Having gone through the original Halo trilogy, we've gotten to enjoy a huge amount of Bungie's output and I'm pleased to say they knocked it out of the park. I wasn't a big fan of Halo: ODST, though, so I came with somewhat mixed feelings toward Reach. The Master Chief and Cortana are such an integral part of the saga I didn't know if it was impossible to really care about someone else in the primary character role(s).
Reach had another strike against it in that it was a prequel to the main story, taking place on the planet where Earth suffered its greatest defeat during the war. Barring massive retconning, there was nothing our new protagonist could do in order to avert the catastrophe coming to humanity. The fact you'd have a customizable character also bothered me as while the Master Chief didn't have much in the way of characterization, he did have some and losing that would be a real shame.
|Noble Team is a great bunch of characters.|
So, was it good?
|Kat is my favorite of Noble Team.|
The other characters on Noble Team are underdeveloped but colorful enough at least some of them are memorable. They're about as memorable as your average Call of Duty protagonist with Emile being a stand-in for Modern Warfare's Ghost. I think they could have easily doubled the amount of time being spent on showing their personalities and interactions without even scratching the surface of who they are. My favorite of the six was probably Kat, who is the brains of the group and pulls numerous crazy plans from her ass throughout.
|The graphics are absolutely gorgeous, even by Microsoft standards.|
|The game is full of great map designs.|
|Combat is fun and vigorous.|
It's not a spoiler to say not all of them make it through the gave and not all of them die heroically either. I like this, as David Weber explained, " Military fiction in which only bad people -- the ones the readers want to die -- die and the heroes don't suffer agonizing personal losses isn't military fiction: it's military pornography."
One element I really enjoyed wad finally moving Doctor Halsey, creator of the Spartan program, from the Expanded Universe to the mainstream games. I've always been fond of her character and see her show up here was really appreciated. Sadly, the character's paperback journal which comes with the special edition of the game hasn't been made available separately yet.
|Doctor Halsey finally makes her first appearance in-game.|
Gameplay, things are still pretty similar to the mainstream Halo games with the biggest change being the special-armor abilities. You're capable of generating shields, rocket-packs, locking yourself down, and other items which I didn't actually use all that much. The biggest change is the addition of a starfighter you use in a memorable segment blasting Covenant ships in orbit around Reach. Starfighter combat isn't something I've experienced before in a Halo game and it's actually quite entertaining.
|The starfighter section was an unexpected but welcome bonus.|
In conclusion, Halo: Reach is a good-good game but could have been better. I think they could have expanded the characters and their personal interaction and made what could have been an immensely personal game. Instead, it's just really-really good and entertaining throughout. It's a pretty game but not a moving game. Nevertheless, I'd recommend this to any fans of the Halo series as Bungie's last entry into the franchise.