GAMING: Remember Reach... article last week, I was a little excited about the release of this game.
Like really excited.
To this point I think I've devoted every waking second where I haven't been at the bar to this game and having played through the campaign a couple of times, kicked some ass and taken names online and developing a Forge obsession, it's time for a review! Spoiler free don't worry.
An interesting note first of all, you really to make YOUR Spartan in this game. Changing your armour/ emblem/ colours for multiplayer will be reflected in the campaign which creates a seamless experience when going between the two. I think this is inspired of Bungie and a great innovation that more developers should take note of. You ARE Noble 6 wherever you go in this game which makes for a far more impressive and immersive experience.
The narrative for the campaign is good, not as convoluted as the previous Halo storylines involving Covenant, Flood, Forerunners, rebellions blah blah. This is simple; try to repell an invading army. Very refreshing. Aside from a little...creative use of the extended Halo universe the storyline fits right into the series and serves as an excelent prequel and ties everything nicely together with the main Halo trilogy (CE, 2, 3) by the end. It's nice to not be the lone wolf in this game, with missions with other members of Noble team introducing you to other Spartans and attempts to show they they aren't all like the Master Chief's blank canvas badass. It was promised that you would really feel for the Spartans when they fell and to this extent I felt a little dissapointed. I felt that aside from their wise cracks and sometimes ludicrous accents we don't really get to seen the meat and bones of Noble team and when they eventually fall one by one you are left going, "meh" for the majority of the time. The notable exception to this however is Jeorge, the gentle giant of the team who I feel was portrayed brilliantly, with an excelent script and voice acting. He is perhaps the deadliest member of the team yet in his interaction with Prof. Halsey you see his yurning to make her proud almost in a child - parent relatioinship.
Graphically the game is beautiful. Totally a step up from Halo 3 and ODST mainly thanks to the new engine that Bungie used on the game. The two biggest improvements lie in faces, one of the biggest critisisms of Halo 3's graphics and in the background of levels. You can SEE the war going on as opposed to being told it's going on a la Gears of War. Scarabs are taken down by Scorpion companies, mountains are cut in half by orbital plasma batteries, Falcons duel with Banshees in the air. It times it really is stunning.
The voice acting, as in all other entries in the series is exemplary as is the music. It always has that sombre sad tone without becoming depressing, partly I guess to symbolise the hopelessness of Noble's actions on Reach and partly, if you're a romantic like me, to symbolise that this is their last Halo game and it's a sad time for Bungie and the player alike.
Multiplayer has vastly improved too, with the option to vote for a map and gametype in matchmaking as opposed to Halo 3's "veto" system. The new armour abilities and the ability to choose your weapon/armour loadout is an excelent innovation, if a little CoD. The new maps and gametypes are very nice, however my only critisism comes from the fact that I see 50% of all multiplyer maps being variations of Forge World created maps and that really pisses me off. Ok it's nice to play old Halo 2 maps but they all look the same, with the inability to change textures in the editor or the background. It just feels samey. Further the vast majority of the other multiplayer and firefight maps are sections of maps from the campaign meaning you are playing in the same areas whether in multiplayer or campaign. As much as I love the gameplay this seems lazy and uninspired to me in a game that has so much inspiration and passion in it. I really hope they don;t make me pay for new maps in the first DLC, because to me, that's paying extra on top of my £40 to actually get unique maps, which seems like a douchebag move to me.
To conclude, I love Reach. It's a great game and one of the best of the generation so far. Thankfully for the most part it lived up to the hype and you can see the work that Bungie have put into making a fantastic farewell to their flagship franchise. The game is beautiful, immersive and fun. However, when it comes to unique level design for their experience, the teacher would say "must do better".
Free multiplayer DLC please Bungie, don't make me spend 1200ms points for some friggin unique maps.