Halo: Reach screenshot
Halo: Reach screenshot

Then, of course, there's multiplayer. Firefight makes its return, tweaked and buffed so that it supports user-set rules - such as only running for a limited set of rounds - alongside Xbox LIVE matchmaking. Six maps are available and the idea is, as before, to blast away packs of enemies as a team, using a shared pool of lives and weapons, but it's certainly a more robust implementation compared to its foundling state in ODST. And its co-op trappings are just as compelling as ever.

Forge World, too, beefs up Halo 3's Forge mode by turning an entire Halo installation into a series of moveable blocks and pieces, allowing users to create DIY versions and gametypes on-the-fly with other players. You can fiddle with a coast, quarry, coliseum and even a cheeky inclusion of the iconic Blood Gulch. It might not be for everyone, but it's hard to fault the wealth of options Bungie has provided to budding modders.

Traditional adversarial modes now feature oddball-esque Headhunter, where you hoover up as many skulls (generated by killing foes) as you can get your hands on. Stockpile has you carting multiple flags back to your base zone and then nipping into enemy territory to nick off with some more. These slot very nicely into the map rotation, alongside traditional Team Slayer, King of the Hill and CTF.

Invasion brings a touch of objective-based multiplayer to the series, pitting Spartans against Elites (each with their own abilities) and having them take on various tasks that usually involve standing around in big packs waiting to be picked off by a few cheeky grenades. There are now so many playlists padding out the multiplayer screen it's amazing the box doesn't have stretch marks over it. And don't even get me started about the inevitable waves of DLC.

Actually, playing multiplayer is a treat. The weapon selection is better than it's ever been, and trimming out things like dual wielding has allowed Bungie to pare the experience back and keep it regimentally focused. The DMR, which serves as the replacement for Halo 3's oft-abused Battle Rifle, is still potent without ever feeling nearly as cheap, and even taking someone out with the standard assault rifle is more satisfying than it's been in the past. Melee remains satisfying, too.

Armour abilities slot into the mix in the form of prescribed loadouts, easily determining your starting gear and allowing Bungie to keep control over the creative options available on each map. Other weapons are strewn across the maps, as always, and ardent players will quickly find that mixing both together is the key to developing long-term strategies.

Tying both single and multiplayer together is the XP system, doling out rewards after accomplishing pretty much any in-game action and allowing players to dress up their SPARTAN (across all modes, including campaign) from a hefty selection of boots, helmets and shoulder pads. You can even unlock Master Chief's voice for Firefight, if you're prepared to invest a gazillion hours.

The robust and extensive suite of features make for a compelling overall package. It's an incredible campaign, and its less bombastic plot and clear-cut story stop it from getting bogged down in the sense of being overworked. Bungie has clearly proven it can step out of Master Chief's gigantic shadow, although I'm not so sure Microsoft will be able to do the same. Anyone following the Halo series for the last decade couldn't ask for a better game, as Bungie has exited its most precious series with one almighty, planet-shattering bang.

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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: 1,291 30
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