Halo: Reach screenshot
Halo: Reach screenshot

They're all dead. Everybody is dead. Everybody dies. Reach is glassed by the Covenant in August 2252. But maybe Team Noble, the pack of scrappy Spartans who star in Halo: Reach, manage to find a way to survive for future sequels. Everybody else dies, though. Dead. Dead. Dead.

Maybe I'm not making myself clear enough: Reach will definitely have an unhappy ending. But it also has quite an unhappy beginning, as Team Noble gets dispatched to find out why a farm's communications (and also the USMC force sent to investigate) has gone down. We all know why, of course - it's the Covenant. They're all on Reach and they're going to murder everybody - but on the plus side, this sets up an intriguing narrative situation where the player is far more aware of what's going on than the characters. "Don't look around that corner," you might wish you could say, "because you'll get totally murdered by an Elite."

It sounds like the perfect setup for a horror film, and Bungie embellishes the fact by setting the first level in a spooky farm that is completely desolate - other than the occasional Moah, a deer-like indigenous life form that is probably delicious. The scene is drenched in ominous mist, cut-off from the rest of society by deep, rolling valleys and shockingly bad signal. It's all a bit rural, actually, with hay bales, stony paths, pitchforks, rolling fields of green, green grass and steel-framed farm buildings. If the weather conditions were better you could probably harvest a good crop here. Bit of a shame about that Covenant swarm just about to destroy the planet, though.

So, yes, you look about a bit - around a few circular walkways overlooking a cliff, through some sandbag storage buildings and probably in some bushes - but nobody can be found. Nobody apart from a USMC trooper who's been brutally murdered and left in a nasty pose. Ouch. What could have done that? Oh, yes, it's the Covenant isn't it? Silly me.

Some decent scripting and music, the latter thankfully a far cry away from the riff-heavy guitar wailing that played over the E3 demo, competently handles the rising tension. We get to run into some civilians, feebly hiding away in a building and speaking in crazed gibberish. It's the first time in the series Bungie has been really able to flaunt the sheer size of their Spartan super-soldiers, and seeing the armour-clad, genetically-engineered monstrosities tower above regular people emphasises just how much killing you're going to do as soon as the Covenant show up.

You take on the role of Noble 6. This is your character's first mission with Noble Team, so it's a case of some on-the-job learning of your teammates. Here's the skinny: Carter's the boss; Kat is the woman; Jun is the sniper; Emile is probably going to die first; and Jorge is both a SPARTAN-II (which means he's cut from genetically superior cloth, like Master Chief) and probably a bit of a psycho. We can probably save the rest of the getting-to-know-you stuff for the SPARTAN Christmas party, to be honest.

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chelskiboy247's Avatar

chelskiboy247

Cheers Martin, this preview has reminded me how awesome this is going to be. It had somehow slipped to the back of my mind but now I can imagine it being my game of the year.

The campaign sounds like it'll be an improvement, nice to hear their adding a bit more atmoshphere to it. Didn't play much firefight in ODST (mainly the result of no matchmaking) but as you say, it sounds like something I could spend hours playing. The Beta proved that the multiplayer will be as excellent as ever and the new 'Forge World' sounds brilliant.

All in all, it sounds like the complete package.
Posted 14:31 on 31 July 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Definitely one game I'm anticipating the most this year. Firefight sounds more grittier than ODST but Forge seems the one with the most improvement. Being able to create your own map on a larger scale of a map and less of the fiddly controls which Halo 3 had. More user-friendly this time from the Forge video I watched on Bungie.net.

Limited Edition for me. Can't wait to perform some mid-air assassinations on some players during online.
Posted 10:57 on 31 July 2010
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

Sounds good. The videos look promising, especially the forge video feature, although I'm still not sure the graphics are up to the platforms best yet.
Posted 01:11 on 31 July 2010
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244

looks and sounds amazing, @ martin is the level design more shaped like halo one?
Posted 18:02 on 30 July 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 14/09/2010
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 1,153 47
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