I will keep this succinct (as possible), as the last time I wrote up a game, one intrepid fan (Emmett’s Dad) immediately checked my gamerscore and then called me out for not having actually finished the game.
Please note: this is a “write-up” of my “impressions,” not a review.
So you’re on the fence about Halo: Reach …
I’d love to lie to you here, and tell you I get it, that your apprehension makes sense, that your entertainment money is possibly better spent on something else (well …. it is possible; see upcoming review of Mieville’s Kraken …). But to be honest, coming form a group of gamers who have almost religiously and dutifully devoured every Halo main-franchise game since inception, I’m kind of shocked at the apathy out there.
My theory is that ODST really threw a lot of people off. That game, originally conceived as an add-on for Halo 3 but later pressed into its own unique disc, was contentious, controversial, and may have scared people away from subsequent Halo games. And while Reach does echo many of the ideas of ODST, rest assured that Reach is a for realsies Halo game.
But Master Chief …!!!!!
I like throwing this warning out there for people – you do not play as Master Chief in Reach. In fact, you are a unique and new Spartan joining an elite team of Spartans during the Covenant siege on Planet Reach. You can (and I in fact do) play the entire campaign as a female Spartan.
The game is the very direct prequel to the first Halo game, so you can expect some familiar faces and such, but you are not Spartan John-117.
So its, like, BEFORE Halo?
Just before Halo. Leading directly up to Halo. And if you’re not terribly interested in Halo lore, a brief primer (believe me, sans spoilers for Henri and Maryanne-ah) …
Reach if a planet inhabited by humans. The Covenant want to get to Earth and kill all the humans. Reach is their next stop, and has a lot of humans on it. The Spartans exist on reach (were in fact created there), but it doesn’t look like there are enough of them to fend off the entire Covenant Armada.
Sounds pretty dark, eh?
Excuse the pun here, because the plot is very dark, for sure, but more importantly the art style is significantly darker. This is a game played in shadows, and the enemies are more sinister and fiercely drawn with heavy shading and dark color palettes. In order to create a much more somber and desperate mood, the enemies are now less comical, more entirely frightening. Everything is crafted to be harder to see, and completely vicious when closely examined. Not that Halo was ever the FPS equivalent of a Kirby game, but previous entries had bright and shiny palettes and nearly everything glowed, including the enemies. Not so much this time around, and the change is so engrossing, conveying the mood so perfectly.
So what’s this about Modern Warfare then …
Speaking purely of the single player campaign, and without spoiling anything, this game is HEAVILY influenced by COD:MW. You play as part of an elite precision squad with the typical squad make-up: heavy gunner, sniper, tech expert, head-case with a skull painted on his gear. The interactions between the team members in the field and over coms tell the plot as it happens. Standard issue stuff.
But where you really see these touches are in the gameplay itself – duo sniper missions, shifting objectives, the crafting of the occasional cutscenes during combat, the tactics required for objectives … I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that if you liked the MW games, you will like the new additions to Reach.
Um …. its a Multiplayer Game, Dummy.
Yeah, I guess it is. Honestly, I typically reserve my online multiplayer for groups of my own friends. Its much easier to deal with getting completely dominated by the racist homophobic 11-year-old when I have a few friends on my team to commiserate with. Also, this.
Besides, I mostly play these games for the single player. True story.
What I can say is this: the online campaign allows UP TO 16 PEOPLE! And before you start claiming overkill, the maps in this game (yes, campaign!) are large enough to easily accommodate 16 people. Add in variants like the ever-present skulls, limited or no respawns, and in-game-challenges (think MW’s leveling challenges), and you’re suddenly looking at a very complex system that certainly felt challenging with 4 people.
Hoping to hit up a 16-man campaign with all skulls on legendary.
And once you (yes, YOU) pick this game up, I will be happy to go online and be called a “fag” repeatedly while the prepubes teabag my corpse!
Look, this game is a no-brainer. Don’t be so stupid, stupids. Get this game and add my gamertag ASAP!
Incidentally, it’s “Prince of Why” – add yours here for friends!