Nine years on from its release and Halo: Reach is still the game that keeps on giving. Despite being a prequel to the ubiquitous Halo franchise, I’m ready to make the case that Reach is a contender for the best Halo instalment thus far.
Ahead of a return to the franchise in Halo Infinite, expected to release in 2020, I decided to take a retrospective look at what I deem to be the greatest game of Microsoft’s flagship series.
Perhaps the most striking of its major selling points is the personal spin you can place on your character, right from the beginning of the campaign to the hundredth hour spent in multiplayer. Designing the character yourself – making and giving it a personal touch – not only gives a greater sense of immersion, but also of an emotional connection to the story.
Reach also sports a more gritty and realistic story than that of previous Halo games, giving a feeling of shock and horror. This is swiftly followed by the desperation experienced in a fight for your life, culminating in an incredibly poignant end to a campaign which was limited only by the intrinsic nature of it being a prequel.
“This increase to mobility and durability was counterbalanced with a lower initial player health bar, making the game more challenging”
The gameplay features of Reach also allow the game to stand out among other counterparts in the franchise, introducing abilities such as sprinting and a bubble shield. This increase to mobility and durability was counterbalanced with a lower initial player health bar, making the game more challenging and forcing players to consider the environment they were entering.
Despite these changes, Reach still manages to make itself feel like a classic Halo game with recognisable environments, weapons, and of course, spartan armour.
The multiplayer takes development of the game a step further with additional game modes and maps, all based off the campaign. With an intensely exciting feel to playing it alongside an accessible gameplay structure, the game is very much playable for all skill levels.
Additionally, the survival modes are not too dissimilar to the Call of Duty: Zombies franchise that provides players with a tough challenge: players must survive and make their way through hordes of enemies rushing after them.
“incredible visuals and sound design create an atmosphere vital to the game, and its impressive control re-jig made the game easier to jump into despite the new features introduced.”
No game is perfect, but I can easily say that Reach isn’t far off. Its incredible visuals and sound design create an atmosphere vital to the game, and its impressive control re-jig made the game easier to jump into despite the new features introduced. It did however have some downfalls, mainly in the fact that the characters and story, while fun and immersive, did lack the complexity seen in previous games.
Of course, this isn’t enough to overshadow the qualities of the game, for which it received huge plaudits across the board from critics.
The most important trait that an old game must have is to be reliably replayable – Reach, without a doubt, passes this test. The campaign remains just as enthralling on the fiftieth playthrough as it does on the first, and the multiplayer maintains its freshness through the endless firefights. Each new match can bring new challenges every time, so why bother with a new Halo instalment when you could just come back to this classic?
Last modified: 9th March 2020