- Publisher: Microsoft
- Developer: Bungie
- ESRB Rating: “M” for Mature
- Genre: First-Person-Shooter
- Pros: Excellent presentation; great campaign; improved Firefight mode; great MP modes; co-op; Forge World; tons of stuff to do; Gruntpocalypse; customization options; awesome, varied gameplay
- Cons: Occasional framerate issues; not a ton of maps
Halo: Reach is a bit like the movie "Titanic". You know how it is going to end (the boat is going to sink / the planet Reach is going to be taken by the Covenant), but the story and characters you meet along the way make things interesting. In the case of Halo: Reach, you play as the newest member of Noble Team, a group of Spartan soldiers (just like Master Chief) stationed on Reach. Your designation is simply Noble 6. You can customize your character with a huge selection of armor pieces, and can even choose if they are a man or woman. What I like is that you aren't some no-name voiceless rookie like so many other games start you out with. You are important by the sheer fact you are a Spartan. You are highly skilled and highly trained. You are a badass hero from the word go. Over the course of the game, 6 as well as the other members of Noble Team are nothing but brave and awesome and you really do care about them by the end.
Halo: Reach is a prequel to the original Halo. What you do on Reach directly leads into what happens in Halo: Combat Evolved. The story overall is quite good, and all of the little touches that tie Reach to Halo: CE will give longtime fans of the series goosebumps
The missions you'll play through are mostly the typical Halo mix of on foot and vehicle sections, but with a couple of interesting additions. One level features space combat where you board a ship down on the planet, launch into orbit, and then get to fly around and fight in outer space. This level is remarkably good. The ship controls are incredibly intuitive and the whole mission is crazy fun. Another cool level has you flying a Falcon helicopter around a huge city and helping civilians evacuate by landing on rooftops, fighting your way through the building, and then fighting back up to your Falcon to continue the mission. Very cool. There are also some very well done turret missions thrown in here and there. You know how helicopter "on rails" turret missions are usually awful in FPS because everything moves so fast you can't hit anything? That isn't the case here. The turret missions are actually really fun in Reach.
The campaign overall is excellent. There aren't any crappy levels. The ending sequence is awesome, and I have to add that the post-credits extra gameplay sequence is absolutely stunning.
There is a great gameplay variety here and it is all very well done. The core shooting and grenade tossing gameplay is the best in the business. Vehicle controls just feel right whether you are in a Warthog, Wraith, Falcon, or space ship. The game just plain plays really, really well. It is classic Halo, but bigger. The term "epic" is kind of cliché, but that is what a lot of the campaign battles feel like in Reach. There is so much going on all around you (it is a planetary invasion, after all) and you are but a tiny speck in all of it.
Competitive multiplayer is the same as previous Halo games at the core, but thanks to new weapons, armor abilities, and a handful of new modes it manages to feel fresh and new. Classic modes like slayer, team slayer, capture the flag, and the like are all present, but new modes such as Invasion (objective-based Spartans vs. Elites protect and defend game) are also a lot of fun. This is pure Halo multiplayer and it is darn good.
There are 9 competitive multiplayer maps along with 5 additional Forge World variants (all made in different locations in the newly expanded Blood Gulch) to choose from, which might not seem like a lot, but with the wide variety of game types and customization options, there is plenty of content to keep things from feeling repetitive. The map designs overall are very good and really show how much Bungie has learned over the past ten years of what does and doesn't work for MP.