Support Rowan, click to buy via us...
Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Family Gamer (360)
Perpetual Gamer (360)
Scared Gamer (360)
Tech Gamer (360)
Dressup Gamer (360)
Reporting Gamer (360)
Soundtrack Gamer (OST)
Halo Reach stirs in new abilities, improved visuals and AI into its steaming pot. But in the end the best thing is that this still tastes like Halo.
Halo Reach is quite something, I hardly know when to start. Although my friends seem to have talked about nothing else for the last few weeks, there is so much to it that it's a little overwhelming to talk about.
Halo, as my friends will readily tell you, is a love it or hate it kind of game. There are diehard fans and haters who will quickly jump to conclusions about what sort of game Halo Reach is and what sort of gamers play it.
But I think this generalisation really misses the point. Halo has always been a game about engaging a realistic AI and bar setting multiplayer, but Reach takes this to the next level. And you can't really appreciate what makes it so special from a simple list of features.
It's the feel of actually playing Halo Reach that makes it stand out from the crowd. Although hard to pin down, for me this is how it creates a thousand little moments of game play - those knife-edge encounters with each enemy - and wraps them up into a story I want to experience.
This time round there are also plenty of new gadgets and modes. The best of these has to be the special armour. In place of the equipment from previous games, you can now choose one time limited ability. Armour grants invulnerability. A Jetpack endows you with flight. The Hologram projects a fake 'you' to lure out enemies. And Invisibility and Speed round out the choices.
It's just what Halo needed, and better still it seems to have evened things out a little amongst my friends.
You see, this gives you different abilities and turns Reach into a game that feels more tactical and strategic, particularly in multiplayer where you need a balanced team of load-outs to win.
It's just what Halo needed, and better still it seems to have evened things out a little amongst my friends. Each of us have chosen a different favourite ability and this seems to let us play the game differently. I enjoy the stealth option so usually go for invisibility or speed, whereas my mates seem to choose between the baffling hologram ability and quick escape option of the Jetpack.
The whole package really feels like Bungie have piled everything they have got into this game - for one last hurrah before they leave the franchise on Microsoft's doorstep. It makes me wonder what they will do with it next, in Bungie's absence. I suspect this will be the high tide mark for some time though.
Alongside the strong single player there is, of course, the multiplayer. This time is comes packed with the return of the popular Firefight mode. Forge is back as well and offers even more ways to customise maps or make your own from scratch.
Throughout the game though, it's the enemies that stand out for me. They are simply so believable. Encounter a Brute for the first time and you'll find yourself quite distracted by their inane banter. Stumble across a back of Elites and the shock of encountering such bulky lumbering enemies is enough to send you running.
It's kind of ironic, but it all makes the alien foes much more human.
The enemies work together intelligently to overcome any tactics you may have yourself. You can actually hear them talking to each other as they decide how best to eliminate the intruder - you!"
There are also some pretty funny moments at times. Not only the classic lines they come out with but the panic that can set in as they realise that they are outnumbered - or are facing an enemy with greater firepower. It's kind of ironic, but it all makes the alien foes much more human. Certainly more believable as people than any of the Call of Duty or Medal of Honour enemies I've encountered in my time.
At the end of the day there will be plenty of people who think Halo Reach is not for them. I would say give it a try. And if you are a Halo fan, then this is a game that you really can't afford to miss.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: