Going Beyond the Call : Halo Reach

As a gamer, I always wish to try new and interesting things, and as a writer, I wish for you to experience many different types of columns.

The experiment:  Play/buy a video game that I know NOTHING about and have zero prior experience with.  Write about my experience and how I would rate the game/story/series!  Profit?

This week’s experiment took me once again into deep space, and the popular first person shooter franchise Halo.  After the jump, join me as I experience my first Halo game, how I really feel about it, and whether or not it’s worth the hype.

First Impressions

Like I’ve stated above, I’ve never really played a Halo game before.  I decided to pick this one up and give it a whirl because of all the fuss that TSG and every other online community was having over it.  Half the people I talked to said it was a masterpiece that would cause DaVinchi to fall upon his knees in wonder.  The other half claimed it to be nothing but utter trash that wasn’t worth the 8 dollar rental.

So as I popped in the disc and started the in-game cut scene, a lot of what I’d heard about Halo seemed to ring true at first.  Generic space marines in faceless/emotionless armor, witty banter at a high school level and holding down a button at something until it was dead.  Needless to say I was bored out of my skull, and pining for my Pokemon Black and White [you’ll get a full review of that this coming Wednesday!].

Yet…  About an hour in, my first impressions of the game and the franchise as a whole quickly changed in Halo’s favor.

Story/Plot

Because I’m a massive sucker for a good story, after I beat the game, I googled the rest of the plot for the Halo series and tried to see where the game fit in the story plot.  I was actually rather impressed at how well the game set the stage for the rest of the series.  Similarly to Kingdom Hearts : Birthy By Sleep, but not to such a massive plot hole filling extent.

Anyway, I digress.

The story is hard to first jump into if you’re not familiar with the series.  I wasn’t fond of the overly militaristic atmosphere of the game, and I felt a sense of Modern Warfare 2 Deja-Vu.   The characters were un-relatable and dry.  I specifically remember one soldier early in the game meeting his mother and them not having more than a line or two of unemotional dialog between them before she shooed him and his platoon back into the battlefield, without so much as a “I love you, please don’t die”.

However, this quickly changed for me.

While the characters retained their dry dialog and emotionless voice acting 80% of the game, I did manage to actually become somewhat close to the morons as we went through our entire “suicide mission after suicide mission” adventure together.  I was actually able to tell them apart after at least 3 hours of gameplay!

As for the plot of the game…  Eh..  Space Marines saving their last militaristic HQ in space, trying to hold off against the alien invaders.  I think we’ve been there done that many times before.  HOWEVER.  The last part of the game [especially the last few missions and the mission after the credits], the story did quite a U-Turn for me.  Especially in the eyes of the character you played during the entire game, but the other characters also make their own unique parts up for tearjerking.  It was noble, it was somewhat unexpected, and it makes you realize exactly what the life of these soldiers truly are.  Sacrifice for the betterment of mankind.  It makes you really want to salute both these armed forces and our own armed forces.

Score:  B+

Gameplay

I won’t spend too long here.  Chances are that you’ve at least SEEN Halo gameplay at some point in your life.  Point at things you want dead, hold down the trigger and try to move at a good angle to avoid getting shot at or mauled.

It’s smooth, it works great and even completely uncoordinated, drunk and wearing a blindfold on a unicycle can probably handle the gameplay rather well.  That’s one thing about the Halo franchise that I can respect.  They know how to use a controller and not bother with motion control nonsense, and keep it nice and smooth through and entire 2 generations of gaming.

However, there is one thing that I will want to chuck my Xbox360 out of a window for in anger.  That’s the driving section.  These things drive TERRIBLE.  In missions where I was forced to drive [instead of letting the computers drive for me, and why on earth would you ever NOT let the gamers choose to drive the car Bungie?  AAAAAAH], I usually either hoofed on my two feet or drove off a cliff into the rocky abyss.  Not ALL vehicles were bad.  Just about 80% of them.  /shakes finger at Bungie

The only other complaint I have is the lack of clear direction at times.  While some missions are nice and give you an arrow of where you need to go, other missions give very vauge directions and hope you know where they are talking about.  I spent nearly 45 minutes on a mission, trying to figure out where I was and how I was supposed to get to the next area.  The NPC’s were no help either, they just followed me around like an idiot, without so much as saying “turn left at the next alien corpse”.

But still, considering those two are minor complaints, and the whole of the gameplay is sound, fun and accessabile to all realm of gamers, I really can’t complain too much.

Score:  A-

Graphics

Go to YouTube and find a somewhat decent person that knows how to rip HD footage correctly.  You’ll see that Halo Reach is GORGEOUS.  The cut scenes, the in-game battles/talking and the overall presentation is awesome.

People that say it’s not as great as it would be on the PS3 are provably wrong.  There is little to no difference between my PS3 games and the Xbox360 games.  Sure, if you zoom in at 300x, I’m sure that the lines on a Xbox360 are probably more blurry than those of a PS3, but do we really care?  I’ve had my PS3 for a good 2 years now, and my Xbox360 for about a week now.  I’m a much more hard-core Sony fan, yet I can recognize where the differences are so small that it really doesn’t even matter in the long run.

Score:  A+

Online Play

Ewww..  I don’t want to.  Don’t make me.  Please don’t make me!

Dawww.  Fine.  >:/

/goes to cousin “L’s” house and plays online, mooching off his Xbox Live

The people that play this online are 70% 12 year old morons that need to be shot to the sun, but the actual gameplay is nice.  On good connections, you’ll probably have a fun time shooting down people left and right and watching the body count on the floor keep going up.  That being said, you better be “above average” on the campaign before trekking online.

I have the FPS coordination of a rabid monkey on drugs, so I’m pretty sure my overall score was less than -500, and I eventually just wanted to paint a bulls-eye on my armor and stand in a field.

So it’s a TAD intimidating for newcomers, but Veterans will have a ball with it.

Score:  A-

Replay Value

I rented this game.  Unless you are a veteran Halo fan, I suggest you do the same.

The game was fun for me.  I enjoyed the story, the presentation and the overall atmosphere of the game.  That being said, I’m treating it like I would any other game that offers no post-game material other than online play.  Returning it to the store without renting it again.

I wouldn’t buy this game.  It’s a fun skirmish for about 3 evenings, but in the end, you’re paying for a game that’s all about the multiplayer and not so much about the campaign.  Yes, the campaign is nice.  You read my remarks above!  I liked it!  That being said, you know the Bungie and Microsoft are banking on the online play as the main selling point.

That’s really not my thing.  But if you like online play and think the high price value is worth it, then by all means, I’d highly reccomend you get it.  It’ll have a high replay value for you!

For people like me that don’t like online play?  Eh.  Not so much.

Grade:  N/A

Final Thoughts

I’ll admit it.  FPS games like Halo just aren’t my thing.  They’re not a genre I enjoy playing repeatedly.  I like RPG’s and tactical games.  So I came into this game thinking that I wouldn’t like it, and probably have a pretty negative review.

I was wrong.  Halo Reach was a fantastic game with just a few minor bugs and a few plot/character issues that I couldn’t personally get around.  The online community is somewhat immature, but that’s the truth about ALL online communities to an extent.  That being said, I enjoyed the adventure a great deal.  The last few missions especially brought it all home for me, and I was genuinely SAD to see the game ending.

I didn’t feel like it was a game that warranted a purchase, because I finished the game and the story has been told for me.  There’s really no reason to hear it again.

That being said, if you like Online Multiplayers like Modern Warfare 2, the previous Halo games or others, then this might definitely be worth your time and effort.

Overall Score:  A-

Writer’s Reccomendation:  Yes/No, based on if you like online meta-game.

8 thoughts on “Going Beyond the Call : Halo Reach”

  1. “I specifically remember one soldier early in the game meeting his mother and them not having more than a line or two of unemotional dialog between them before she shooed him and his platoon back into the battlefield, without so much as a “I love you, please don’t die”.”

    Halsey wasn’t actually Jorge’s mother, it just turns out that “ma’am” sounds like “mum” in the voice actor’s accent. A few of the Bungie guys mentioned this in the Legendary Edition video, saying they didn’t notice this until it was too late. I mean, she did raise him in a way, but even the closed captioning says ma’am. Not blaming you for thinking that, I thought he did too, especially seeing as Halsey was a mother figure in most of the Spartan-II’s lives (not the Spartan-III’s though, as is visible in her exchanges with Carter and Kat).

    I’m glad you enjoyed the game, even if you just rented it. It’s always nice to see someone who isn’t interested in the genre at least try it out. If only others could take off the fanboy goggles for a few hours, stop saying a game they’ve never played is bad, and actually try it.

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