Halo Reach Xbox One and PC Game Review

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Halo Reach has finally been added to the Master Chief Collection, and also makes its first debut on PC. Is the nearly 10-year-old shooter worth revisiting? Check out what Kidzworld thought of Halo Reach!


Warning: This game is rated M for blood and violence


Halo Reach was and is, an immensely special game in the history of Xbox. Bungie, the creators of Halo before 343 Industries took over the series, wanted to make one last splash with this game back in 2010 before moving on to create Destiny. Despite coming up on its 10th birthday, Reach is still an emotional and action-packed final chapter for Bungie’s beloved sci-fi shooter that has gotten a new life in the Master Chief Collection for the first time on PC. There are some issues in this updated version, but for new fans looking to experience Noble Team’s story and veterans alike, it is a great time to return to Planet Reach.

Reach is a tale of sacrifice.Reach is a tale of sacrifice.


Noble 6


Reach takes place directly before the first Halo, Combat Evolved. Humanity has been engaged in a decades-long war against the monumental Covenant, an Empire made up of numerous alien races that want nothing more than to see humanity extinguished from the galaxy. Rather than stepping into the green armor of the Master Chief, we play as the SPARTAN Noble 6. 6 is a fully customizable character, you can choose their gender and customize their armor with a wide array of options from helmets, chest pieces, shoulder armor, knee pads the whole nine yards. There is no doubt that Master Chief is one of the most recognizable shooter heroes of all time, but having Noble 6 be customizable makes the whole story hit home that much harder. You feel like their struggle is your own. Like Chief, 6 doesn’t speak much but when they do, they carry themselves with a stoic but ultimately vulnerable demeanor.


There are many times when hope seems all but lost, and you can hear the pain and struggle in 6’s voice and body language. But 6 carries on anyway, and that sense of heroism is what makes Halo‘s protagonists so universally appealing. As a bonus, the armor designs that look better than ever in the updated version shine. The overall look and feel of Reach is all its own, carrying on a lot of the designs from the classic trilogy while also creating a dirtier, more realistic style than we had seen before. After Halo 4 and 5‘s insistence on going the opposite direction, a more cartoony and clean art direction, returning to Reach‘s graphics made the whole thing an even bigger treat to look at this time. The visuals hold up marvelously, with only a few odd characters and textures standing out as outdated next to the much higher resolution ones.

Noble 6 is completely customizable.Noble 6 is completely customizable.


Noble Team


Also unlike the Chief, 6 isn’t alone. 6 is the newest member of Noble Team, a group of elite and highly trained SPARTAN-III soldiers tasked with defending Planet Reach from the Covenant threat. The only backstory you get for your character is that they were previously a pilot. You’re given the freedom to fill in the blanks with your imagination past that, making Noble 6 feel unique to each player. There’s Jorge, the hulking but kind heavy gunner, Jun the recon specialist and sniper, Emile the quiet and frightening close quarters expert with Kat and Carter who share the responsibility of team leader. Carter, the reserved and by the book SPARTAN is the official commander, but he often relies on Kat’s opinion to make important decisions. They each have their special talents, and they are instantly recognizable by both their armor and personality. Carter is the only one that feels kind of uninteresting, often there just to bark orders. Still, though, each member of the team gets a moment to shine during the story, and by the end, you feel a strong bond with them. Halo 5: Guardians put you in the commander’s shoes, but with 6 being new to the team, you’re given the orders instead of giving them out.

For the first time in a Halo game, you fight alongside a whole team of SPARTANS.For the first time in a Halo game, you fight alongside a whole team of SPARTANS.


Planet Reach


The campaign takes you across 12 levels, all with their own thrills and chills. Each area might be linear, but Bungie’s signature level design makes it feel like you’re existing in the larger world. Landscapes appear to stretch for miles, and roaring battles in the distance make the conflict feel vast and often daunting. From the dense city of New Alexandria, the night cloaked cliffs where you join Jun on a sniping mission or the atmospheric dogfights above the planet itself, Reach is one of the most visually unique titles in the Halo series. While the rest of the games rely on a very alien feel, where you delve into and take the fight to various alien structures from both the Covenant and Forerunners, Reach feels like you’re defending humanity’s backyard. And it practically is, if Reach falls, Earth is not far behind. It lacks the more triumphant moments of Chief’s adventures, instead choosing to illustrate how dire the situation with the Covenant truly is.


There are small victories along the way, but ultimately Noble’s mission is about saving as many lives as they can as their enemy looms closer to domination. The shift in tone is also present in the soundtrack, which is much less heavy metal and bombastic battle music and more drum-based while interweaving with the familiar Halo sound. The signature choir chants are there, just with a little less alien mystery suitable for the setting. Replaying it reminded me just how stellar the music in Reach is, not to mention the whole series. Composer Marty O’ Donnell can never be commended enough for his music, it gives Halo so much of its personality and soul. And Reach‘s soul is very much its own, while never straying too far from what makes Halo special.

Noble Team is strongest when together.Noble Team is strongest when together.


Tools of the Trade


Halo‘s gameplay has always been about intense, rock-paper-scissors based gunplay. The humans’ bullet based weapons are great at taking down armor, while the Covenant’s plasma melts shields in a flash. You can only carry two weapons at a time, so you’re constantly scanning the battlefield for new weapons and abilities to get the edge on your foes. Reach on higher difficulties is no joke, enemies like the Elite feel especially tough to take down. The higher-ranking troops with more armor put up a tough fight and can make solo play especially frustrating on Heroic and Legendary. Reach is the only Halo game to contain every single Covenant enemy type, so every firefight keeps you on your toes and the campaign never feels repetitive, outside of the instances where the difficulty spikes and you are forced to try over and over again to clear a difficult section. The Gravity Hammer wielding Brute Chieftans can be especially aggravating.


The arsenal of weapons is vast for both the Covenant and UNSC but at the cost of the famous three-round burst Battle Rifle being missing in favor of the highly precise DMR. The DMR is a great choice for long-range, but the satisfying burst of the Battle Rifle is unmatched. The Covenant Needle Rifle is a standout of the new weapons. It combines the accuracy of the DMR with the explosive shards of the Needler and helped me clear several hard fights with ease. The biggest issue with the weapons in this release is by far the audio issues with the weapons’ sound effects. 343 is working on a fix, but as of right now the originally punchy and loud weapons sound muffled and less impactful.

The assault rifle is a great close range weapon.The assault rifle is a great close range weapon.


Vehicles


The vehicles are a big part of what makes Halo, Halo. Reach‘s variety is large, with multiple Warthog jeep types, tanks, helicopters, speedy Ghosts, and more. The sections where all the elements of the sandbox are let loose in massive-scale battles is where Reach shines particularly brightly. It feels like the natural evolution of every Halo before it, but with even more variety and a larger scale in the moment. There is even one section where you pilot a UNSC space fighter and engage in a heated dogfight in space above Reach. This is about the only part that isn’t improved by mouse and keyboard controls on the PC version. It just doesn’t feel as natural to control, and as such makes the section that was a standout in the original release feel more like a chore than it was originally meant to on higher difficulties.

The vehicles are a highlight of Halo's sandbox.The vehicles are a highlight of Halo’s sandbox.


Armor Abilities


A big feature that sets Reach apart from the other Halo games is the expansion of armor abilities. Halo 3 introduced them, but they played a much smaller role there.


  • Sprint


    • Allows the user to run faster than normal, useful for getting out of heated situations fast.

  • Active Camo


    • Taken from the Elites, active camo makes you invisible as long as you move slowly.

  • J et Pack


    • Fly up to hard to reach places or cross huge gaps with a Jet Pack.

  • Armor Lock


    • The infamous Armor Lock overloads the user’s shields creates an invincible barrier around them for up to 5 seconds at a time. You can’t move, but if you have no other choice this can be the difference between life and death.

  • Evade


    • Available to Elites, Evade replaces Sprint for the playable aliens. Dash quickly to the side to avoid danger.

  • Drop Shield


    • The Drop Shield is useful if you need a quick shield recharge when the opposition won’t let up. Throw it down and safely catch your breath inside a shielded dome.

  • Hologram


    • The Hologram generates a hologram of your SPARTAN to distract or trick enemies giving you time to escape or plant a trap. Surprisingly useful, you would think other players wouldn’t fall for it but you would be surprised.


Players within the Halo community have argued whether or not these abilities are a good thing or not since the game originally released for how they change multiplayer, but in the campaign, I always thought they were a welcome extra option for your arsenal. Upon revisiting the game though, I couldn’t help but feel like the most useful ability by far is just Sprint. The mobility offered is helpful in just about every situation except for the level where you are forced to use a Jet Pack to progress.

The Jet Pack can get you out of danger quick, but also has the chance of making you an even more obvious target.The Jet Pack can get you out of danger quick, but also has the chance of making you an even more obvious target.


Multiplayer and Armor Customization


The multiplayer in Reach is still great fun, there is a game type for everyone from the more competitive side with SWAT and objective-based modes, to the large scale fun of Big Team Battle. With the higher accuracy given to players on PC and the fact that most modes start you off with the DMR by default, the matches feel even more like mini sniper duels than ever. There is a lot of long-distance shooting happening, but with the armor abilities and plenty of places for cover, there are plenty of opportunities to get out of danger.


Halo‘s multiplayer has always been about teamwork, and which team can dominate the map by taking control of the powerful weapons and vehicles that spawn around the map. Having everyone start with mostly the same equipment, and eventually bringing the intensity up as players capture landmarks and grab sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and shotguns remind you why Halo has been a fan favorite shooter for so long.


The biggest issue with the Master Chief Collection version of Reach is the armor unlock system. In the original game, players earned credits by playing the campaign, firefight, or multiplayer. No matter what you were playing, you were always making progress toward the armor you wanted. You would rank up, and as you rise through the promotions more and more pieces would become available for you to pick and choose. In the new release, it runs off a Season system like Fortnite and Destiny 2. You still rank up, but instead of getting credits you can spend on new pieces of armor, you progress through set tiers with their own specific unlocks. Want a certain helmet for example? You have to grind out whatever levels the game requires to unlock it. The good news is, it doesn’t take nearly as long to unlock every piece as it did in the original game, but this new system removes some of the freedom of choice that the original game had in spades.


Down the line, there will also be the fan-favorite Forge mode, where you and your friends can easily create and share your own maps, game types and fun. Forge adds so much value to the already huge amount of content that Reach offers right out of the gate but it just needs a bit more time for 343 Industries to get it ready. 

Multiplayer can keep you playing for hours.Multiplayer can keep you playing for hours.


Final Thoughts


Returning to Reach with this new, updated version was a delight. Seeing the campaign injected with new life thanks to the leap in technology offered by PCs and current-gen consoles was great and the multiplayer is as fun as ever. Had the armor unlock system remained the same, and the audio issues been fixed before launch, it would’ve been an effortless recommendation to sci-fi and shooter fans who haven’t already stepped into the boots of Noble 6.


Pros


  • Varied Gameplay and Missions

  • Impactful Story

  • Fun Multiplayer and Cooperative Play


Cons


  • Seasonal Armor Unlocks

  • Audio Bugs


Halo Reach Game Rating: 4

Halo Reach's Box ArtHalo Reach’s Box Art


Available now for Xbox One, PC, and on Xbox Game Pass


 


Share Your Thoughts


What do you think? Do you want to take the fight to the Covenant (or to your friends in multiplayer) in Halo Reach? Let us know below!


 


By: Noah Friscopp


 



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