Thursday, 16 September 2010

Halo: Reach - Initial Impressions

I found myself buying Halo: Reach on Tuesday. Thanks in part to a £20 HMV voucher (+ 800 MS points free) and a desire to see what all the fuss was about.

I've never really been a fan of Halo. I did get about half way through the first game on PC and played a tiny amount of Halo 3, but the series, especially the multiplayer, never really grabbed me like KZ2 or the Modern Warfare games did.

So, for £19.99 I thought it was worth a punt and so far I have been pleasantly surprised. Here's what I think so far

Main Campaign
Currently on mission 3 playing through on Heroic difficulty. The campaign is pretty decent so far - some nice open environments punctuated with action 'bottle necks'. I'd heard that the AI was meant to be good, and whilst this is true of some of the more powerful enemies (the guys with the laser swords are complete bitches) your squad AI isn't quite as impressive.

One of them did manage to drive a jeep without crashing into too much scenery while I manned the cannon, but they are prone to glitching into the environments or standing in some random spot whilst you try to take down 7 waves of enemies on your own.

The main feature I've yet to try out in campaign is co-op. Up to four players can take control of Noble Squad (with scaling difficulty apparently) and blast through the game.

Controls are fairly standard, though I do miss the option of aiming down the sights and cooking grenades. Some guns let you zoom in (like the default magnum pistol), but others don't - clicking on the zoom button brings up a 'binoculars' view.

There are a few issues - some of the cutscenes suffer from slowdown and whilst the particle effects are nice, some of the environments can look bland. Everything has been running smoothly in gameplay moments though.

As I've not played through any full Halo campaign before, my knowledge of what's been done in previous games is fairly limited. Whilst it isn't groundbreaking, it has been a polished, enjoyable romp so far. What I've really taken a punt on this for is...

So far I've been really impressed with the multiplayer. I'd wager that Bungie actually spent a lot more time on this than the singleplayer campaign.

If you're a fan of customisation and options then this is probably the most well developed console FPS you'll play. I'm nowhere near getting my head around it all, but there seems to be a game type for everyone.

I’ve been online with some of the guys from the Edge forum, and so far I've played straight-up team deathmatch (called Slayer in Halo), a 'first to XX kills' team game (SWOT), Capture the Flag (on a custom made map), a Counter Strike-style bomb planting game (always a great mode) and Invasion, which I’d describe as similar to Battlefield BC2, whereby you must capture/defend certain points of the map, steal an item from the enemies base, blow a certain structure up etc…and the map expands as you take more objectives.

The controls feel less ‘floaty’ than I remember form Halo 3, so you have a bit more heft to your movement. Not KZ2 levels, but enough to give you adequate feedback and help you navigate round the levels. Speaking of which, I can’t really comment on the levels yet as I’ve not played them enough, but Cage is really fun and suits smaller Slayer matches.

I should also quickly mention Forgeworld, which is basically a level editor/creator (hoping to get my hands dirty with this soon) & Firefight. FF is a mode I’d never played before, as it was included with ODST. It is great fun though – trying to battle through hordes of enemies in a survival type game. Pairing this mode with jetpacks and infinite rockets had me chuckling – I hope the jetpacks in KZ3 are this much fun.

There’s also Halo Waypoint, which manages to outdo even the great community features of KZ2. As well as tracking your/your friends stats you can unlock avatar/ingame goodies, upload and share videos and screenshots, watch replays of recent matches etc…it’s really well thought out.

That’s not even scratching the surface really, but as you can see, Bungie have basically taken all the best modes from the past 15 years of FPSs and given you the option to play them as you see fit.

I’m really excited about getting more involved in the multiplayer (probably at the expense of playing through the singleplayer) and having a go at creating a map in Forgeworld – I’ve set my sights on a ‘racing mode’ and recreating Bowser’s Castle from Mario Kart or a track from F-Zero!!

In summary I’d say don’t listen to the hype of fanboi nonsense. If you are curious about Reach (like I was) and you can find it at a suitable price, give it a go. You'll find me online taking on that most important of roles for my team - Bullet Sponge!!



  1. nice words pabloamigo - about all a non XB owner like me can take I guess. The MP vid feels a lot like good old Quake III Arena. Does look nice and detailed and fluid though.

    In related news, I've rarely spent any time on an XB, but had an extended session recently. PS3 controllers are WAY better aren't they!? Or is it just my lack of familiarity...

  2. I do still prefer the PS controller, but it might just be muscle memory more than anything else.

    Games with QTEs are a bugger. I instinctively know which button is where on a PS pad, but have to look down each time on the 360.

  3. As much as I don't like the xbox this sounds like a game checking out! Will have to pay my xbot bro-in-law a visit as he has this no doubt!

  4. a few people i know got this and they've been doing the co-op multiplayer thing and having a blast by the sounds of it. mind you it is the XB series to have so i woud be surprised if it was pants.

    they also reported that one of them has the 4Gig Slim and can't join the rest of them in games.

    well, my brother is getting married today, better scrub my balls and pull my good jeans on :)

  5. If you know someone who has it it's definitely worth gate-crashing their house and having a go to see what you think.

    I like the fact that if you want to take it uber-serious and be really competitive you can, but if you're like me and you want to barrel roll a tank, jump out and use your jetpack to fly away whilst watching that pesky sniper get crushed under tons of steel, you can do that too.