‘Reach’ has an enjoyable gameplay and storyline, but as a package, does it manage to do justice to the legendary franchise? It’s hard to really understand the appeal of Halo. Its success as a pop culture phenomenon may have to do with the rather vacuous quality of its game world — a low-involvement shooter for an attention deficit age. It wasn’t for a lack of trying either, as developer Bungie has put in the time and energy to flesh out the fiction in a variety of different media.
First impressions are positive. The menus are high on usability, the cutscenes are well directed and utilise a lot of handheld and documentary-esque camera work. The mood is more sombre and introspective than any Halo title thus far.
This is also the first game in the series that lets you bring a custom Spartan into campaign mode. Your well-rounded squad mates, who make up Noble Team, are a bit less generic. The writing is tighter than previous games in the series. The art design has gone from goofy to realistic thanks to the use of muted colour tones and richer, detailed textures.
Never a dull moment
The four-player online co-op-ready campaign plays well. There’s a new armour abilities system that allows you to equip buffs you pick up in the field and the ability to pilot a space fighter and a UNSC Falcon. Dual-wielding has been jettisoned, but it isn’t something you’ll miss. There are scripted assassinations you can perform, and the campaign on normal should last you 8-10 hours.
Include the extensive multiplayer suite with fully customisable match types, firefight mode, the enhanced Forge world builder, and challenging higher difficulties and campaign achievements, and you’ve got one of the best gaming packages in the market today.