Bungee’s latest Halo addition fills in backstory of series hero, Master Chief, in prequel-style epic.
By Jared Vaillancourt [creative writing bureau chief]
The latest installment of the Halo video game series, Halo: Reach is a stunning epic that follows the much-alluded-to fall of one of the most heavily fortified planets in the game’s universe: the Earth-like colony known as Reach. Not only is the story a compelling saga following the tragic death of Noble Team, a group of cybernetic super-soldiers called “Spartans”, but the visual detail, game play and online fun all add up to a game that is interesting, enjoyable and, most importantly, memorable.
The game opens with a first for the Halo series: you get to customize your character, Noble 6.
In addition to choosing your preferred armor colors and emblem, you can choose your gender and purchase upgrades and customized pieces for your armor, creating a character that is totally unique both in the single player campaign and online. That’s right, your customization is applied in the campaign! The Halo franchise is famous for attempting to place the player in the main character’s shoes – Reach takes it to a new level, allowing you to really feel like you are Noble 6.
The campaign starts off a little differently from a traditional Halo game; instead of rushing headstrong into certain death at the hands of vile aliens, you are sent to a small farming village to investigate an unauthorized jamming signal. From your seat on a helicopter-like “Falcon”, you are asked to perform the traditional look-around to calibrate your targeting pitch. Once on the ground, you’ll notice that the weapons have a feature uncommon in the other games; the reticules widen or tighten depending on your movement. This adds a quality of realism to the otherwise extremely sci-fi universe of Reach.
Another interesting feature are the armour abilities that the Spartans can acquire. Abilities like the traditional Active Camouflage, Bubble Shield and Invincibility and new ones like Sprint, Evade and the eternally fun Jetpack add a new dimension to the surreal battlefield, sometimes allowing the cocky player to have his or her moment of hilarity but more often than not giving Noble 6 a fighting chance in the face of a full-scale alien invasion. Which, with the lethal return of the Elites, is what Reach feels like.
Online play is much more fluid as well. Players can either go head-to-head in traditional death matches or team up to take on waves of alien invaders on Firefight levels. The more you play, the more points you get, opening up new promotions and credits to purchase new armor modifications that add a flare of personality, give you a sharper edge or just showcase your rank in the gaming world. No matter why you’re fighting, in Halo: Reach you’ll always be fighting under the scorching sun of a good time.
For those of you out there interested more in plot than in gaming, keep in mind that everything that Noble 6 does on Reach is a prequel to the Halo universe’s famous games. The opening cut scene gives you a brief glimpse of Noble 6’s inevitable fate, with your newly customized helmet lying abandoned on the battlefield, its visor a shattered remnant stained in blood.
For those who have played the original games, it has been said time and time again; no one but the heroic Master Chief survived the Covenant invasion of the planet Reach. For a game that makes you feel like you really are it’s protagonist, that sad end leaves you with an empty, surreal feeling; the experience of death, with the last mission (played after the end credits roll) ending only once you can’t keep the ever-increasing hordes of bloodthirsty Elites at bay.
As an homage to heroes fallen, this game is truly worthy of any collection; the best ever made. Remember Reach.