Humanity has faced incalculable odds since the Covenant fleet has attacked humanity’s primary defenses in space. The year is 2552; the world is still filled with disaster and soldiers dying to defend a sightless struggle to an end for honor, and courage to remember. The Covenant threat has loomed over New Mombasa on Earth, and provides a new worry for United Nations Space Command (UNSC) that overseas Reach, the central planet that is used as a headquarters. Reach stands at the foothold of annihilation of the human race and the struggle for humanity’s history to still remain a reality in the future. Halo: Reach provides an immense experience that highlights the constant struggle for survival and the prodigious actions of a soldier’s duty in the new world where alien invasion seems too familiar. Duty involves placing your life on the line in the unforgettable action of the frontlines, providing an insight to the unfolding tale that makes you believe sometimes the struggle is enduring, and believing in a team that can prevail.
Halo: Reach takes place in late 2552, during the Covenant invasion of the Human colony world Reach, which also serves as the main military center of the UNSC. Halo: Reach depicts the chronicle of the Noble Team, ready to defend UNSC’s fortress on Reach weeks prior to the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, the six-man special operations unit consists of one SPARTAN-II and five SPARTAN-III soldiers from the UNSC list of programs. The central protagonist joins the team as the newest member, SPARTAN-B312 or “Noble Six” and is ready to defend Reach from its ultimate downfall. Noble Team is essentially engaging in a suicidal mission like all SPARTAN project teams (Alpha, Beta before them) to investigate the loss of transmission from a communication relay. Calculating risk from Extremist Revolutionaries which broke out amidst the chaos, the team discovers that it is the work of the Covenant, and an invasion force becomes apparent. As the Covenant prepares an assault on the planet, the UNSC begins their self-sacrificing attempt to protect the planet at all costs or the war may be decisively over.
Halo: Reach brings upon an extensive list of newer features to the single-player campaign that brings nostalgia through the Halo sandbox feature-set while encompassing the core gameplay similar to Halo: ODST. Running and shooting is the primary motive of the challenge, but the finesse comes through the multiple systems in place to balance Artificial Intelligence and player interactivity. The deep void of Space flight also makes an appearance for the first time ever, as players will be able to engage in the ongoing horizon of the starlight. Most critically, the player damage system is similar to Halo: ODST while the HUD highlights environmental features and provides dynamic information about the surrounding while motion sensing is in three dimensions. The illustrious background of Halo: Reach bases itself within having a sleek visual interface that is more accessible to vital information than previous titles while providing full descriptions of other items that are critical to the objective based gameplay. Halo: Reach brings a HUD and attractive interface that a game of high caliber uses to make sure of one thing: interacting with the audience in a simple and elegant way that might be minute, but brings a standing of importance to just the visual interface.
Customization in Halo: Reach places itself at an apex of detail. Halo: Reach further introduces more refined systems such as the equipment and melee context-based action. The first of these systems places itself to the menu that bases itself on customization to the maximum: Armor Abilities. Armor is extensively stronger, and has a newer element than just a model with different visual armor that has no primary benefit other than to balance player health in the face of weapons and enemy threat. The armor can be custom selected in the campaign and finally the multiplayer on respawn and creates a newer element of taking armor around the level designs. Armor abilities range from area effects to direct contusions to other players and are essentially reusable with a cooldown between uses. Coupled with the gameplay action, the armor abilities streamlines itself to the melee action and the visceral combat. The more gritty action-focused title utilizes a long-requested assassination system that places the melee button with a trigger that becomes context-sensitive and carries out an assassination animation. Assassinations contributes to a more satiating feeling that requires the hands for real UNSC justice against the Covenant and creates a more fine tuned action-intense sequence of events.
Weapons have always played an integral part of the Halo experience, and this time is no different. The weapon selection and system has been tweaked and edited from Halo 3, similar to Halo: ODST fashion. Grenades have been lowered in numbers while the classic incendiary and spike grenades will not make a return. Dual-wielding is also not available in Halo: Reach, following the same path as Halo 3: ODST. Instead, weapons have become more powerful with an increased rate of fire to compensate. Many people that loved the feel of dual weapons might find the Halo: Reach system to under deliver, but the realism of the hits make up for this.
Halo: Reach and Halo titles respectively have always placed emphasis on the multiplayer and while the campaign is just the appetizer to the feast, multiplayer is the main course for Halo: Reach. Several modes exist within Halo: Reach that we will not spoil. Single-player campaign can be played cooperatively and is exceptionally galvanizing. Competitive multiplayer gameplay comes into two varieties: party modes and hardcore. Notable party-famed modes from the classic Halo: Combat Evolved makes a return with Race, Oddball, King of The Hill, and finally one of the most memorable modes in Halo history: Slayer. Halo: Reach distends into the hardcore modes with notable gameplay modes that are new additions. Invasion becomes instantly notable as an 8 vs. 8 experience that pits Covenant Elites vs. a team of Spartans, creating a hardcore fondness for picking a side in the ongoing battle in the Halo universe. Arena Mode is the standout for Halo: Reach where players can test their skills and earn rankings based on the matches. As players advance, they will be put into divisions and each division has specific rankings. Ranks are in order of: Onyx, Gold, Silver, and Steel, which adds for an increased identity that other Halo titles missed out on in terms of player profiles and matchmaking which needed an added depth.
Halo: Reach brings close quarters firefighting to an all time prime and the multiplayer editing capabilities to a directorial debut. Firefight sees the duty extended into a radical overhaul since its debut in Halo: ODST. The primary additions come in the form of maps and increased AI difficulty that haunts four players in a galactic shootout event where the players are outnumbered and the weapons are scarcer. The game further scales Forge and Forge World allows aspirant game designers to build intricate details in new map designs of their creation and share them with Xbox Live players for free all over the world.
Halo: Reach takes matchmaking and adds a level of depth to customization within both single-player campaign mode and also multiplayer with cooperative action. Social settings within matchmaking enable players to play with people they want, something which previous matchmaking systems completely miss out on. Customizations follow through to every player’s profile and allow each multiplayer avatar to be seamlessly integrated between the single-player campaign and the online game through the Halo: Reach Armor shop, a shop which allows armor to be bought through a credit system that can be earned in regular modes, party modes, and even the Halo: Reach Arena. The primary customizations within the single player campaign and multiplayer action become distingué through custom emblem colors, armor part customizations, and even voice takes precedence with a new form of online gameplay that the Halo series badly needed. Daily challenges will also extend the action into a new age, but have currently yet to be established and involves objectives related to the campaign, Firefight or competitive multiplayer gameplay.
Halo: Reach tries something new with the sight of sound and the colors of the lens. The musical score designed by Martin O’Donnell is more self-sacrificing with low baritones and high sonatas, while the meter of the action seems challenging and ultimately befitting to the life of sacrifice and the gains of very few material for the actual soldiers participating. Furthermore, the engine utilizes the Halo engine and reinvigorates it from level zero and exhilarates it into an all-time new. The Halo: Reach design team furthers the grittiness of the action through level design and by making the narrative equally encapsulating into a documentary-flared lens that seems surreal and believable, like a video from a consumer High Definition camera. Halo: Reach promises to give players a reinvigorating experience that has been reborn from the roots, and while it shows certain elements of ODST, it makes sure to reinvent the foundations of the Halo franchise.
Halo: Reach slights any first-person shooter that sticks to one formula and expects to get a payout for doing next to nothing. While the features are subtle, major changes are prominent in effect through the single player campaign and even the online multiplayer make the life of a SPARTAN project soldier breathe a life of its own. Halo: Reach comes with incredible narrative, insurmountable odds against alien invasion, and incognitable action that will leave anyone that pays for the Standard, Collectors, or Legendary Editions assuaged into wanting more Halo. It is hard to imagine that this is the last Halo title by Bungie Studios, but Halo: Reach pays a homage to a nostalgia that will never be truly forgotten and will live on. This is the very same nostalgia that introduced us to a Master Chief we have kept looming in our hearts, freedoms, and guns. It is the very same nostalgia where all of our friends finally decided to get together and do something more than just talk about nothing, but believe in something. Bungie Studios gives a solemn goodbye to a Golden Era which reminds us of all the SPARTAN soldiers that will never be forgotten, even if we lose our humanity in the ultimate sacrifice. There is one thing that Halo: Reach and all the predecessors before it have done further: they kept the idea of something worth fighting for in our hearts. More is to come. The belief that the war is never over against the Covenant. We need more soldiers like you.