Thursday, August 19, 2010

Halo Reach Campaign Mode Revealed

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Halo Reach Campaign Mode

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        The good part is that Halo: Reach will very soon be available for purchase. Considering it's consistently been one of the most popular video game franchises around during it's run since 2001, the millions of Halo fans out there have to be pretty excited about an opportunity to dig into a new story that fills out more of the fiction, in this case an all-out war between Spartans and Covenant forces, as well as smack around others online for fun and profit. The fact that it'll soon be out is also the sad part, since this is Bungie's last Halo title before the studio moves into its Activision era to produce some unknown franchise.

I hadn't yet had an opportunity to see close-up any of the campaign from Reach, and having seen one part of a level, it looks like it'll be quite a ride. Since this is supposed to be an epic battle between forces, the sheer scale of the conflict adds a dramatic element to the typical Halo shoot, grenade, melee combat. Racing along in a Warthog equipped with dual rocket pods instead of a chaingun (appropriately titled a rocket hog), you can turn and peer across a vast canyon below the cliffs that stretch out to mountains in the distance. All throughout the air above and beyond the cliff circle fighters hammering away at each other in the sky as explosions silently erupt in the distance. It's quite a scene, and mixed in with the explosions of combat as enemies fire off energy weapons and detonate explosives, makes it seem easy to get wrapped up in the experience.

The goal of this particular section of mission is to help your squad of Spartans disable an anti-air battery. To do so you'll need to shoot through heavy resistance, from the standard grunts to the Revenant vehicles, which Bungie describes as a cross between Wraiths and Ghosts. If you're not all that familiar with Halo it might be a little harder to understand what most of this means since the community is accustomed to the naming conventions, and understands that if you scream 'Scarab!' someone else you're playing with is likely to curse and momentarily panic. Still, even with such a hardcore following, it's always been easy to dive into and enjoy Halo games thanks to tight controls and varied enemy AI that keep encounters interesting.

In this stage, once you reach the anti-air tower and wipe out the enemies that stream forth from it, you can run up and blow the thing to bits. With the skies overhead safe, two utterly massive frigates move into view as a formation of vanguard bombers scream across the sky and light up a number of lumbering scarabs pounding across the valley below. The next part of the mission involves clearing more air space by destroying additional anti-air guns, but that's where the demo cut off.

Large scale fights, exciting gun play, and a huge scale of conflict seem to be in store for Halo fans when Reach is finally made available next month. With an improved Firefight mode, tweaked multiplayer, and all the other features franchise fanatics would expect, it's hard to imagine many being disappointed with this one. Of course nobody will know for sure until the final game is seen in its entirety.

Who can forget the dark encounters with the covenant in Halo 3. There were snipers trying to pick you off across the map, ghosts flying around corners driving you into remission, and wraiths shooting blasts ceaselessly at you across the map trying their luck. Well, Halo Reach is not even a mirror image of that. ITS HARDER, MORE INTENSE, AND WAY MORE THRILLING AND LONG. This is it, the final Battle between the Covenant and the Spartans. Who will take Victor? We suppose the Spartans or is there a twist? Moving on, here is an in depth look at Halo reach Campaign mode:

What's the biggest change being made for Bungie's final Halo game? Some would argue that the visuals, powered by a brand new graphics engine, make the greatest impact. Sure, Halo: Reach looks better than any Halo before it -- but that's not what I was taken aback by. Others would argue the lack of Master Chief makes Reach feel different from its predecessors. Yes, the Spartan-III jumps a bit differently, but that doesn't define Reach's new emotional direction. No, the biggest game-changer is this: the Covenant don't speak English.

Before you angrily hit the "Back" button on your browser, hear me out. In the previous Halo games, the Covenant were like movie villains; they could even quip one-liners at you. Some would even squeal, comically, as they ran away from an overpowered Master Chief. However, because Halo Reach isn't a story about a triumphant victory -- rather, a tragedy against an overwhelming alien force -- Bungie was left with a challenge: how do you reinvent the Covenant -- familiar to a generation of Halo gamers -- and make them threatening again? You make them truly alien.

While it may seem like a rather cosmetic change, this creative decision represents a maturity in Bungie's storytelling abilities. The developer wants you to take the story seriously -- so much so that the flaming helmet included in the $150 Legendary Edition can't be used in the campaign. (Apparently, having someone's head on fire in cut scenes drastically reduces its gravitas.)
Halo: Reach (E3 Campaign)

So, what about the gameplay
The addition of space combat is much-welcomed, giving Reach a greater sense of scale than the previous Halo games. The battles look ripped from a Star Fox, especially when you do a barrel-roll. Waves of enemies will jump into the field, and an objective marker on the HUD will show what you're supposed to defend. Health works identically to the main game: once your armor is depleted, the hull will start deteriorating. Stay out of fire, and your armor will replenish. While conceptually very exciting, the gameplay showcased here seemed relatively straightforward -- we didn't see much in terms of enemy variety, for example. The final game may hold more depth, but Space Combat Evolved this is not.

I've only seen a small portion of the Halo: Reach campaign, but I'm definitely eager to see more. Halo fans are probably already sold on the game, even those that skipped ODST. It may not reinvent the wheel like the first Halo, but Reach's refined gameplay and story should provide reason enough for even non-fans to be excited.

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