OK so I am a little late to the party with this review, I like to wait until the price of an Xbox game comes down in price before shelling out for it.
I’ve been playing Halo Reach a lot over the Christmas period and I am really enjoying it. I was a huge fan of the original Halo, the story and simplicity (there were only 6 or 7 weapons) and nonstop action. Yes some of the levels were repetitive (I remember one level, where you had to get to the top of a building fighting The Flood, and each floor was essentially the same, meaning you did the same over and over level 5 or 6 times!) but others like the wide-open second level where you drove around the planet Halo were ground-braking for an FPS. Halo 2 was more of the same, now with dual-wielding and some more weapons, and multiplayer. What I didn’t like was playing as someone other than the Masterchief , I lost interest during these parts. Halo 3 was for me, more Halo 2 with prettier graphics and better online play. The story didn’t really grab my attention, possibly due to the parts I’d blanked out while playing Halo 2 and me not knowing what on earth was going on except there were enemies to shoot. ODST was a return to form for me, a totally new set of characters in a rich, dark, film-noir (Blade Runner-esque) atmosphere and good backstory that compelled me to keep playing.
Halo Reach takes the good parts of ODST’s story and gameplay, but adds some new features such as jetpacks and the sprint ability. What makes a big difference between it and say, Halo 3 is the story seems to grab my attention and gives me a reason so shoot all those
Covenant. The levels are also very varied and don’t get boring. The multiplayer is rock-solid too, unlike Halo 3, I don’t seem to end up getting shot from out of nowhere every 10 seconds – it seems more well balanced.
Not all is good however. Only 2 months after its release, Bungie are expecting loyal fans to pay more for some extra maps in order to enjoy the full online experience. I am all for additional content that can be purchased, but it seems that these days games developers hold back content specifically and then sell you it a few months later. I wouldn’t mind if we were 1 or 2 years down the line but to release it so soon just makes me think that nowadays when you buy a game, you actually get 90% of it and can expect to pay another ~£7 in points to get the full experience in 2 or 3 months time. I have also seen the new maps being bundled with the game in shops for the same price as the original, further penalising the loyal fans who go out and buy this stuff when it comes out.
The game is great, and will provide hours of fun. There is plenty of replay value, not just with the online play, but also the solo campaign which can be played on multiple difficulties and with friends. I am slightly annoyed about the additional maps being released so soon (they should have come with the game), but I wouldn’t that spoil what is the best Halo game to date and one of the best shooters of the 360.