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Review: Halo: Reach

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the arc-of-the-covenant dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 191

The launch of Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001 vaulted Bungie to the top of the game development industry and helped provide a stable foundation for the success of the original Xbox. Nine years later, having completed a trilogy and a standalone expansion for the Halo universe, Bungie has returned to the IP one last time for a prequel called Halo: Reach. They clearly wanted to do right by the fans and the franchise with their final sendoff, and the effort they put into the game reflects that. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.

  • Title: Halo: Reach
  • Developer: Bungie
  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • System: Xbox 360
  • Reviewer: Soulskill
  • Score: 8/10

The game gets its title from a planet named Reach, which is under siege by the Covenant a few weeks prior to the events in the first Halo game. Your character takes the role of new member to a team of soldiers who are trying, without much hope, to keep the planet from falling into enemy hands. If you play many shooters, it will be a familiar scenario, and Bungie doesn't spend much time crafting a detailed backstory or exploring character motivation. In that way the narrative shares the perspective of the characters — they're here to fight, and so are you.

This demeanor is maintained throughout the campaign, and it provides an odd contrast to other games in the genre. Most recent games try to set you or another character up as a tragic hero, using side-plots, sub-stories, and untimely deaths to provoke an emotional reaction. Halo: Reach handles this in a more detached, military way. When a character dies, the others acknowledge it with a moment of grief, but then move on, because they have a job to do. While I found it to be an interesting mind-set, I also never particularly cared about any of the characters, and never really got engaged in the story.

But, this is Halo; gameplay is paramount. The game engine was retooled and updated for Halo: Reach, and it shows. The feel of movement and combat is the best I've experienced on the Xbox 360. It's smooth and responsive, and it handles jumping, turning and aiming very well. As someone who typically prefers to play shooters on the PC, I was pleasantly surprised. The maps are consistently excellent as well. They maintain the Halo feel of being set on enormous backdrops, filling as much of the sky as they can manage with distant mountains, towering ships and structures, planets and moons. The layout of the fighting areas manages to avoid being constrictive while keeping you moving along the path necessary for the plot. Areas in which you fight typically have several different available routes, so that the direction you feel comfortable traveling while attacking or defending will take you where you need to go without having to double back. It's one of those subtle things about level design that's very often ignored, but does wonders for immersion when it isn't.

The AI isn't particularly good or particularly bad (unless your teammate is driving you around), and you'll quickly come to recognize enemy behavior patterns. The campaign combat gets a bit repetitive because of this, but Bungie planned ahead and created ways to spice it up. In addition to four standard difficulty levels, you can turn on "Skulls," a set of minor gameplay modifications that add challenge to the campaign. For example, one makes enemies toss more grenades, and faster. Another requires you to melee enemies to recharge your shields, and one makes enemies more lucky with events based on a random roll. You can also play the campaign cooperatively with other people, which is great if you have a couple of friends also playing the game. If you're the type to play a shooter's campaign once before retiring it to the shelf, this game probably isn't for you. But Bungie built in a lot of replayability. If you enjoy going through it multiple times, challenging yourself to do it the hard way, and playing through with buddies, there's a lot of potential entertainment to be had.

The available weaponry is a mixed bag. Modern shooters tend to have "superweapons" become available only infrequently, and with restrictions; limited ammo, slow movement speed, etc. In Halo: Reach they are perhaps too restricted, often with long wind-up times and a slow recharge. I found myself switching away or simply dropping those guns because they weren't much fun to use. By contrast, I found the pistol-type weapons to be the most satisfying to use, perhaps because they didn't inconveniently need a reload just as I brought down an enemy's shield. One thing Bungie definitely did right was the visual depiction of the projectiles shot out of the guns (bullets, plasma bolts, grenades, etc.). The bolts coming at you all have distinct colors and graphical effects that go along with distinct velocities and trajectories. Dodging enemy fire adds a lot of depth to the gameplay, and it's very easy to see what's being shot at you without having to focus on it.

Throughout the game you can ride in a variety of vehicles, and even perform multiple roles within the vehicles themselves. This suits co-op play very well, and solo play somewhat less. The guns on a tank or Warthog are big and satisfying to use. Driving takes some getting used to, using one analog stick for the throttle and the other for steering. If you're used to a game that uses one stick for both, it will feel awkward. There are a set of helicopter missions that fare better — once you're at an altitude you like, you can press a button to hold there, leaving you only 2-D movement to worry about while you aim, which isn't so different from ground fighting.

There are also a set of space missions, where you grab a fighter and fly around, trying to out-Star-Wars Covenant spacecraft. I was skeptical of their ability to pull this off, but the missions are a lot of fun. It's not tremendously complex; you've got lasers, which can knock down shields, and rockets to finish things off. The targeting system is generous, and you can evade enemy fire with rolls and flips. But the engine is just as smooth and responsive as it is for other forms of combat. It reminded me of playing old arcade space shooters. These missions are followed by the boarding of a ship that's had its atmosphere vented to space. As you trudge through hangars and corridors, shooting wildly at the waves of Covenant trying to block your progress, the familiar sound of gunfire is conspicuously absent, while your controller shakes softly in your hands. Its a nice touch.

If you played Halo 3 or ODST, you're probably familiar with Forge. It's the built-in map editor (or at least, map customizer) that lets you tweak items, vehicles, and objects while leaving the geography unchanged. You can't remove a cliff or make a hole in the ground, but you can move, add, and delete weapons, spawn points, buildings, ramps, giant rocks, Warthogs, and more. It's very simple to use; it'll be nice for groups who play on a regular basis to be able to easily change things about their typical maps, and there will certainly be a dedicated few (in fact, there already are) who create some really impressive levels in spite of the limitations. Spacious, mostly empty "Forge World" maps provide a relatively blank canvas for building something new or remaking something old. At the time of writing, one of the most popular maps has you jump your four-wheeler pointlessly but entertainingly through the air, and another is a pseudo-platformer.

The multiplayer experience is integral to the Halo games, and this one is no exception. There are about 40 different ways you can play this game with other people. We've come a long way from the days of "Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and CTF" being the multiplayer standard. You get about a dozen game archetypes to choose from, and each of those may have several different variations. For example, there are four kinds of CTF, a couple different racing modes, three "bomb your opponent's base" modes, and even two different ways to play King of the Hill. It would be really tough not to find a few gameplay modes you enjoy from this huge list, and the name on the box guarantees there will be enough players to keep finding matches. Halo: Reach also brings back Firefight, Bungie's version of the industry standard "get-swarmed-until-you-die" game. Even here there are seven different versions, including one in which you attack or defend particular objects, and another that gives you a rocket launcher and unlimited ammo.

Of course, with all these options, the matchmaking system needs to be up to the task of putting players in games they want to play. Like Halo 3, the system uses "playlists." You select from several groups of game types, and once enough players are found for a match, they vote on which particular map and mode they want to play. While this has the benefit of finding games very quickly, the downside is that if you really want to play a particular map or mode, you may get voted down and stuck with something else. A simple browser would have been great, if not particularly elegant. In addition to the skill-based matching, you can also tweak a few options that narrow down whom you want to play against: chatty vs. quiet, competitive vs. casual, prioritizing skill, or a good connection, and so on. It remains to be seen how many players will use this as intended, but it's a step in the right direction toward filtering out some of the players who rub you the wrong way.

Bungie has built a huge fan base over the past nine years. For many, Halo: Reach will be the last true Halo game, now that Microsoft is taking over development of the series. Knowing this, Bungie really went all out to make this a game that gave players everything they could ask for. It stumbled a bit in the storytelling and the weapon design, but the heart of the game is in the multiplayer, and there they provided such a wealth of game modes, preferences, customizations and settings that even the most hardcore players will have difficulty running out of new ways to play. It'll certainly be a tough act to follow for whoever Microsoft puts in charge of the next Halo game, and Bungie knows it.

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The more important question (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33599790)

When is this arriving for the ps3?

Re:The more important question (0, Troll)

david_bandel (909002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599798)

Why would you want different games to run on multiple consoles? What did you pay for when you bought your PS3, dumbass?

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33599838)

Blueray?

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33599880)

it's a joke, dumbass

Re:The more important question (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599830)

It's going to be day-and-date with the release of Uncharted 2 on the 360.

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33599902)

I would hope so. It will be a combo back so I guess it'd have to be.

Re:The more important question (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599938)

If we get wipEoutHD on the 360 in exchange, then I'm quite absurdly happy.

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600210)

Oh well, at least we have Hydro Thunder: Hurricane.

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600200)

The most important question: Why are you kiddies going out and buying the same game for the fifth time? More like Halo: Reach for another game.

Re:The more important question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600310)

Probably the same day they port Duke Nukem Forever to the PS3.

Re:The more important question (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600842)

Probably the same day they port Duke Nukem Forever to the PS3.

Somehow DNF jokes aren't that funny anymore.... It makes me a little sad inside.

Re:The more important question (1)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600892)

Probably the same day they port Duke Nukem Forever to the PS3.

Somehow DNF jokes aren't that funny anymore.... It makes me a little sad inside.

Isn't this supposed to be happening anyway?

Re:The more important question (1)

jorgander (1647371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601304)

or PC. My first gen Xbox, Gamecube, and Wii haven't been used in a long time, and with the possible exception of the Gamecube (because Metroid is just that good) I regret buying them.

Don't give me that crap about developing for the PC being hard. We all know that MS/Sony/Nintendo pay game developers to make games only for their system, else there wouldn't be a reason to buy it. If they didn't have exclusivity, they wouldn't have anything.

I recall when I saw Halo 2 for PC on the shelf and was elated to finally play it. I didn't care that I had it months after the Xbox owners. But then I saw that the requirements included Vista - they may as well not have released it for the PC at all.

Advice (4, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599818)

Read the books. Seriously. The Halo series is decent and fun, and certainly has its moments...but it's hardly deserving of the legendary status people have applied to it. The books, however...the books are amazing. The storyline makes for a great series of sci-fi novels, and are all page-turners.

The best Halo experience isn't on a TV screen, but in a book. Just a bit of advice.

Re:Advice (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33599912)

Yes, because squeakers totally want to sit down in front of a book and read about Halo, not pwn n00bs and insult the fuck out of people 20 years older than them when they make a kill.

Re:Advice (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600168)

Yes, because squeakers totally want to sit down in front of a book and read about Halo, not pwn n00bs and insult the fuck out of people 20 years older than them when they make a kill.

I take it you've had your ass handed to you by youngsters quite often.

P.S. Get off his lawn.

Obligatory (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600574)

Just like that [penny-arcade.com] .

Re:Advice (3, Informative)

iainl (136759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599958)

If you want to read an SF novel with an Orbital in it, you _really_ should be heading straight for Consider Phlebas...

Re:Advice (3, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599978)

Or Ringworld [amazon.com] .

The thing is, most of the Halo novels don't focus on the titualar "Halo" orbital.

Re:Advice (4, Interesting)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600024)

I always considered Halo to be a mash up of Ringworld, Aliens, Ender's Game, and Starship Troopers. As far as an homage to these sci-fi heavyweights goes, I think they did a pretty good job.

Re:Advice (3, Informative)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600224)

Bungie's people talked about some of their inspirations during the press around the release of the first Halo. As far as I remember Starship Troopers, Ender's Game, and Ringworld were big sources of inspiration (Ringworld for obvious reasons).

Re:Advice (1, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600958)

You forgot to add Sentai show. This applies both to the Covenant forces in single player, and the general livery seen in multiplayer.

Personally I think this is the secret sauce. Disparage it all you like, but Halo is one of the few major shooter titles to really flood the screen with a striking spectrum of colour. It's an under-appreciated design choice; Colour is visually interesting element and most modern games are disgracefully desaturated.

Re:Advice (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600186)

They shouldn't, either, because all three times a Halo has been visited.. guess when it was? While you were playing Master Chief in the Halo games. You were never on the structures for a long period of time (no more than a couple of days) and were the only Spartan alive, so I assume stories about being on Halo (unless from the Covenant side) wouldn't be very interesting (See the second book, Halo: The Flood.)

I'm happy with the time spent on the Halos being explored inside the games. There is so much else out there in the "Halo universe" that can be covered in writing, or even more games.

Re:Advice (2, Interesting)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600816)

And Consider Phlebas isn't really much more than a Tresure Island/Pirates of the Caribean IN SPACE!

It is just an excuse to introduce The Culture, the most interesting details are in the addendums. Remarkably, in that the titular Culture is introduced as the antagonists.

Re:Advice (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600908)

Sir, you are discounting Bank's remarkable writing ability.

Re:Advice (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600876)

YES! Iain M. Banks is great.

Re:Advice (5, Insightful)

snakegriffin (1597867) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600006)

It's not legendary because people have applied that status to it, it's legendary because of its success it's had in the market. I don't think anyone has ever claimed that the Halo games are a technical marvel, but as far as I'm concerned, Bungie's work with multiplayer and matchmaking is unparalleled on a console. The overall experience is fluid and the evolution from Halo CE to Reach has adapted very well to the rapidly-changing gaming world. IMHO, the best Halo experience is with all the media - games/books/graphic novels/movies. A couple of the novels are pretty pedestrian and are essentially recaps of Halo CE and Halo 2, but The Fall of Reach and some of the other supporting canon is great. I really hope someone can get fully behind a movie and that Nylund is the screenwriter, or at least the main consultant.

Re:Advice (2, Informative)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600756)

"Halo: The Fall of Reach" was a fantastic book, it would have stood perfectly well on it's own as a sci fi book without any games.
Similarly First Strike Was a great read.
Eric Nylund brought those two books to life.
Ghosts of Onyx was pretty good but not quite as memorable.

Halo: Contact Harvest while it didn't have quite the same flair and consistency of the above was a solid book and I enjoyed it.
For me Joseph Staten focuses a bit much on the feelings of the characters but it's still a good read.

The Flood is more of a walk-through of the Halo game.
I couldn't even finish it.
a book has to be pretty bad for me to put it down in disgust.
If I wanted a game walkthrough I'll go to gamefaqs.
It put me off ever again buying any book by William C. Dietz
Skip it and you lose nothing.

if they make a movie they better hire Nylund for the script.

To anyone who's not familiar with the books I have to say, the halo series of books actually stand pretty well on their own. (except "The flood")
They're not just crap shoveled out the door to cash in on a franchise like some game/movie book adaptions out there.

Re:Advice (1)

MintOreo (1849326) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601394)

I share all the same sentiments. Don't even bother with The Flood, and read Fall of Reach and First Strike if you're at all interested.

Re:Advice (1)

AdamThor (995520) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600944)

I don't think anyone has ever claimed that the Halo games are a technical marvel, but as far as I'm concerned, Bungie's work with multiplayer and matchmaking is unparalleled on a console.

The limitation of 4 player / console games supporting system link ensures that the Halo franchise will be the most popular of relatively few games available on XBOX.

Assuming that even HALO itself continues to support this mode...

Re:Advice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600080)

The Halo books are for children, not for adults. They're only page turners because the words are small, easily comprehended, and the plots are thin and spotty.

For a good SciFi novel, pass all the rest and pick up Robert A. Heinleins' Starship Troopers.

Re:Advice (2, Interesting)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600278)

For a good SciFi novel, pass all the rest and pick up Robert A. Heinleins' Starship Troopers.

So your suggestion is to skip every other sci-fi novel that is not itself a wildly successful classic and the book to which most other sci-fi combat stories are compared? Your bookshelf must be pretty bare.

The Halo books are for children, not for adults...For a good SciFi novel, pass all the rest and pick up Robert A. Heinleins' Starship Troopers.

...aaaaand in case you weren't aware, some of Heinlein's best work was his children's stories.

Re:Advice (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600326)

The Gap Cycle. You have to work through the first book and a half; it gets interesting in the second half of the second book, and then gets epic less than a hundred pages into the third book. It burns hot right to the end and then resolves cleanly and satisfyingly. I think there's a new story to follow (this one's complete), but Donaldson has no ideas for where to go and so has chosen not to write at this time. He has acknowledged to me (I queried him, because I can see the topic and the flow from here but no details) that the characters definitely do have a lot open to them; but he has no plans on this because he doesn't have a story to write.

Re:Advice (1)

AdamThor (995520) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600974)

Interesting. I thought the first book was the most interesting, with it's "the real story..." take on events. After that it became a fairly straightforward 6 Million Dollar Man antihero story.

Re:Advice (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600086)

I was surprised. I borrowed "The Fall of Reach" from a friend expecting it to be barely readable garbage. It was really well written, and happened to also tell a pretty cool story.

Re:Advice (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600132)

Back in bungies marathon days, the terminals kind of represent what you get in the halo books. However this game seems to go against what was written in Halo: Fall of reach (what other spartans?) and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, which features...

SPOILER

Spartan 3s launching a more or less suicide attack against a covernant world in which 2 spartan 3s survive. These spartan 3s were, again, recruited from kidnapped children with promising DNA, not elite soldiers (which were the spartan 1s).

Re:Advice (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600218)

Read the books. Seriously. The Halo series is decent and fun, and certainly has its moments...but it's hardly deserving of the legendary status people have applied to it. The books, however...the books are amazing. The storyline makes for a great series of sci-fi novels, and are all page-turners.

The best Halo experience isn't on a TV screen, but in a book. Just a bit of advice.

I will agree with this. The books are quite good, especially the ones by Nylund.

Halo Reach itself is in an interesting spot because a lot of prior details have been fleshed out by the later books (which explore earlier parts of the Halo universe), and it has to take place before Halo: The Fall of Reach (the first book, and the prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved (game), which is also in book form as Halo: The Flood).

I suppose the part I wish to have is Halo 2 and 3 done up in book form (the first three books cover the events just prior to Halo: CE (The Fall of Reach), Halo CE itself (The Flood) and the period between Halo: CE and Halo 2 (First strike).

Just FYI for anyone considering getting the books, Microsoft is re-releasing the first three and Evolutions with more backmatter and other content (but not altering the main story itself). The Fall of Reach was released last month (August 3rd), while The Flood is due to be released at the end of this month (Sept. 30 according to Amazon). October and November will see the re-release of Halo Evolutions as a split 2-volume set (volume 1 in october, volume 2 in november), while December sees the re-release of First Strike just before the holidays.

Greg Bear's books on the Forerunners is due to be released in January. So if you haven't got the books yet, you might want to wait for the new editions. No word on whether or not the 4th through 6th books in the series will be re-released though.

Re:Advice (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600254)

I did a little happy dance when I found out Greg Bear was handling the Forerunner stories. He's easily one of the best Sci-Fi writers out there today.

Re:Advice (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600290)

Halo is an FPS. It has a "story," meaning we tell you something for 5 minutes and say "GO KILLING. BY THE WAY, GRAPHICS!!!" The story explains why the pretty pictures involve glowing shit and space ships, that's all; most of the story is imaginary, and the game really has just about no plot (in the same way a Megaman game has just about no plot... try the whole Megaman X series, yeah the characters talk and there's a situation but it's so god damn thin... it's not a page-turner, it's a "get the fuck out of my way, Zero's Z-saber is awesome and I want to kill more shit").

The books for many, many sci-fi games like Doom/Doom3, Myst, Halo, and Starcraft are epic. They actually weave a story, and the story's usually written by someone not involved with the games: they find a scifi writer, say "this game has this little framework so have fun," and they run through the whole gambit of writing an interesting sci-fi story.

Interesting with the books is I don't think they can actually take on an epic-level quality like Age of Misrule, The Gap Cycle, or The Templar Chronicles (or story-heavy games like Xenosaga in particular). Yes you can write good books, good stories, etc; but in some cases the characters are alive, flat out. They have a story to be told, and the author sits down and conveys that. This isn't "I want to write a story, let me use literary strategy;" it's just this... feeling... that something is supposed to happen, so it happens in the book. That's why some stories are "Lord of the Rings all over again" and others are "Amazing, epic, and a refreshment in an endless sea of people trying to be Tolkien." Sure, a Lord-of-the-Rings-alike is interesting, maybe even well-written and a good read; but hey, nobody said they had to be bad.

At least they're not pushing crap, though, eh?

Re:Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600466)

thanks!

Re:Advice (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600746)

Sorta, but you have to admit that "Highly Advanced Ancient Human Civilization" is a) Totally cliché at this point, b) In dire need of some serious explaining why there isn't any evidence on the fossil registry that any of this happened. Any story with this template is relegated to Sci-Fantasy genre.

Re:Advice (1)

saintofsaints (1896890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600982)

The vast majority of people disagree with you.

Re:Advice (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601236)

I second that, I read all the book and they add a lot to the series, especially those written by Eric Nylund which includes the Fall of Reach (my favorite). "The Flood" is the weakest one as it mimics the game step by step, written by William C. Dietz, at times it can even be boring because of the writing style. Anyway, any fan of the game Halo would appreciate the books because they expand on the Halo universe and John's (master chief) past and how it all came to be.

Gotta Say (1)

zombieChan51 (1862028) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599886)

The game does look beautiful. Almost makes me want to get an Xbox to play this.Is there any chance of this coming out for PC.

Re:Gotta Say (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599964)

Doesn't exactly seem likely to happen, given there's no sign of a PC release for Halo 3 or ODST yet.

Re:Gotta Say (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600128)

Doesn't exactly seem likely to happen, given there's no sign of a PC release for Halo 3 or ODST yet.

Highly unlikely there will be a PC release. First of all, Microsoft has the rights to the Halo universe (they acquired them when they bought Bungie, and when they spun off Bungie, they kept Halo). Secondly, Bungie and Activision have an exclusive 10 year partnership [activision.com] . Thus, it's highly unlikely that Bungie can license Halo but not have it published by Microsoft Game Studios.

Third, well, I think Halo 2 on PC didn't do terribly well, mostly because it required Vista. So with potential returns like that, it's not likely that Halo 3, ODST or Reach will ever make it to PC.

It isn't the last Halo game ever - after all, Microsoft owns the rights to Halo and you can be sure they're going to capitalize on it, but this will probably be the last Halo game from Bungie for a long while.

Re:Gotta Say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600676)

And when the kids grow up, to make it out there in the real world, there will be Halo: Office, where you can use the controller for the xbox to type up a letter.

Re:Gotta Say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600790)

All of those things were true before Halo 1 or Halo 2 reached the PC. It may very well make it, it will just be years after the original release, making it a completely worthless game.

sooner or later... (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600164)

derp? [emulator-zone.com]

the Xbox is a just another Von Neumann machine, right?

Re:Gotta Say (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600036)

If they did, you would need a live account. I think that would stop 90-99% of the people that post here from playing it.

Re:Gotta Say (3, Interesting)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600112)

/rant

As an enthusiastic fan of multiplayer gaming, let me be the second to say that Windows Live is perhaps the stupidest, most awkward, piece of crap to have ever been designed for gaming. It is inane, it removes functionality, it insists on running in the background while providing no added value, and it screws up everything. Until microsoft realizes what a useless, stupid, infuriating platform this is, they are essentially shooting their pc games in the feet, knees, stomach, and at least a few other vital organs. Please fix this, as some games (Batman Arkham Asylum, Bioshock 2) are actually worth playing were it not for the idiocy that is Windows Live.

/rant

Re:Gotta Say (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600330)

How does it compare to Steam?

Then again, Steam offers things like in-game IMs, Steam cloud support for game settings (and with certain single-player games, saved games), etc...

And achievements. I have over 360 of them in Team Fortress 2 alone.

Re:Gotta Say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600884)

You only have 322. Must you always lie, Ross?

Re:Gotta Say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600078)

god I hope not, their pc ports are pathetic, locked in resolution, wonky controls, just bad

Re:Gotta Say (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600088)

The game does look beautiful. Almost makes me want to get an Xbox to play this.Is there any chance of this coming out for PC.

Not a chance.

Re:Gotta Say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33601172)

Not until 5 years from now when it's emulated.

Halo is About Multi-Player (2, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599910)

Like it or not, judging any title in the franchise around it's single-player "campaign" is like passing judgment on a car based upon the music system and seat comfort.

And, sorry, call me old school or just plain old, but whenever I read a review that disparages a videogame's "story" I chuckle. That said, there is a whole series of "Halo" books for people who confuse space marines with Hamlet, or just want their science fiction literature in BFG-sized bits.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600012)

The full benefits of multiplayer don't last forever on console games. Yeah, it might be fun for a few years but then either the servers get shut off or the matchmaking system doesn't work well and you are waiting 15 mins to get into a game.

Yeah, there always is system-link or physical multiplayer but most games now for multiplayer focus it online.

25 years from now, the single player mode will still be available along with local multiplayer but Xbox live will not. If you want a game you can enjoy 25 years from now, the single player mode is important.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (2, Interesting)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600318)

If you want a game you can enjoy 25 years from now, the single player mode is important.

Yes, but also if you want a game you can enjoy 25 years from now, you'd better buy 10 of whatever runs it and hope to hell that one of them lasts 25 years. Most video games released in 1985 years ago were arcade games. Sure, you could have bought "Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?" for DOS on an 80286 that year, but only on 5 1/4" floppy, and I'm not sure if you could successfully emulate DOS 3.1 on an 80286 using modern hardware very well. I don't know about you, but my last 80286 didn't make it to 1990. Neither did my TI 99/4A or my Apple IIe.

I have books that I've owned for more than 25 years and still enjoy. I don't even have the hardware to run the games I bought 25 years ago.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600630)

Um, I've got a ton of NES games from 25 years ago and they still run perfectly fine. I even have a working NES, it might be a bit temperamental at times, but it works. I also have one of the remake top-loading NES/Famicom systems and all my games play just fine there. Heck, I've got a working 2600 system and games from the 70s!

Yeah, cartridges are going to be more reliable than CDs/DVDs but DVDs/CDs are easier to rip. But I still have some CDs from the late 80s that still work just fine after 20 some odd years.

Due to the ease of making universal disk drives, the optical disk isn't going to go away anytime soon unless SSDs become cheap enough to put "buyable" software on and movies.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33601154)

Hate to burst your bubble but I still run games from the 80s on my modern PC. I fired up a few DOS games last night and had a blast. It's pretty trivial to emulate old systems on new hardware. Technology is a wonderful thing.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600862)

Maybe that's true. But when I put down $60 for a game, it's not for the enjoyment that I'll get 25 years from now.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601008)

But if you are going to pay $60 for a game, wouldn't you want to be able to pick up and play it, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years from now and it be just as fun as it was the day it was released? Quite honestly, I think that is the mark of a really great game, if you can't do that, its not that great. For example, Super Mario Bros. is a great example, its just as much fun today as it was when it was released. Final Fantasy VII is also another great game that stood the test of time, barring the load times, its a very fun game. Same thing with Yoshi's Island and Doom. If you have to see the game in rose tinted glasses with a qualifier with "for its time..." the game failed. Super Mario Bros wasn't a great platformer for its time, it was a great platformer. Final Fantasy VII wasn't a great RPG for its time, it is simply a great RPG. Etc.

If I'm going to buy a game for full price on launch day, it better be a classic or close to one. and not a tech-demo style game emphasizing graphics or temporary features over long-term fun. I'm not going to be impressed with HD graphics 20 years from now, I'm not going to be enjoying a multiplayer feature that no longer exists, however, if the game is fun, it will be just as great as when it came out.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600016)

whenever I read a review that disparages a videogame's "story" I chuckle

Sometimes, a story is integral to a video game [livingwithanerd.com] . Video games provide a medium that enables stories to be told in a way that would otherwise not be possible.

Other times, a story doesn't matter at all [livingwithanerd.com] . Some games are hugely successful with literally no story.

Dragon Age and Tetris will both suck up hours upon hours of your time, but for entirely different reasons. One keeps you coming back for the depth of its narrative, and the other keeps you coming back for sheer simplicity. Each type of game has its place in the culture, and both of them are equally important.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600156)

What about, say, Starcraft 2 - a compelling single player story, with totally unrelated excellent multiplayer game? The two are not mutually exclusive. It's just that all too frequently the way the devs go about writing it is either "Let's get this multiplayer thing down and then add some story" or "Let's take our single player stuff and make it online."

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600214)

Starcraft 2 is an excellent example of a compelling narrative combined with compelling gameplay...practically the epitome of an amalgamation of the two. However, Blizzard also spent lord knows how many years and how much money producing it...not many developers have the money or the talent to do both in the same game. Most have to choose one or the other and go with it.

Still, I agree...sometimes, a game can have both. Ikaruga is a great example of a game that has immensely fun gameplay, [wikipedia.org] with a deep yet wholly unnecessary storyline [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600194)

I did a spit-take when I read "depth of narrative."

Dragon Age? The videogame?

Dude, have you ever read any books? Graphic novels even? You shouldn't be allowed to say things like
"depth of narrative" when describing things like Dragon Age.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600308)

Why not? There are hundreds of little side stories, all of which make up the world of Dragon Age. There are many games like this, but Dragon Age truly succeeded in making a world feel as "real" and fleshed out as the Star Wars universe. "Depth of narrative" isn't a reference to the paper-thin main plot...it's a reference to the number of (and size of) different stories in the gameworld itself.

Much like Star Wars, there's enough history, backstory, and goings-on in Dragon Age to fuel dozens of books, games, and movies. You could have an entire series on Dwarven politics and history in the Dragon Age universe alone.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (4, Insightful)

ductonius (705942) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600076)

"Halo is About Multi-Player or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Car Analogy"

With that attitude the last thing I would call you is "oldschool" or "old". Videogames have always had to stand on something other than multiplayer and graphics, and anyone who was actually "old school" will run out of fingers and toes counting videogames that had mind blowing stories. Story can be done as competently in videogames as anywhere else, the designers just have to care.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600260)

I've played the Halo 3 campaign a couple times now and don't understand the narrative at all. The Princess Leah hologram quietly muttering unintelligible things, the "hungry belly" voice grumbling unintelligible things that shake the screen, the little flying robot that turns from good to bad over and over (as do the zombies at some point)... it needs subtitles at the very least.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600714)

Be thankful you didn't have to play the Halo 2 campaign. Only single-player game I never finished. It was brutal in its asinine gameplay and completely disjointed story (or lack of it, rather).

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600358)

Xenosaga.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (2, Insightful)

NoZart (961808) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600204)

I guess that depends on taste. I played through H2 and H3 Campaign and really liked the pacing and soundtrack and how it flows and climaxes like an action movie (especially H3 with the last "driving away from destruction" - level).
Then you go online to meet Killer marines with childs voices (that often have necrophilia for my dead mom) and pretty repetitive twitch shooting - which is not such a fine thing when playing with a joypad; Gears handled this part a lot better with its deliberately slow flow.

Coop Campaign was the sweet spot for me. Just 3 friends, and some ongoing gameplay with some flow instead of killing the same people over and over in a confined space for 10 minutes. So for me, reviewing the campaign was actually the best thing that could happen. Everyone else talks about "forges" and "playlists" and whatnot in their reviews anyways so i actually am quite happy to read such a review for a change.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600274)

judging any title in the franchise around it's single-player "campaign" is like passing judgment on a car based upon the music system and seat comfort.

Assuming the car gets from point A to point B, those are the next most important qualities of a car. I'll take a 15 year old buick with comfy seats and nice sound over a cramped, noisy sports car anytime.

Re:Halo is About Multi-Player (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600340)

Hahahaha. I haven't played more than 15 minutes of multiplayer in the past 5 years, and most of that was the Reach Beta. With all the griefers and racists, it's a waste of time.

Story is the most important thing... i.e. WHY am I trying to kill that blue alien, and why is he trying to kill me? Give me something to believe in and to engage my interest. Otherwise it's just a pointless series of reaction-time tests.

Heck, I still play the original HALO a LOT. The original has something I've not seen much of in ANY game... two sets of enemies that hate each other as much as they hate you. Some of the most fun is had mixing it up or watching them beat crap out of each other.

One last time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600058)

Oh please... this IP is way too valuable for Bungie/Microsoft to give up. There will be many, many more Halo games to come.

Re:One last time? (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600180)

No, Halo probably won't be done anymore by Bungie because its too restrictive. Essentially MS owns all the IP related to Halo meaning MS can do whatever they want to restrict Bungie. So if Bungie wants to make a Halo game for the Wii/PS3/DS/PSP/iPhone/etc. it all has to go through Microsoft which can reject it. Bungie as an independent company doesn't want those restrictions because they threaten its success by preventing it from expanding. So if Bungie develops a new series, its a lot better for them and MS will turn to another developer for Halo.

Re:One last time? (2, Interesting)

grayshirtninja (1242690) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600628)

It's interesting to note that Bungie has a job position open for a "Software Development Engineer in Test (PS3)". A hopeful sign of things to come.

Re:One last time? (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601196)

That's debatable since Bungie's Halo games pull in more cash in the course of a week than most game series see in their life-cycle (I think they said they're up to $200 million already). While Bungie may branch out and make some new games for other platforms, I wouldn't call it a stretch for them to come back and make another Halo game for the Xbox. Especially if 343 Studios doesn't do a particularly good job on the next one.

Re:One last time? (1)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600226)

This is the last one for Bungie. Microsoft, if I recall correctly, is already planning on working with a new developer to "continue" the Halo series. I expect quality to drop...

Bungie, on the other hand, is taking their reputation and starting something new without being tied to being a first-party developer (again, from what I can recall... I have no links to back that up right now).

Re:One last time? (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600228)

True. Halo: ODST even left a sort of cliffhanger at the end to make it seem like there will be an ODST2. However, the statement was not that this will be the last Halo game, but that "Bungie has returned to the IP one last time". This is clarified in the last paragraph of the review:

Bungie has built a huge fan base over the past nine years. For many, Halo: Reach will be the last true Halo game, now that Microsoft is taking over development of the series. Knowing this, Bungie really went all out to make this a game that gave players everything they could ask for.

Re:One last time? (1)

The Moof (859402) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601094)

Bungie has returned to the IP one last time

They've been returning to the IP one last time for a while now (Reach being the 3rd time by my count). I believe the orignal Halo was going to be stand-alone, but it did well enough to warrant a sequel. They decided instead of a sequel, they'd do a trilogy, and Halo 3 was going to be the last one (announced during Halo 2's development). Then ODST came out as a result of making an expansion pack to Halo 3 (which turned into its own stand alone game). And now we have Reach.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the games, but them quitting Halo is like Brett Favre retiring from football.

Bungie in 1996 (4, Interesting)

chebucto (992517) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600144)

Just for the heck of it, here is a video of the Bungie world headquarters from 1996, back when they were Mac developers, and before they moved to the dark side and joined Microsoft.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFbrfmqOtbE [youtube.com]

Re:Bungie in 1996 (1)

LanMan04 (790429) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600378)

Yep. Halo was supposed to be a Mac title.

Re:Bungie in 1996 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33601248)

Yep. Halo was supposed to be a Mac title.

It was also supposed to be a real-time strategy game. What's your point?

Splitters! (1)

TheMiddleRoad (1153113) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600672)

They're not members of the People's Halo Liberation Front. No, the Front for People's Halo Liberation. No, the Liberation of Halo People's Front. Never mind.

But seriously, I was so pissed when those SOB's went to the Dark Side. I remember watching them demonstrate Halo at MacWorld in '99. Then the knife in the back...

Damn you, Bob.

Re:Bungie in 1996 (3, Insightful)

msormune (808119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600700)

Yes, they were stupid as they could have made a lot more money from selling the game on Mac, as opposed to the PC and Xbox platforms. Stupid I tell you.

Too bad they can't put some effort towards testing (2, Informative)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600152)

Anyone who bought a new 4GB slim version is screwed when it comes to co-op and multiplayer. [livingwithanerd.com]

Having the flash drive does nothing.

How the hell do they release a title like this without some sort of testing, even when it was known way back in expansion pack Halo:ODST?

Re:Too bad they can't put some effort towards test (1)

Seakip18 (1106315) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600190)

Whoops. That should have been "co-op and firefight". Multiplayer works fine with/without a hard drive.

why a $130 250gb HDD why M$ lock out 3rd party HDD (0, Troll)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600196)

why a $130 for 250gb HDD. Why M$ do you lock out 3rd party HDDs? why ban for USING YOUR OWN HDD?

PC gaming all the way.

Re:why a $130 250gb HDD why M$ lock out 3rd party (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600474)

why a $130 for 250gb HDD. Why M$ do you lock out 3rd party HDDs? why ban for USING YOUR OWN HDD?

One word: Greed.

Which also explains why they charge fift... whoops, sixty dollars a year for a glorified IM and game matchmaking service. Yes, it adds Twitter, Facebook, and NetFlix support as well, but all of those are also free for the PC and every other system they're on.

Re:why a $130 250gb HDD why M$ lock out 3rd party (2, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601246)

I would like to add 'a glorified matchmaking service for games THAT THEY DONT EVEN HOST. I would be FAR more willing ot pony up the money for Live is MS was actually doing something other then connecting clients and passing off the bandwidth to one of them.

Re:why a $130 250gb HDD why M$ lock out 3rd party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600920)

Sony Playstation 3 takes 3rd party hard drives. And they don't charge for their online gaming network.

Those are big reasons why I've let my xbox 360 languish and bought a PS3 to replace it over time.

Orginial Title (1, Troll)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600374)

Halo: The Reach for more Money!

They will beat this horse to death, and then render it and send it to glue factory while trying to find any more value in it

Mouse and keyboard support? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600644)

All the latest consoles have USB ports and yet companies keep releasing games that only support the gamepad with those silly small analog sticks. Halo, being a first-person shooter, would be much better with keyboard+mouse support.

Re:Mouse and keyboard support? (1)

saintofsaints (1896890) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601074)

That's really not going to happen, it makes little sense at all for them to put money into that when you break it down. They make Halo for the PC, though it takes a while, they do. Also there is a way to rig your keyboard and mouse to the xbox I've heard, but its kinda gay to need a desk while playing video games...

This is a good review, thanks for it. (1)

Silvercloud (691706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600850)

n/t

Re:This is a good review, thanks for it. (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600926)

Just in case you give too much credence to the review - there is one factually incorrect item in it. The skull (or gameplay option) that Soulskill thinks turns on some random benefit is called Tough Luck, and just means that the AI will always dodge headshots and grenades when it sees them coming. Makes me think that Soulskill played little Halo, because this is a fairly obvious change.

Bungie Development (-1, Offtopic)

BMAPARTS (1901854) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601108)

Should be interesting to see who picks up where bungie leaves off as they no longer be developing the Halo series. http://bmaparts.com/ [bmaparts.com]

Sucks (-1, Redundant)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601250)

Seriously, the Halo series has been fucking boring since day one. The only reason it gets any attention is because of all the circle jerking PC gamers that moved in and tainted console gaming with their love for release now / patch later and utterly fucking boring western developer action based gaming.

Halo gamers are the Sarah Palins of console gaming.
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