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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Halo Reach

Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studio
Platform: Xbox 360

Campaign: Overall pretty good; somewhat disappointed that there wasn't any super huge standout moments like Halo 3 had, but the game consistently is dropping you into great situations, but just none really stand out to me over the rest after going through it twice. The framerate and motion blur stuff is definitely an issue, and is largely inexcusable. I'm sure there's tech reasons (at least for the framerate), but it's really noticeable at parts, especially since I don't recall that ever being a problem in previous games. Game is gorgeous graphically though.

Going through it twice now I don't understand why some weapons are even in the game (ex. Spiker, Plasma Rifle, etc). Also the pro pipe is nowhere near as useful in either Campaign or Multiplayer as it was in the Beta, seems almost useless now.

The only particularly weak portion of the Campaign is that I don't feel that Bungie still gets how to do characterization in their games. They've built an amazing universe and back fiction, but most times when I'm watching in a cutscene in any Halo game I'm groaning (to war, monument to all your sins, etc). Reach is much better than Halo 3 in that regard, but I still feel that they didn't do a particularly great job of building up these characters or conveying what was going on. Maybe I had misconceptions here, but pre-release they seemed to be putting a lot of emphasis into being a part of this team and whatnot, but for the most part they didn't seem to build any of them up very well. Except for maybe 1 or 2 of them I wound up completely not caring about them, they were just NPCs I was rolling with on occasion. I also touch on this a bit in the spoilery section below.

Music is excellent (as always).

Plot stuff (end game spoilers): Pretty annoyed at how the events of the game completely disregard or contradict the books, which they've touted as canon for years. Also I mentioned this above, but due in part to the lack of connection with the characters, and part in due to characters/dialogue in cutscenes still being awkward, I didn't really give a shit when most characters died. Jorge's was alright (if a little heavy handed), but I outright LAUGHED at Kat's. They were obviously going for the shock value, but it was completely ridiculous. I've also done that part 3 times now, twice with other people, and we still don't understand what happens there. It looks like she gets shot with a Needle Rifle or something similar, but then when they're pulling her back, they're shooting at a SHIP, which is hilarious in of itself. I may be missing something there though. Jun winds up being a completely throwaway character (even moreso than the rest of the cast), and I would probably care more about Emile's death if they had done anything to make me care about him, or had not gone about making him MR. BADASS in an absurd over the top way (and failed at that). Honestly the only character death that I thought was actually well done was Carter's.

Also this is personal taste, but I really dislike the end; I know it's probably not meant this way, but it feels like a total MW/MW2 ripoff. On the one hand it's cool, but on the other hand it feels like I've seen that exact ending with a slight variant at least a couple of other times. I said this pre-launch, but I still think the best way to have ended the game would be to have Noble 6 either sitting down as it fades out (Glassed), or have it end with him fighting and then either end out (but not in the abrupt fashion it actually does in-game) and the go white (Glassed).

Firefight: Awesome, and the number of options are great. I am proud to say post-release I stand by Gruntocalypse being the greatest thing ever. I do wish that you could do it with 4 people in Matchmaking though.

Multi: Getting increasingly sick of Matchmaking; people I play with keep getting completely lagged/dropped out of games where they've never had any problems with any other games (including Halo 3). Aside from that though, really sick of the current playlist setup, at least for BTB and Invasion. Incredibly disappointed to learn that there apparently won't be any updates for at least 2 weeks, I honestly don't think I have it in me to continue playing it like I am now until they make some fixes. I don't like Snipers, and when I'm playing BTB/Invasion the group is large enough where there's usually several people who are only casual Halo players, and they never like and/or get dominated on these gametypes. Because of there not currently being any split, almost every lobby turns into a For/Against for the Sniper/SWAT gametype so usually half of the lobby is not happy, and honestly I have no idea why either of these would really be in BTB to begin with.

Also I wish Rally showed up in any other playlist but FFA as I haven't had the chance to play it yet; even if it was just in multi-team that'd be great. Also I thought Invasion was going to be in as a regular gametype but it's not on any of the current matchmaking lists; is that just going to be a weekend-type thing like it was in Halo 3? I remember some talk about Save Haven mode and all that and wanted to check it out :(

Also starting to realize that it doesn't seem like there's enough big maps in the game for BTB; Countdown for example comes up frequently and is a complete clusterfuck. If they're going to toss a map of that size in there, they could at least throw in some others of similar size to at least get some variety going if nothing else (like Pinnacle or Asylum). Also I agree with the sentiment that while the official Forge World maps are good (or at least interesting) to play, visually they're very very boring. Hopefully DLC maps come sooner rather than later.

Boneyard has spawns that are hilariously broken in any sort of Slayer gametype; for whatever reason they apparently decided to not use half of the map (where the Elites start in normal Invasion) at all. It will always spawn one side by where you take the core to on the cliff edge, and that team always gets completely clown shoe'd by spawn killing. I honestly don't think I've played a Slayer match on that map that has not been a complete domination by the team who doesn't spawn there. Generally speaking that entire Elite starting side of the map seems completely unused.

Hemorrhage is fine, but the gametypes that frequently come up on it are ridiculous (4v4 SWAT, really?), and in "standard" BTB matches on it it seems like it needs another power weapon. More often than not it seems like one team will get the upper hand with vehicles, then completely dominate the rest of the match. Unless I'm retarded the only anti-vehicle weapon on the map (aside other vehicles) is the Plasma Launcher in the middle; which seems a bit nerfed, and is basically impossible to get to if your team is getting dominated. Maybe either tweaking vehicle placements/respawns or getting rid of the Scorpions would also resolve it.

I like Asylum, Reflection, Boardwalk and Countdown, although Countdown is a completely clusterfuck in any type of BTB game. I've only played Swordbase once or twice in the retail release, also like it and the little graphical touches they've made are good. Haven't played any objective games on it though, can't recall if they said they were changing the flag issues people had in the Beta or not. Zealot is fine, but the top portion is completely broken as has been already mentioned; a team will take the lead, go up top, and camp the lifts. I haven't seen Pinnacle yet :( (have been doing mostly BTB/Invasion, only done 5-8 TS matches and it hasn't come up).

I'm actually not a huge fan of Spire; it seems to suffer from the same problem as Boneyard in that it seems to have good chunks of the map that are not used at all, and the map just doesn't seem to flow very well at all. It's interesting though. On the other hand any gametype on it where Falcons get going seems to be completely jacked, as if the Falcon pilot is at all decent is becomes extraordinarily difficult to take it out with the weapons on the map; definitely wish there was a laser on there.

Misc: I really love the Armory, as well as the Challenges. I like waking up in the mornings and seeing on bnet what the Challenges are for that day. As soon as I hit a day where I don't get all the challenges I'll probably stop being quite so OCD about it, but it is a good initiative to get people on and playing, and it seems to be working to that end with casual players I play with talking about doing some modes to get Challenges done. I also really like how you just have the universal rank across everything; you always feel like you're building towards something (like in say, CoD). I still think that the upgrades being visual only is a bit disappointing though; I don't know that I would want them to be tied to anything relevant in-game (like weapons), but I also don't find much point in pimping out your Spartan as far as multiplayer/Firefight goes since the only time you see yourself is when you're dead, and in combat no one's armor looks so dramatically different that it's really noteworthy, or even noticing at all. I'm still glad it's there, but it feels like they should have gone more in one direction or the other.

Overall I really love the game, and it has a huge amount of options and playstyles that you could play it forever. I do have some issues with the Campaign (framerate and characters/plot) but is overall put together very well. Multiplayer is great, but they really need to address some current issues ASAP, as well as get some more visually distinctive maps out ASAP (the Forge World maps are good, but visually very bland).


  1. After 2 and half runs with a good portion of the legendary through I'm starting to think this is the best Halo at least single player portion so far. It's still very, very close so far. The gameplay is near the best of all worlds. A scarab would have been nice though.
    keep posting

  2. Fuck so much commotion about this game. really considering getting an xbox now. this game looks fuckin sick. keep em coming

  3. ive played it and i dont think its all that special.

  4. Damn, why don't I have a 360...
    This game seems like loads of fun, but I'll have to wait for the next paycheck to get me a console though.

  5. I'm learning so much about Halo from your blog!