is slightly impossible. It’s fairly evident that Reach will fall, there’s even a book about it. Don’t focus on the end, that’s depressing. Instead, let’s talk about how we get to this fateful end.
The campaign feels, like all of its predecessors, too short but is oddly the perfect length. Given a difficulty curve like a titration graph, Reach makes you feel good then takes that feeling and shoves it down your throat.
Repeatedly. That aside, Reach does have a decent story included. Of the Halo series, it is the only one that made me actually like the characters in the game. It’s true that you, Number six, have the personality of a fishtank, but that’s an overdone cliche standard in video games anyway.
In addition to the above average story, the campaign goes above and beyond, quite literally, to provide experiences that are noticeably unavailable in the multiplayer. My favorite level in the campaign was when Number 6 was jammed into an experimental space ship and shot directly into outer space. Why, you might ask, would they put him there? He is a Spartan, he shouldn’t be flying. WRONG! He should always be flying. Well, thrusting about, but you get the point.
Flying around in a fighter jet shooting down other ships if incredibly entertaining and I hope that, someday, Bungie decides to include this as a multiplayer variant, but they probably won’t. Sadly, this mission is very short lived and you soon set foot back on ground with your puny legs. Like other Halo games, Reach does have a flair for vehicle combat. Driving around in tanks is still fun, as well as the entire gamut of Warthogs, pickup trucks and forklifts. Most of these are pretty short, unless you’re clever enough to find a way around their roadblocks.
Unlike the previous Halo games, Reach does provide a bit more imperative to play intelligently. There is a lot less ammunition lying about Reach, forcing you to think twice about picking up the rocket launcher with 2 shots or the DMR with a lot more. Also, there is a lot more attention to detail and overall glamor within the game. I noticed primarily on a level sans gravity. In a covenant space ship you jump around, floating from place to place, killin’ some grunts, but when you shoot them there’s not splatter but instead form into little blobs. I found this to be a nice touch, one among many (forklifts being another). The rest of the world is incredibly detailed and, often, beautiful.
Overall, the single player is pretty good. Not incredible or original in any way, but still good. If you liked the first three, you’ll probably like the one that came before all of them. Now, on to multiplayer.
The multiplayer experience is pretty disappointing, and mostly through no fault of Bungie. The main fault for Reach is that it was made for the Xbox and thus connects to the Xbox live (XBL) community, where never a more wretched hive of scum and villainy will you find with an average user age of 15.
Other players aside, Multiplayer work best when treated like playing Monopoly: Its only fun when you can make others in the same room suffer along with you.
Reach does have a few very fun games modes, but you have to rely on those playing with you to vote for the fun one, which is apparently not the one you thought it was. You wanted to play Race? You’re playing Sniper battle now. The only way to have a chance at playing what you want is to have 3 people tagging along to pad your votes.
Even if you get a map you want, which has a high probability since the game shipped with a trifling 8 maps, you probably won’t be playing someone at your skill level. There must be a bug or something in the Reach matchmaking algorithm, because it is incapable of finding people that match your rank. After a few nights of extreme Reach action, I have yet to find opponents that resulted in anything besides a complete steamroll, which can result in a very unfun experience. Though, having jet packs is pretty cool.
In short, the Multiplayer of Reach is more of the same. Yes, the graphics got an update and there are a few aesthetic changes to the overall system but is still the same old Halo everyone remembers and tolerates.
In conclusion, if you haven’t already gotten Halo: Reach…you really aren’t missing out on anything. The single player is fun, but there are better options in the discount bin at Best Buy and the multiplayer really isn’t worth the screaming children you have to put up with. If you are really into Halo, go now and buy the Legendary edition and feel good about yourself, the rest of us are going to McNellie’s.