Let me preface this by stating that I am NOT by any means a "Halo Fanboy". I thoroughly enjoyed Halo: Combat Evolved, because of what it was at the time. Great graphics, and a compelling story with fun multiplayer. Halo 2, and Halo 3 were more or less boring to me (and let's not even get into the joke that was ODST), so what do I think of Bungie's final send-off to the universe they created?
The controls are, at their core, the controls of any other Halo game (which is to say most FPS games), with some interesting tweaks. First the controls "feel" more fluid. Maybe it's just me having not played Halo in a good while, but everything feels so smooth. Not just the regular movement either, but the flight, and vehicle controls as well. The only problem long-time halo players will have is trying to remember to hit the button for your armor ability. Everything else however, is exactly how you remember it.
This is EASILY the best looking game on the 360. Everything still looks like Halo, but totally revamped and remastered. There is a "newness" to things that should feel old, just because of the graphical tweaks. Maps that were classic staples (Blood Gulch, Ivory Tower, etc), look so much better revamped in the new engine, and new maps still have the feel of Halo. All the cut scenes are done in-engine, where you can see your custom Spartan in them - so no pre-rendered stuff here.
The other thing you have to talk about when you speak of the graphics is the world of Reach itself. There has never been another world like it in the Halo universe. Granted, it doesn't appear as "alive" as I'm sure they wanted - but it feels more alive than any other world you've played on in this series so far.
You NEED a surround system to fully enjoy this experience. Halo has always been known for their atmospheric music (and the chanting....oh the chanting), but Reach takes it to the next level. The music itself just blew me away. And speaking of things blowing you away, wait until you get into the space-dogfighting area to see what they did with the sound there.
The voice acting is some of the best I've heard in a Halo themed game as well - all of the characters show emotion, and appear so much more human than MC ever did.
The story really shines in Reach - so much more than the rest of the trilogy (truck ODST - that was an expansion). It's a story of hope, a story of humanity, a story of fighting against all odds. Yes, you know the ending already. Reach is destroyed. There's no spoilers there, but it's the stuff that happens before that that you don't know. The story of these six warriors fighting to save what they can - fighting to keep hope alive.
The story is driving and emotional, and while yes, it is somewhat melodramatic at times, it works. At the closing credits I had to put my controller down and take time to take in what all happened. I haven't played a game that did that to me in a while.
I feel I have to make a separate category this just because of how improved it is. In previous game, I was able to go through Legendary difficulty without much of an effort, in Reach however, this isn't the case. The A.I. is brutally difficult this time around - so much so that Heroic feels like old Legendary.
There were quite a few times I found myself facing Elites that appeared to be using real tactics. An example is one time I was alone against two Generals. I would wear the shields down on one, when he would dash behind cover and the other would emerge to pound be. Turning my attention to the new threat, I would wear his shields down and the same thing would happen. It took me damn well 10 minutes to get through that one area.
While most might scoff at that, when you find yourself in a similar situation, you'll see. Reach sometimes makes you want to run to evade the overwhelming odds, rather than fight forever.
I don't claim to be a map maker - hell, i only messed with Forge previously because it was a mild hassle to make things work. This isn't the case here. I've already spent close to 18 hours in Forge alone because of how easy, and more importantly FUN, it is to create. Bungie has given the community a truly great gift with their final entry in the series - they've made sure that the creative minds out there will have no problems at all coming up with great maps.
If you have a 360, and you enjoy the FPS genre, this is a no brainer. 5 Michela all the way (I'd give it more if I could)
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