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Halo Reach 360 Review

12/09/2010 Family Family Gamer Review
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Halo Reach 360

Halo Reach




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Other GamePeople columnists have reviewed this from their perspective - huh?:
Perpetual Gamer (360)
Teen Gamer (360)
Scared Gamer (360)
Tech Gamer (360)
Dressup Gamer (360)
Reporting Gamer (360)
Soundtrack Gamer (OST)

Halo Reach dances round the perfect formula without stepping on too many toes. Halo remains Halo - which for me is a string of knife edge encounters with enemies that seem as alive as me. For family gamers short on time, Halo Reach's quality makes it all worthwhile.

I didn't realise how much fun Halo Reach was until after I had finished my first play session. Bouncing through the campaign from one 30 second encounter to the next didn't give me time to breath. It wasn't until I had run out of play time for the evening, and I reflected on the way I'd spent the last few hours, I could rehearse the classic Halo moments that Reach had thrown up.

Dancing around architecture to recharge my shields. Edging forwards as I determined who exactly I was facing. Heading into a firefight with the Gregorian tones giving way to Indie rock.

This is all to say that Reach is still Halo through and through. Special abilities, health and new weapons all bear the hand of their creator - and that has stayed steady since the first game launched the original Xbox.

That may sound a little derisory, to not have move beyond the Bungie's 2002 opus. But if you have spent time here already, you will know that this is exactly what Reach had to do. A last hurrah for all that is wonderfully Halo, for everything Bungie.

Reach is still Halo through and through.

The game still bulges in over delivery. An impressive campaign, where newcomers can learn to play and old hands reacquaint themselves. This can be played alone or with another player locally, and with up to four players online. Multiplayer returns, refreshed with new modes and improved matchmaking. The Forge game editor is more powerful than ever.

Reach innovates around Halo's strengths with impressive restraint and imagination. The simpler single wield system perpetuates from ODST, and takes a little getting used to on the first encounter. But it's the special abilities are the biggest departure. 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.

For all these bells and whistles though, it is still the nuanced intelligent enemies that steal the show. Although it's too frantic to really appreciate at the time, I came away from each session with a handful of classic Halo memories. Being out-foxed by an Elite's strategy, playing cat and mouse trying to trick a Brute or simply underestimating a Grunt's sticky grenade.

Although I know I'm not maximising the value I get from Reach, I'm so impressed by my small corner of it that I really don't mind.

Ironically, I think I would have been as happy with Reach if it had just been a new adventure for Halo 3 - and in some ways I guess it kind of is. My limited time, and inability to compete online, keeps me focused on the campaign. And the campaign is all about those moments of engagement that stick in my brain and make me buzz with excitement afterwards.

Halo Reach is of course much much more than this. I've only dipped my toe into the quality to be found in one small corner. But this extends throughout. Bungie have ensured they cater for people like me, as well as those who want the full meal deal.

For gamers with young families and limited time, it's quality like this that you look for. Although I know I'm not maximising the value I get from Reach, I'm so impressed by my small corner of it that I really don't mind.

Written by Andy Robertson

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Andy Robertson writes the Family Gamer column.

"Videogame reviews for the whole family, not just the kids. I dig out videogame experiences to intrigue and interest grownups and children. This is post-hardcore gaming where accessibility, emotion and storytelling are as important as realism, explosions and bravado."

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