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

SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

What a brilliant read!
Buying this game now! :D
All thanks to you Martin ;)
Posted 16:38 on 12 September 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod@ Paradoxed

An envelope full of money?
Posted 16:14 on 12 September 2010
Paradoxed's Avatar

Paradoxed

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.
Posted 16:01 on 12 September 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

I have a sneaky suspicion that come tomorrow when I'm playing this, if Shopto have done their job, that I won't have a f*cking clue what's going on.
Posted 14:01 on 12 September 2010
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ IndoorHeroes

Balls :(

Already had mine posted by Play.com, but I would imagine I would have to get to the supermaket and queue for ages.
28 quid plus points mind is very good.
Posted 13:10 on 12 September 2010
IndoorHeroes's Avatar

IndoorHeroes

MCV are reporting that Tesco will be selling the game for £28 when bought with a 2100 MS Point card. Think I know where I'm gonna get MY copy from...

http://www.mcvuk.com/news/40828/Halo...or-28-at-Tesco
Posted 12:59 on 12 September 2010
rbevanx's Avatar

rbevanx@ Clockpunk

You should give the first one ago as well Clockpunk :)

One of my fav games of all time mate.

Edit:
@Soylent_Green_is

YouTube Video

Cracking film :P
Posted 12:57 on 12 September 2010
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ CheekyLee

Quote:
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.
Posted 11:01 on 12 September 2010
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Nice - never really given the Halo series a chance, but I might just pick this up...
Posted 10:51 on 12 September 2010
Soylent_Green_is's Avatar

Soylent_Green_is

Great review, in depth and very interesting. I've never really invested a great deal of time that a halo game demands. Reach seems like a definitive version so I'll give it a try
Posted 10:46 on 12 September 2010
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ Mr_Ninjutsu

Crazy stuff in ODST? Could you expand further on that, because most people felt that ODST was a step back towards CE? Myself included, I felt like the design of the levels was just like the push towards colossal set-piece battles that the first game was so great at.

Excellent read, Martin. I'm glad that you got this one instead of Tom. It's not a complaint about Tom, as his factual and no-nosense style is perfect for many games, but I always prefer it when reviewers put pieces of themselves into what they write. It read for all the world like a "not quite 10" game, so the score was fully justified. And, you got me really wanting to play it NOW!
Posted 10:43 on 12 September 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

Great read. Enjoyed it thoroughly. I don't think I'm sold on Reach as yet. As I've played very little of the Halo series to date, I can't say that Reach excites me that much but that it will be a game I'll try eventually.
Posted 10:31 on 12 September 2010
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244

martin that was a great review mate straight to the point and in depth best way to do it!.
cant wait for this especially due to gettting it free cz of motm, the inasion seems pretty much the same as bad company 2's rush level if im right?
overall i cant wait
Posted 10:27 on 12 September 2010
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu

Well I'm sold! I'm glad to read that it's gone back to how it used to be and not all this crazy stuff that was in ODST. That's how i liked my Halo.

Great review Martin, keep it up!
Posted 09:51 on 12 September 2010
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Good review Martin.

From the videos I have watched of Firefight. It definitely has improved from ODST and of course Forge. Most probably the biggest improvement Reach will have to offer. The multiplayer sounds more awesome than before. I like the choice of more game modes, and to be honest. Halo 3 multiplayer is always plagued with CTF gameplay modes when in social big team mode. You can't beat a good game of Slayer.

I like the Invasion game mode from what I played on the beta of Reach. Will be interesting to see what other maps you are able to play on it.
Posted 09:42 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: 2,346
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