The last Halo game to be made by Halo’s creators, Bungie. Now that’s not to say there won’t be anymore Halo games, Microsoft owns that franchise and will milk it for what it’s worth. They just don’t own Bungie anymore and those guys are ready for something new. They even say goodbye to the franchise and thank the fans in the credits. Do they go out with a bang? Hellz yes they do! Currently sitting with a well deserved 92 on metacritic, I’m gonna go with a solid 9/10. I’ll be talking about single player mode of course. I might go a little longer than usual with this one 😉
The Good – First off, I gotta mention some technical stuff here. The thing I noticed when I 1st booted it up, was how fast it loaded, in comparison to pt. 3 and ODST of course. Those games were painful to boot up if they weren’t in your cache or whatever those guys did. It’s just smooth how quick I’m able to get up and going when I turn it on. Second, that new graphics engine….man, it’s sweet. Halo 3 & ODST were some really good looking games, but IMO, there was something about them, maybe the way they meshed with everything else….just felt, I dunno, out of date. Especially when you look at the Gears games. Now I wouldn’t say Reach looks as good as a Gears, but it holds it’s own with it’s own style, and pushes the fact that we don’t need new gen consoles just yet. Even the cutscenes are all in game, done way better than in the past, all keeping a fluidity to the presentation. Detail is definitely improved, and colors have a more realistic tone to them. There are times when you’re on a cliff, you look over and there’s war going on in the distance, it really gives an epic feel to the situation.
With Halo, or any other game for that matter, you come for the presentation, then stay for the gameplay. Yeah son, it delivers big time. If you’re a long time Halo fan, then you’ll feel right at home. Bungie took the ‘if ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach for the most part, like usual. Though they did add some improvements. Riding the Warthog feels so much smoother than it did before. Since you don’t dual wield in this one, they put the reload button back on X, and they put melee on the RB, which feels just right. Grenade switching with the B button is a little weird though. Honestly, I don’t miss dual wielding, the lack of it worked fine in ODST and here as well. Sneaking up on foes and holding melee provides a damn satisfying stealth kill with a knife. And as with any new Halo game, some new weapons are thrown in for good measure. As m’man Jamie mentioned in his previous post, the weapons list is ridiculous, so I’ll just highlight a few that I really liked. The concussion rifle, the covenant’s answer to a grenade launcher, makes short work of anything in it’s path, it makes me feel safe when I have it. The plasma repeater, I’ve always loved the plasma gun, this is sort of bigger brother to it, unfortunately it became a bit ineffective towards the end for me, but I’ll get to that later. There’s a few more goodies there too. Throughout the campaign, I felt they mixed up the selection pretty well, so I was able to get a good feel to most of the weapons this time around. It kept the action fresh for me.
The power ups. What. an. improvement. Seriously, they introduced these in Halo 3, problem was, they were weird icons where I didn’t know what did what. I dunno if I’m alone on this one, but I pretty much didn’t use them cuz in the heat of battle, I don’t have time to figure out what the apple core looking thing does. Here, it’s all money. Huge color specific icons when you go to pick them up, that show a pic of what the soldier does. If it’s fast running, there’s a dude running, if it’s armor, there’s a dude crouching in a huddle position, if it’s a jetpack….well, you get the idea. Speaking of jetpacks, how can you not love those things. There’s an awesome strategy thrown in, in which the powers are for a limited time, but do recharge quickly. Which means you can’t just fly through the whole level, but it gets you to some spots easier than just running up there, or my favorite, in the heat of battle. I can’t tell you how many times a Brute would come rushing at me with his 1-hit kill hammer, I would boost away, shooting while looking down, screaming at the TV as he keeled over. It’s pretty awesome. No matter how you cut it or slice it, this is Halo 4 with a prequel story. This one definitely has my favorite gameplay and fighting out of all the Halo games. And it’s definitely the best Halo package well worth the 60 bux I’ll put down on it. Sorry, I really dug ODST, but it was an EXPANSION to Halo 3 that should’ve been cheaper, they lied and charged full price. But anyways, I can go on all day about how cool it was to do this, or do that, but the gushing has to come to end folks. Time to touch up on what I feel are some of the flaws.
The Bad – As with most games, I like to play on normal mode, for I feel this is how I think the developer wanted the player to experience their creation the first time through. A solid challenge is what makes a game fun to play to me….do you know what doesn’t make it fun? When that challenge becomes ball-punching abuse. Reach’s campaign is crazy awesome fun, then at the last couple levels, things get knocked a little out of balance as you’ll get to areas where you’re too overwhelmed with enemies. You’ll get to sections with Hunters where instead of a fun battle, they’re just a pain in the ass cuz you’ll die so much, yes I know they were always toughies, but you will unload MANY clips. Some of the elites come flying through with frickin almost invincible armor. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but when I have to reload more than twice, and their shields still aren’t down, it gets annoying. I know it’s supposed to be the last hurrah and all that good stuff, but there’s other ways of making a battle feel epic without just making enemies too strong.
There’s a space ship flying section…..which is actually pretty cool, but there are times there, restarting a checkpoint for a 6th time, just pissed me the hell off. I felt the game took maybe an hour or so to really get going, I mean, I’m all excited when I 1st fire it up…..then I sit there like, ok, it’s Halo….basically, some of the new stuff could’ve been introduced a little quicker. The story, ah yes…..titanic syndrome, since much has been made about the book Reach is based on, we know the planet goes down in the end. So no surprises there…..while the cutscenes look awesome, again, maybe I’m alone in this, but I can’t tell you what the hell just happened…they didn’t exactly engage me, it’s like, ok, get me to the next level. They shoulda brought some of that cool storytelling style from ODST over. Some of the new weapons aren’t really given a chance to flesh out their potential to gameplay…..how many times did we get to use the target locator? Halo’s own hammer of dawn, once I think?
The Ugly – There are some dark moments in this one….when you first come back to the planet after the covenant has ravished everything….buildings burning in the background, bodies all over the place, it’s a creepy site. Either that or I ran out of steam and didn’t know what to put in this section 😉
Channeling that awesome Nate Dogg album? Naw, double R here and what’s been on my mind. Like the top of the blog says, as a couple of old dudes(we in our 30s yo!), we’ve seen gaming go through some serious transformations. If you’ve heard us on the podcast(we hope you have), you’ll know I’m big into the audio, music, etc. of gaming. We’ve seen games go from the simple bleep-bloops, to the NES days which has music known as chip tunes today. Super Nintendo rolled around and brought “CD quality” sound as the box put it. Then once games were stored on disc, there was no limitation to the music quality of games. Sure, sound effects may not have been up to snuff all the time, voice acting too, but bigger and better chips were put in the consoles. So here we are today, where if you play a lot of games with your eyes closed, you’d think you were watching a big hollywood movie.
Back in the 16-bit days, once I got a feel for the game’s sound, I could just throw on a Wu-Tang Clan CD and zone out. Effectively killing 2 entertainment birds with one stone, but today’s a little different for me. Real world and all that good stuff, free time is precious, and we have to really balance our entertainment options, what I usually call my ‘eff off’ time. Because really, talk to some people, and god forbid if I’m not doing anything productive in my free time. You know the type, where it’s okay to sit and read a book for an hour, but if you sit and play a video game for that time, there’s something wrong with you. Okay, I’m veering off topic here, that’s another subject for another day. Anyways…
I may not consume nowhere near as much new music as I did when I was 15, but I do like to listen to podcasts. Looking at my weekly rotation, I got 9 of them on that plate….now that’s alot. I’ll get back to that in minute. With today’s games, audio cues and sound effects are pretty important to listen to. In Gears Of War, when the music starts to pump, you know shit’s on. Then you get the sound that tells you the area’s clear and you can breathe again. In shooters, surround sound is awesome, not just in quality, but adding to the gameplay. Hey, if there’s a dude behind you to the left, you’ll literally know it because of the surround sound. Sound has to invoke emotional response too sometimes, take horror games for example. The sound plays a big part in instilling fear into the player. And then there’s the actual music quality. Man, I appreciate some good musical scores I tell ya…the Halos, Bioshocks, and Silent Hills are few franchises that come to mind.
So what I’m basically saying is, that how I used to play aurally when I was 15, I can’t really do as much anymore. Obviously by choice, but I’d really hate to miss out on the awesome work that goes into videogame audio. But today’s gaming does give me a compromise, in the way of downloadable games. Check out my reviews and you’ll know I go through my fair share. What’s great is, with most of them, I can hear what they have to offer, but since they’re small experiences, you don’t have to monitor the sound the whole time. And I can throw on that Wu-Tang album…I can listen listen to one of those podcasts…I can hold a conversation with someone without missing an important cue. Videogame sound is great and I love it. I get that there’s cats out there who couldn’t care less. Hey, it’s all good, different strokes for different folks and all that good stuff. But to the peeps who have any kind of appreciation for videogame sound, how do you guys like to rock it?
I’m no stranger to really cool collector’s editions of games that I really like, yes, I have the Master Chief helmet from Halo 3(quit laughin at me Jamie), but it don’t fit :-\ Obviously I’m joking, it’s not meant to….we’ll see if my witch doctor has anything to say about that though…..Anyways, I’m not one to jump on any collector’s console bundles, most don’t look that special in my opinion, see-Modern Warfare 2 bundle, and who can afford em either. But this Halo: Reach set just looks downright sexy to me. While I wasn’t too big on the 360’s new look, there’s something about that sleek greyish look on this one that I can’t keep my eyes off. Especially the controllers…..I WANT ONE!! Check out Kotaku or your favorite game blog for more upcoming pics….now excuse me while I pull out my Halo fanboy card that I’ll wear proudly when Reach drops.
*Comes out September 14th at $399
Microsoft had their x10 show a little while back…their mini-E3 for all things Xbox360 if you will. With it came some cool trailers and announcements. Here’s a ‘ViDoc’ for Halo Reach….and it looks awesome, can’t wait till the fall when the game drops. Check the HD version of the video if you can, it’s worth it.
Comin straight from the official Bungie site, new screenshots for Halo Reach(durr Rich, that’s what the post title said!). With this, Mass Effect 2, and Alan Wake and such…the 360 is gearing up to have a stellar year for exclusives. In the meantime, click the link and drool cuz this game is lookin slick!
As I spoke of on our last podcast(or was it the one before?), I did some reading on that Game Informer issue that had some preview details. Hopefully I summarized it well enough for you kiddies. Also, enjoy some new screenshots from Kotaku.
So yeah, Halo Reach….is a prequel leading up to the series we’ve come to love. Instead of being the lone Master Chief, there’ll be a squad of Spartans this time around. It should be a new feel since you’ve got a crew of badasses and not just one. You got your rookie, the leader, a female spartan who’s second in command, the heavy weapons specialist, the stealthy cat, and of course the sniper. The planet the game takes place on, Reach, is said to feel lived in and detailed…so you really get a feel for when the downfall happens. The inevitable attack of the Covenant.
Reach is supposed to take on a darker tone overall, the Covenant won’t have the their humorous nature that we’re accustomed too…they’re gonna feel like a spooky threat. One of the new enemies, Skirmishers, are related to the jackals, but these guys are supposed to be very deadly, cunning ,attack in packs and will flank. The Elites finally make a comeback, while I like the recent Halos and Brutes being a fair main enemy, there’s something about fighting those Elites back in the day that really brought the hype.
The health system is gonna be like the first Halo, shield, a separate health bar, and having to find health packs. What would a new Halo be without a refresher in the weapons category, the Designated Marksman Rifle(DMR) is a cross between the sniper and battle rifles. Not only is it a headshot-o-matic at long range, it should hold it’s own at medium range. The sniper, assault rifle, and magnum pistol all make comebacks, modeled alot closer to their first game iterations. On the Covenant side of things there’s a new needle rifle, which is a mid-range headshot weapon, it acts like the needler but more flexible and accurate.Three continuous shots at a time can combine and explode, sounds like fun. The usual covenant weapons make their returns as well. One more thing, we’re back to the two original grenades, the frag and plasma if memory serves me right.
While battling should be as intense as we’re used to, or even more so, they’ll be a new stealth element….you ever sneak up behind a covenant and give him the ol melee? It’s incredibly satisfying, only that it alerts all his partners around usually…now you can sneak up, stab them from behind, all while no one notices. Armor abilities, another new addition, will give you a temporary perk when you decide to use it, everybody can hold only one at a time. What kind of perks you ask? High speed sprint for short periods, active camouflage which makes you predator invisible for a short time. There’s probably others, what’s cool about these is, once they run out, you just have to wait for them to recharge to use them again instead of ‘one time and done’ style of the past.
And lastly, the graphics engine….while ODST still looked damn good and all that, it was showing it’s age. This time not only will things look better in the Halo universe, but one of the big promises are that alot more things are gonna be happening onscreen, really driving home the epic gameplay and feel. Man I can’t wait 🙂
Coming 2yrs after the release of Halo 3 is this tight little expansion, Halo 3 ODST. If you’re a Halo fan, you know what to do, if not, this game won’t change your mind…..8/10.
The Good – More Halo, that’s really good to me, which means top notch console first person shooter action. The storyline is a fresh take on the usual formula, you get to see different takes from different character perspectives. It all takes place during Halo 2, basically experiencing a portion of what went down in New Mombasa. Tight, intense gunfights that keep you on your toes, are quite exhilarating. There’s a very cool semi-open world aspect that lets you approach enemies from different angles on some levels. Enemy AI is as smart as ever in a Halo game, no two battles are quite the same, even approaching a gunfight multiple times yields different, if even slight, experiences. Nighttime scenes have an air of creepiness. The graphics engine still looks good two years later. Audio is as good as it gets on the 360, high quality effects, well designed surround direction, and some pretty incredible music all add to another awesome Halo experience. The new Firefight mode is supposed to be pretty fun, along the lines of Gears of War 2’s horde mode, haven’t had the chance to try it myself, but I trust it’s a blast with friends. The multiplayer portion comes on it’s own disc with all the previous Halo 3 DLC maps with 3 new maps as well.
The Bad – The campaign is kinda short, it should’ve lasted at least another hour and a half since the main game is maybe 6-7hrs. While I’m happy to shell out for a new Halo game, there’s a reason why it’s called “Halo 3 ODST”, it’s just an expansion of Halo 3….not a new Halo game, probably should have been 40$ instead of 60$. Sure you got some expanded multiplayer, but it’s still Halo 3’s multiplayer, and I’m not an online multiplayer anymore, so that 2nd disc is gonna go to waste for me. You’re not Master Chief, and the characters you do play as are nowhere near as cool as he is, they’re pretty bland actually. While the overall graphics engine still looks great, you would think they’d update the face tech, the characters without their masks look pretty bad. I can be wrong, but I always remembered Halo autosaving, you have to “Save And Quit” to do this here, so if you turn off the box in mid game, you’re screwed.
The Ugly – When you go into the map/objectives screen, the game doesn’t pause, which means if you’re looking at the map, reading objectives or what have you, you can still get hit by enemies…..umm, hello? Pause?!?
So, more halo news. I’m sure our wonderkid is jumping up and down as he’s reading this information. No word on what exactly this is but hey. More Halo isen’t really a bad thing? Unless this is going the way of the Star Wars Franchise? Here’s the trailer for Halo Reach from the E3 Convention.
I’m in! 3rd person halo!? I love you Halo ODST! I DONT CARE WHAT ANYONE SAYS. LA LA LA LA LA LA LA. it looks saaaweeeeeet