For most franchises, the first game to be released is the most important one. For others, it is the second game that is critical in confirming that the franchise is truly worth anything. The 5th game in the Halo series, Halo: Reach, is vital to keeping the franchise in the legendary status that it has earned for the past decade. After Bungie made some less than ideal choices by creating Halo Wars and Halo:ODST, it is up to Reach to bring the series back to the glory days of its past.
ONE SHOT GOODNESS
Class Is In Session - By far, the biggest change in Halo: Reach is the addition of classes. Taking a page from other popular FPS games, you can now select different classes in certain multiplayer matches. In the campaign, you can pick up icons that will change your class. Each class has an ability that can be used for a certain amount of time and has to be recharged after its use. Scout class is able to sprint, defenders can make themselves invulnerable, although they will be unable to move during this time, spies can camouflage themselves in exchange for no longer being able to properly use the radar, duplicates can create a copy of themselves that will run to a selected spot on the map and disappear when its been shot at enough or after a period of time, and finally the jetpack classes gets a jetpack to fly around with. While some classes may be considered cheap or unfair by some, everyone has access to them so there shouldn’t be any reason to bitch. In the end, if you don’t want to deal with classes in multiplayer, be sure to keep to the specific game types that don’t allow classes.
Level Up And Up - Previous Halo games had a system in which your player level would go up when you won, and down if you lost. It was a fair system, but would make for some really frustrating times if you had friends that would quit when they lost a level. In Reach, Bungie has implemented the now common experience system that awards you xp whether you win or lose.
My Kind Of Campaign - The Halo series has always been known for its epic campaigns, and Halo: Reach is no slouch in that aspect. Presentation and storyline are of the highest caliber putting it right up there with the best in the series. Bungie learned from the mistakes of their previous game by avoiding some of the pitfalls that they’ve become known for, mainly having to go through the same level more than once. Every level of the game is exciting, serves a purpose, and tries to be a unique experience, which is hard to accomplish for a FPS these days. Couple that with the amazing soundtrack and graphics that the series has been known for, and you have an incredible campaign mode. Add 4 player co-op and it only gets better.
Get Your Six Shooter - THE PISTOL IS BACK! Being an avid player of the first Halo, the pistol was the weapon of choice, and it sucked to see it get nerfed in later games. In Reach, this quality sidearm is almost bought back to its original awesomeness, which brings a tear to this jaded gamer’s eye.
Forge What You Like - Forge makes a triumphant return in Halo: Reach, allowing players to let their creativity go wild. One particular map that I played on had a structure that looked like the Milennium Falcon and another that was in the shape of a Tie Fighter. With the ability to download maps and gametypes created by other players, you are given a great alternative to standard multiplayer options.
What’s It All For? - The first Modern Warfare started a trend of letting players level up to get more stuff making its fun gameplay incredibly addicting, and others have followed suit. Halo: Reach does let you level up and "buy" stuff with the credit you receive from each match, but none of it is worth a damn. Everything that you can buy is cosmetic, which gives you less of a reason to spend hours upon hours playing to get those extras. Maybe Bungie wanted to make sure that the game stayed balanced, but they also missed out on a chance to give players another reason to keep on playing.
Challenging Daily Challenges - Bungie implemented daily challenges as a way to keep every day of Halo: Reach online interesting. These challenges give extra xp for players that complete all of them, and include playing the various online modes. The problem is that on some of the days, the challenges force you to play some of the less than fun modes multiple times. Yes, you can refuse the challenge, but why not just leave out the crappy challenges altogether, Bungie?
Firefight - Reach’s survival mode has you fight off waves upon waves of Covenant forces. Normally, survival mode is a pulse-pounding battle where every bullet is the difference between surviving a second longer or losing. However, I simply don’t feel that sense of urgency when I’m playing Firefight. The ‘franticness’ is just not there, making it a mode that I didn’t wanted to play as much as the multiplayer.
Infection - OH.MY.GOD. Why is this even here?? Back in Halo 2, some players came up with a great idea of making a game nicknamed Zombie. One player would be the "zombie" equipped with a sword but no shields while the other characters would run and hide from the zombie. Everytime a player was killed by the zombie, they would have to switch over and become a zombie. Now that was a precursor to the whole Survival mode bit, and it was a lot of fun. This mode, however, is far from being any fun. It follows the same rules with a couple of people being infected and the other group fighting them off, but the maps they use are just too open and too big for this kind of mode. There’s no claustrophobic feeling in even the smallest maps, and the way the scores are tallied make me want to give myself a headshot.
So, the big question for everyone is not "Does Halo: Reach get the series back to its former glory" (because it does) but rather, "Is Halo: Reach the best in the series?" For me, the answer is an obvious YES. Bungie took everything that worked before, added new gameplay mechanics borrowed from today’s popular games, and made a great game. It’s great to see a company that’s willing to take a chance here and there. It’s also great to see a developer realize that other game makers have great ideas and to incorporate them into their own game. Halo:Reach still has its flaws, but it’s a great recovery from Halo ODST, which turned off many fans. The awesomeness of Reach shows that the fever pitch enthusiasm for Halo is well deserved, so grab your controllers, put on your headsets and get ready for a last blast of Bungie brilliance!