Bungie says ‘bye’ to series with Halo:Reach

Halo: Reach, the final Halo installment to be made by Bungie, the original Halo creators, is set directly prior to Halo: Combat Evolved. Humanity has been at war with the Covenant, a group of aliens embarking on a religious venture that involves annihilating humanity. Planet Reach is the military stronghold of humanity, and its location has been kept secret to the Covenant for the duration of the war until the beginning of Reach.

Reach brings back enemies from previous games: grunts, which are cannon fodder enemies, and Jackals, slightly stronger enemies. A new type of Jackal, the Skirmisher, an enemy able to leap onto buildings and use precision aim, fights alongside them. The Elite, from Halo 3 and Halo 3:ODST, has also returned. As with other enemies, Elites are stronger than in previous games, more intelligent and even visually menacing.

As opposed to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the past that could easily be outsmarted, the Reach enemies have better aim, attack efficiently as a group and use cover effectively, keeping you fighting from one angle while being attacked from another. What would have been a massacre in the previous games proved to be a tactical challenge, a welcome change to Halo.

Another success of Reach was that the story takes a different approach. Instead of tying into the main trilogy?s arc of the Covenant?s search for the Forerunner?s and humanity?s struggle to survive, the game is more focused and personal.

Cut-scenes take the style of Halo 3:0DST, using more angle shots and playing into light and darkness. Noble Six takes on the role of a quiet character and, as it is visually able to be customized and gender specific, the player feels he or she is like a part of NOBLE team as opposed to being the puppet master of one of its members.

This brings the story to be far more emotionally gripping and allow the player to feel compassion and loyalty toward his or her allies. Further enhancing the campaign was the varied level design; no level felt the same, allowing each level to bring its own unique feelings and style.

Match-making was equally impressive, installing several changes that change multi-player from previous Halos. The most noticeable is that Reach introduced a class system, commonly seen in other first person shooters such as Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty. Players are given the option of several armor abilities such as the ability to send out a hologram of themselves or use a jet pack to fly above enemies. The default class for all matches is one that allows the player to sprint, something that Halo had never incorporated. While the addition is hard to get used to, it adds a variety to match-making and makes matches unique and fast-paced.

Rather than players vetoing matches, they vote for one of three combinations of game types and maps or none of the above. Giving the players more control over their matches makes games more enjoyable since players can choose their favorite game types and matches.

A less noticeable change was that Reach abandoned the concept of social and ranked playlists. Instead mixing social and ranked in an arena. The regular playlist allows players to have guests playing on their console while still being able to increase their rank.

The arena takes the place of ranked playlists. Players who enter the arena are given an initial ranking, then compete for a month and are compared at the end of the season. The new playlists create more flexibility and competition for players in match-making, enhancing the multi-player environment.

Halo: Reach was a more memorable experience in all aspects, giving Halo the quality it has deserved for so long. The enemies are more intelligent, stronger and unique. The maps and story provide an attention-grabbing variety, while changes to game play mix things up. All in all, it is safe to say that Halo: Reach is the best Halo to be made.