Ten years ago a game called Halo came out on the Xbox, a game until that time wasn't even known on a console. Hyped for years as a PC game, it wasn’t until Microsoft bought Bungie and used the game as a flagship title for the Xbox that the phenomena truly began. The series has come a long way since and accomplished more than I think anybody ever thought it would. Bungie has a big Spartan helmet to fill with Halo Reach, so will their final swan song for the Halo franchise capture and encompass it all to bid a fond farewell?
Halo Reach is the story of Noble squad, a group of six Spartan soldiers on the planet Reach. Reach is an icon of human civilization and the humans know that if Reach falls to the Covenant, Earth is next on the list. You assume the role of Noble 6, a nameless Spartan who joins the squad after the death of the previous six. Each squad member has their own personality - Carter, the leader, is a by the books kind of guy. Kat, the tech, walks a thin line between insubordination and a do anything at all costs kind of attitude. Jorge is the big brute guy with the huge muscles who’s just a big softy underneath. Jun is your smooth as nails get behind enemy lines guy. Finally Emile is there to provide cover and stir the pot. Each character’s unique personality comes through in many of the game’s cut scenes as well as via in the in game radio - something that’s quite different from hearing your advice from an AI like Cortana.
When you fire up the game for the first time you’ll be greeted with a screen to create and customize your Noble 6 character. Bungie’s new experience and credit system allows players to customize numerous aspects of their character which are visible in every aspect of the game including the campaign, co-op and versus modes. You can tweak your appearance from your helmet to your knee pads and everything in between as well as purchase special unlockables like Sgt. Johnson’s voice for Firefight and special effects for your armor.
The first thing you’re going to notice when you get into the campaign in Reach is just how pretty the game is. Bungie went back to the drawing board with the engine and the results are spectacular - particularly during the sweeping landscape and space shots. The background, while looking like a painting, is alive with the battle of Reach. You’ll constantly see ships dog fighting in the skies and the distant battle of troops on the horizon with explosions and gunfire. Reach truly is a beautiful game.