If ODST showed the Halo series could survive without Master Chief taking centre stage, Reach shows that planetary defence would probably go a lot smoother if he did. In his stead are the six-strong Noble team, a band of rugged SPARTANS dutifully tasked with driving warthogs, using melee attacks and being far too cool to ever look at any the many explosions they cause.

And, yes, Noble Team are a competent alternative to the stoic, one-man-army antics of Master Chief, the squad often going about their business by splitting off into smaller groups and kicking naughty Covenant bottoms. When it comes to acting as a posse of AI sidekicks, they certainly know how to get the job done. But Halo: Reach is billed as an emotional experience, and Noble Team have about as much collective personality as a bag of potatoes with faces drawn on. Watching their tumultuous downfall carries absolutely no sentimental weight whatsoever.

Part of this comes from one of the biggest examples of dramatic irony practiced in recent years. Reach's downfall is preordained, and its very destruction segues into the opening sequences of the original Halo: Combat Evolved. Given that Master Chief was introduced as the last surviving SPARTAN, you know Noble Team's activities aren't going to go exactly to plan.

This doesn't translate to an experience anything less than stellar, but if you bought into the belief of Reach showing the emotions of those giant superhumans, the ones living underneath those shiny visors, your expectations will need to be readjusted. Their role in the game is staunchly as support, with all their supposed expertise and offensive potency going up in a puff of smoke whenever the black bars roll away and the shooting begins.

Jorge is the useful one, a thunderous man-mountain who struts around with a minigun and actually manages to Get Things Done. On the other end of the scale you have Emile, who's all bark and no bite: the skull painted onto the front of his visor hides the fact he's utterly useless the one time he takes to the stage. In the middle you have chatty sniper Jun and the po-faced seriousness of deputy Kat and bossman Carter.

They all exist to make way for you, however. Noble Six, whose only identifiable shred of personality comes from getting chewed out at the start of the game for having some lone wolf tendencies in his top-secret file. Six's background is classified, and his opportunities to speak are scant. He, like Master Chief, is almost entirely a blank slate, existing solely to facilitate the player's submersion in the world.

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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
Halo: Reach
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: 1,960 127
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