Halo: Reach screenshot
Halo: Reach screenshot

As for the rest, the aesthetic is human architecture on another world: a hospital looks like a hospital, for instance. There are very few ornate alien artefacts to unearth, although the surface of Reach offers plenty of variety and a distinct look far removed from the lush playgrounds of those elusive Halo rings.

Bungie perfected their 'thirty seconds of fun' philosophy iterations ago, and by the time we're traipsing around the shiny, Apple-esque city of New Alexandria there's the leering sense the developer is basically phoning in the level design: have some grunts run around for a bit, a few elites pop in and then, bam, a couple of hunters every other level to cause all kinds of problems. We've seen it, been there and, if you've ever had a look at the clothes selection at a branch of Gamestation, probably bought the t-shirt.

Again, though, it's hard to begrudge these familiar sequences when they're so technically accomplished. It's the usual Halo story, but it's easily Bungie's best campaign to date, though the later levels are guilty of existing in the slipsteam of the early game and the grand finale could have been a little more, well, grand.

Still, it's a clever balancing act on Bungie's part. The central conceit to the plot of the game is that Team Noble are, for the most part, powerless to stop what's going on around them. Whereas Master Chief would be running and gunning through Covenant high command, probably to blow off the finger of the person in charge of killing the planet before he hits the switch, Team Noble are thrown into the epicentre of the conflict, forced to see colossal events unfolding without the aid of briefing screens, intel or a friendly A.I. for exposition.

Still, some bits come across as slightly odd. A lavish, first-person scuffle with an Elite, which follows a sequence that's perhaps the best use of night vision since the Paris Hilton sex tape, puts you so close to your enemy you can see the slime on his quadruple-hinged mouth, though this is very near the start of the game and kicks off a trend that's never repeated.

It's also telling, perhaps, that Bungie has trimmed off much of ODST's (and gaming in general) superfluous features. The screen is never graced with an Achievement tracker, and Reach's surface isn't littered with a bounty of collectible audio logs. It simply focuses on the campaign, and Halo: Reach is all the better for it.

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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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