Halo Reach Review: How Much Is It Worth?
There are games that redefine their genre, leading the way for that style of gaming. Then, there are games that re-invent the game itself. Sometimes, re-inventing the game itself isn’t enough for the community, especially when it comes to FPS. Halo Reach successfully retains its position as one of the top FPS for consoles, while changing the formula enough to add new elements to a proven system. The old dog learned some new tricks in this case. You’ll find everything you would expect from a Halo in here, and if you’re not a fan of the series then this is probably the best game to get you into the series if you haven‘t tried it yet. If Reach doesn’t get you addicted to fraggin’ your friends or the pleasure of nailing another player with a sticky grenade on their forehead, then you won’t be a Halo player. When you buy this game you are purchasing possibly the deepest online FPS on consoles today.
I’m going to cut through the basics of Halo, skipping over its controls and main themes and ideas. it’s the quintessential shooter of the last decade. The very game that carried the original Xbox into millions of living rooms on word of mouth alone. I will tell you that in comparison to past Halos, the controls feel the best they’ve ever felt. A few actions have been remapped to other buttons, but overall it’s the same experience control wise aside from the armor abilities. The controls aren’t hard to master, so if you’re the kind of person who casually played a FPS on your PS2, or if Goldeneye was the last time you threw down in split-screen shoot outs, you won’t have too hard of a learning curve to overcome to play Halo Reach. The meat of this package is the online/offline multiplayer and we’re going to get right into it.
One of the reasons why the multiplayer is so deep is the new armor abilities. There are several abilities that each have their own advantage and disadvantage. You can deploy a drop shield to protect you from enemy fire for a limited time, or make a copy of yourself that will walk to a specified location drawing fire while you can sneak up on opponents. Also, you can stop and pound the ground with your fist causing anyone near you to take damage while you regenerate your shield. This ability essentially makes you invincible for a few moments and gives you a breather but makes you very vulnerable when it wears off and you are completely immobile. Jet Packs have also made their way to Halo, and they are awesome. You can fly into the air for a small duration of time (your Jet Pack charge regenerates when not in use) to see the play field, or get a shot on someone from a better view. You move rather slowly in the Jet Pack, but its effective for dodging close quarters combat for a second until the other players get their sights on you. Snipers might use this to get to spots on the map that most can’t get to. You can become invisible for a short time with another armor ability, and this is one of my favorites as it gives you the ability to creep up on enemies and get instant melee kills from behind. You can’t move much without exposing yourself with this ability, and firing your weapon exposes you. I recommend sneaking to the enemy’s location with this ability and using a shotgun for close quarters kills. The Sprint ability finally allows Halo players to do something COD players have been doing for years, and that is run for your life.
These abilities are the “big” addition to the Halo online multiplayer formula. All classic modes like Slayer, King of the Hill, CTF are here along with Firefight and Infection. Firefight can be played with up to 4 people online and offline. it’s a fun co-operative way to level up your online profile. The campaign can also be played co-operatively making the story mode not a lonely experience. Infection mode is a favorite of mine where a few players begin the game as zombies and have to infect the other team of Spartans until all are infected while the Spartans must last the whole round without being killed and turned into zombies. Its particularly satisfying to join a horde of zombies and overwhelming a single player. At this point in 2010, every online shooter could have a fun zombie themed mode. I enjoy the chance to play as the zombies themselves and have to approach this mode with a different strategy than other modes. Of course there are multiple variants for each multiplayer mode, like Firefight can be played with everyone using sniper rifles or RPGs. There is normal Slayer mode where you either play in a free-for-all or Team based Slayer, there is classic Slayer where you don’t have armor load outs if you’re going old school. The maps are varied and have nice spots for intense battles, each having their own secrets and quirks.
More features carried over from Halo 3 are Theater and Forge. Theater is where you can take screenshots and videos from your online matches. If you wanted to prove to your buddies that you really are good against strangers online when you keep getting your ass kicked in local matches? Record it and prove it! Forge allows you to create your own multiplayer maps and play them online. This promotes creativity and can break the monotony of the normal multiplayer maps. These two modes are improved upon from Halo 3, and as the community builds we will see more comical online videos and more awesome inventive maps.
The game play is nearly the same as past Halos. There is a bit less focus on the “space” jump then in past installments, and overall a grittier feel to the entire experience. Melee attacks from behind provide instant kills, and aside from the new armor abilities it is exactly the same. You have your regular grenades and sticky grenades, and there are numerous weapons. There are enough weapons that it will take you some time getting used to which ones you want to use, while the matchmaking will force you to use variety and try new weapons depending on the map size, mode details, etc.
Campaign mode is a solid 8 hours depending on your skill level and which difficulty you select. It can be played co-operatively with friends both locally and online. There are intense moments in the story mode, and it never really slows down in pace. You play as Noble 6, a nameless solider who has a “classified” past. Without revealing too many details, the story does take on some side stories with supporting characters, but the majority of your time playing the campaign will be shooting. You get to use most if not all of the new armor abilities during the course of the campaign, usually you get the opportunity to use a new ability just before when you need it most. An issue I had in the campaign is that there are moments when the AI of your teammates isn’t the best. Often I’d have Kat or another character driving a warthog only to stop somewhere and stay still without getting out of the vehicle. This caused me to traverse some areas on foot when driving would’ve been much quicker. I could’ve solved this by driving it myself, but I wanted to man the gun but evidently my AI partners didn’t want that.
There is a lot of replay ability in the campaign, but if you’re not interested in the online portions of this game then it may not be a good $60 value for you. The campaign is short and though it is fun it isn’t worth the price of admission alone. Adding online multiplayer makes Halo Reach instantly worth more than what you’re going to pay for it. There are tons of easter eggs, unlockables, and ways to customize your character. The achievements don’t feel tacked on like in some games, each representing something incredibly fun or a particularly significant challenge. All in all it is a terrific value if you want the whole experience and Halo diehards will be more than pleased with the additions in Reach. Speaking of money, it is time to put a value on this terrific game, and that is a hard task to accomplish. Depending on what you are looking for in this game you could potentially get much more value out of it than you could ever pay in stores. If you plan to make this one of your main online multiplayer games, then the multiplayer alone merit’s a purchase of $60 due to its variety and addictiveness. The wealth of modes and options in both online and offline multiplayer merit that price. The single player campaign can be played co-op with numerous people. It clocks in around 7 hours, and has some cool achievements which will likely push the play time up towards 12 hours or more if you’re hunting for gamerscore. While the campaign is pretty well paced, and has some awesome moments I wouldn’t recommend spending more than $15 on the game if you plan to never touch the multiplayer portion of the game. As a whole package, as long as you touch every game mode and explore the many ways this game can entertain you I’d personally say the right price to pay for this game is around $40. Anything below that is a steal, and the title certainly earns its cost quickly as it will likely be sitting inside your Xbox 360 for months to come.
Game Rating: It’s worth a solid $40
Summary: So long as you enjoy the online portion of Reach you will feel like you got every penny you spent given back to you, however some may be disappointed by the short campaign. Having no friends to play with also takes a hit on the value this game delivers.