Before Bungie left Microsoft as a second party developer, the company gave us one last hurrah for the Halo franchise. Taking place shortly before the events of the original Halo, Reach follows the exploits of Noble Team, a group of Spartans fighting the covenant on the doomed planet Reach. If you read the novel ‘The Fall of Reach’, you’ll know that the planet is on borrowed time. Stepping in the shoes of Noble Six, you join the group and do what you can to battle the covenant. While you already know the tragic way it will end, you’ll enjoy getting there in the meantime.
Gameplay is standard Halo with several new features. First of all, players have access to several armor abilities, such as cloaking, jet-packs, and sprinting. Also, there is a more detailed HUD with a compass indicating mission objectives and way-points. These Spartans aren’t built like Master Chief, so while they are much stronger than the ODST rookie, they still have to collect medpacks to heal themselves. The game’s levels have much more variety than previous Halo titles. You’ll fight through mountains, urban areas, forests, refugee camps, and even in outer space dogfights. The graphics are beautiful and highly detailed, and both the audio and visuals contribute to the feeling of an entire world under siege.
When you do finish the emotional campaign, the game features Halo’s signature multiplayer. Online matchmaking, customizable game modes, and editable levels (via forge) are all part of the package, and of course you can also purchase new map packs online. Bungie went out with a bang, and while 343 Industries is doing a great job of picking up the torch, Bungie’s mark on the franchise it created will never be forgotten.