Halo: Reach screenshot
Halo: Reach screenshot

What this does, though, is allow Reach to reassume that oh-so-familiar Halo mould. But because that formula is so regimentally established, and Reach's demise such a guaranteed certainty, Bungie is left with few opportunities to add characters and rewrite a list of features that would dramatically advance the narrative and action beyond previous games.

Where the game excels from former titles in the series is in its unremitting tide of embellishments, regarding both design and function, which stops Reach from falling down some familiar pitfalls. Over the course of the game's nine levels, there are no recognisable instances of cut-and-paste corridor design, no excessively long sprawls through regurgitated mission objectives and no lengthy backtracks through previous landscapes. The significance this has upon the overall campaign is huge.

When it comes to the process of riddling your foes with bullets, the most noticeable feature to the game comes in the form of Armour Abilities, which function like the Arbiter's cloaking in Halo 2 - represented on-screen as a circle that must be recharged in-between uses. These can be swapped out with others when found in single-player, and allow you to do things like sprint, use a jetpack, drop a shield or generate a hologram. The system works a lot better than Halo 3's slightly cumbersome equipment.

The weapons, too, have all been tweaked and balanced to create the most consistent loadout yet, including a new Covenant needle rifle (get a few hits in quick succession and they'll explode) and UNSC target locator (locks onto tanks, then blows them up) alongside familiar pistols, machine guns and assault rifles.

The real star of the show is unquestionably planet Reach itself, the game packed to the rafters with gorgeous sweeping shots of a tumbling, cracking and dying planet on its very last legs. Take the ice-tipped peaks of one vignette, complete with deep green skies and crisp blue surfaces, or the one that follows a few hours later when the sky (now a regular blue) is intertwined with rippling waves of enemy Banshees.

The first half of the game is essentially a tour of the planet's primary industries - farming, mining, hydroelectric plants and so forth. These rather drab areas are, of course, livened up a bit by the unwinding realisation of the Covenant armada's surprise attack. This is the Covenant as they used to be: mean, cruel and without any bits where you learn about their culture or jump on a chair and punch someone to death.

An interjection halfway through the game takes you through Reach's atmosphere and into a Covenant frigate - the game's only opportunity to have you explore anything non-human in the game. To do this, you pilot a Sabre spaceship and take to dogfighting in the stars in a surprisingly adept sequence that puts many dedicated flight games to shame.

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User Comments

draytone's Avatar

draytone

My friend picked up his copy last night and completed it in one sitting... he looks pretty rough at work today though.
Posted 12:56 on 15 September 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls@ jase_ace_uk

That's because CoD4 wasn't that great; It was CoD2 reskinned with broken multiplayer. MW2 had vastly improved AI, level design, multiplayer balancing and spec ops mode.

Halo Reach didn't have much to improve on. Modern Warfare 2 did.
Posted 12:50 on 15 September 2010
Get2DaChoppa's Avatar

Get2DaChoppa

Great review Martin, has really got me salivating over Reach, it's a must buy for me anyway, but your review has definitely galvanised that.
Posted 12:36 on 15 September 2010
jase_ace_uk's Avatar

jase_ace_uk

But there is little improvement. There was a difference between COD4 and MW2 you felt like you were playing a new game. This games feels the same as a game which I got bored of 2 years ago.
Posted 12:22 on 15 September 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Karlius

Hungry by any chance Karl?
Posted 12:17 on 15 September 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ Woffls

Well I was going to write a bit more but my boss walked in and I pressed post lol. So I'll do it now.

If you buy a certain branded Mince Beef and Onion Pie one week and then purchase the same branded Mince Beef and Onion Pie a few weeks later but this one has an improved recipe yes it may taste a little better but fundamentally it is always going to be made up of the same key components with a little more pizazz.

Yes I did just compare Halo 3 to Halo Reach upgrade to a mince beef and onion pie!
Posted 11:59 on 15 September 2010
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

That and there really are massive differences between this and Halo 3. If you can't see them then you've not invested enough time into the series. Reach practically removes the 'lone wolf' strategy, and you really are relying on team mates the entire time, especially in multiplayer. Most of the maps are more open, which changes the dynamic of the game drastically, not to mention abilities like guard mode and jetpack.
Posted 11:53 on 15 September 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ jase_ace_uk

That's like buying a COD game and complaining it plays like COD.
Posted 11:47 on 15 September 2010
jase_ace_uk's Avatar

jase_ace_uk

Am I the only one who is disappointed with this game. I bought it mainly for the multi player and think its just like Halo 3. Where's the improvement?
Posted 10:36 on 15 September 2010
draytone's Avatar

draytone@ Generic-Username

It's had pretty good reviews everywhere. Check out this article.
Posted 11:50 on 13 September 2010
Generic-Username's Avatar

Generic-Username

(I guess I'll have to be the one to say it...)

Sure is
Show Spoiler bribed reviewers
around here.
Posted 23:31 on 12 September 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ TomPearson

From reading the review, the grand finale wasn't as grand as it could have been. Also, team-mate AI is less than perfect, coupled with the lack of personality in Noble squad. Finally, I guess the "more of the same Halo" routines took a point off.
Posted 22:43 on 12 September 2010
TomPearson's Avatar

TomPearson

" I'm failing to see how, when Reach is such a complete step up from Halo 3, that it receives a lower score. Judging from the sheer scale and quality of content found in this game, this seems like a 10 for sure. I'm not sure what more you needed. "

I asked Martin this the other day, I can't remember the reason he gave me, probably not a straight answer knowing him
Posted 21:01 on 12 September 2010
Neon-Soldier32's Avatar

Neon-Soldier32

I'm unsure of how the lack of audio tapes and achievement counter make it better, but still.

Very glad to see the review wasn't: 'REACH IS SO GOOD THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH IT IT IS PERFECT MASTER CHIEF OWNZ LOLOLOLOL'
...Or to that effect

Thanks to Chris, I'll not be going to Tesco at 11PM tommorow to go queue for my copy!
Posted 17:12 on 12 September 2010
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Yey! It sounds as good as I hoped.

Great review Martin, really outlines what to expect from the game and sounds like you know your Halo.

I'll be getting this on Tuesday from Gamestation with £5 off and a bunch of trade-ins. I'm hoping I can get some good gaming time in on Tuesday night after the kids have gone to bed.
Posted 17:00 on 12 September 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
9
Out of 10
Halo: Reach
  • Compelling campaign
  • Extensive suite of features
  • Excellent multiplayer
  • Retreads familiar ground
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 14/09/2010
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 1,099 54
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