- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Rich DeWester
t's been about nine years since "Halo" first hit store shelves – and quickly blew people's minds. Few things have skyrocketed into the fanboy levels of fame that are occupied by "Star Wars" and "Lord of the Rings," but "Halo" belongs to that elite group. Bungie Studios has accomplished this with fantastic graphics, deep combat, and a rich story; with "Halo: Reach," they finally bid farewell to the characters and lore that are loved by so many.
When "Halo: Reach" first begins, you will be asked to customize your Spartan, who then joins up with a group called Noble Team. Your nameless protagonist will be endearingly referred to as Noble Six throughout the campaign mode, which tells the story of your team's valiant defense (and the ultimate downfall) of Reach, and the moments leading up to "Halo: Combat Evolved." This is by far Bungie's best storytelling ever, which is easily evident from the opening, in which the game not-so-subtly lets you know things will not end well for you. Each of the campaign's 10 levels are strong and enjoyable, with no low points worth mentioning; this truly is an opus in a typically stagnant genre. You can still co-op through the game with up to three other buddies, which should help you get through legendary mode. Oddly enough, even if there are four of you, you all play as Noble Six. Go figure.
Campaign isn't the only thing that's been given significant upgrades – Forge is ridiculously better, too. Bungie went through and cleaned up the controls, making it much easier to create what you want. Most will just use this to make small tweaks here and there, but the fact that those small tweaks can be made in a matter of minutes as opposed to hours should bring even more would-be customizers to a somewhat neglected mode.
Firefight isn't exactly new, but thanks to countless modes (including Firefight Versus, where you and another group of human opponents take turns playing as Elites and Spartans as you face off against each other), it certainly makes it feel new, and adds a nice amount of spice into an already very enjoyable way to spend more hours than you'd like to admit to anyone. Hands down the best addition to this mode, however, is Matchmaker, which will give you a new reason to ignore loved ones.
While playing "Reach" in all its different modes, you should complete certain accommodations which add points to your character, increasing your rank and unlocking more gear to customize your Spartan. Beyond just changing the way they look, you can change your voice in firefight mode (yes, Master Chief is there), as well as adding an effect when you die. Something about shooting confetti after you get dropped helps calm you from throwing your controller again. Bungie is also issuing daily challenges where you can earn more in-game credits that increases replay value.
This is without a doubt the most complete "Halo" title ever produced. Even if you're not a fan of the series, "Halo: Reach" should change your mind. Bungie continuously outdoes itself, but this truly is a beautiful finale.