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Halo: Reach may very well be the most anticipated Xbox 360 game of all time, and that is not without a good reason. This prequel to the Halo trilogy was the last game developed by Bungie Studios, the creator of Halo, before they handed the reins over to 343 Industries. Halo: Reach details the last days of a group of Spartans known as Noble Team as they attempt to save the planet Reach from a seemingly endless stream of Covenant aliens. Anyone familiar with Halo lore knows that it does not end well for Noble Team or the planet Reach.
You take the role of the newest member of Noble Team and are simply known as “Noble Six,” and your appearance depends completely on how you’ve customized your character. The character customization allows you to change everything from your helmet to the armor on your wrist. This adds an extra layer of familiarity with this unknown character, and also really helps to distinguish characters while playing the campaign cooperatively. The other characters of Noble Team all have a very distinct personality and make the inevitable downfall of Reach all that much harder to swallow as you find yourself actually caring about what happens to these other 5 individuals.
The campaign does a very good job of advancing the narrative without becoming too repetitive. Just when you start to tire of an area it opens up to a new landscape. The environments are crawling with enemies; you will dispatch an entire group only to turn the corner to find an entire army waiting for you and your squad. Occasionally you get an epic space battle or a Scorpion Tank to ride around in, but the majority of the campaign will be spent running from objective to objective killing anything that remotely resembles an alien lifeform. This type of gameplay is not revolutionary but it does work well in the Halo formula. You definitely feel like part of a squad instead of a lone soldier like Halo’s most famous Spartan, Master Chief. Whether you are new to the Halo universe or a seasoned veteran, the Halo Reach campaign is certainly worth a play through or maybe even two.
Of course the main draw of any Halo game is the multiplayer, and Halo Reach doesn’t disappoint. The multiplayer has a loadout system that allows you to choose abilities and guns to start with. None of these abilities or weapon combos feel overpowered in the slightest bit. You have to commend Bungie for keeping all players on even ground with Jetpacks, healing domes, and armor locking abilities involved. All the standard multiplayer modes, such as Slayer and King of the Hill, are back with a vengeance. Reach also has a few new modes like Headhunter and Generator Defense. Headhunter is a match in which players kill each other to receive skulls that they can deposit at specified zones for points, but beware; if you get killed you lose all your acquired skulls that have not yet been deposited. Generator Defense pits 3 Spartans versus 3 Elites as the Elites try to destroy generators that the Spartans are protecting. The aforementioned armor customization really will set you apart in multiplayer. Credits are earned for almost everything in multiplayer and campaign. These credits allow you to buy new voices and armor for your customized killing machine. If you want to make a Spartan with Sgt. Johnson’s voice and flies swarming around his head, you can do it, provided that you have the credits to do so.
Bungie’s robust file sharing service is back in full force. The Theater saves your recent games in a temporary folder so that it is easier than ever to view your recent games, clip them, and upload them onto the server. If you want to show your friends that 28 kill spree you got or if you and your friends want to showcase the fun of shooting grenades out of your enemy’s hand, you can do it on Bungie’s File Share. The Forge feature has also received a massive overhaul. You can now invite your friends into Forge and play games inside of the Forge mechanic, or if you have mean friends, they can simply try their best to annoy you while you painstakingly set weapon and vehicle spawns. Most of the maps in the game are available to edit in Forge and if none of those suit your needs you can turn to the game’s largest map, Forge World. This massive map allows you to set boundaries and make thousands of custom maps from the massive space that this map provides. The World mechanic allows for mountainous sniper maps, flat assault maps, or something in between. Anything that you can dream up can easily be made a reality in Forge.
Halo Reach is a near perfect prequel to the Halo trilogy and is simultaneously a perfect finale to Bungie’s affiliation with the Halo series. The game has everything that Halo fans love: Spartans, Covenant, and grunts with exploding confetti heads. Longtime fans are rewarded with a very engrossing story with perfected multiplayer, an engrossing campaign, and if they are very lucky, a glimpse of the one and only Master Chief.