Halo: Reach Hands-On Preview
Halo: Reach  box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Bungie Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Microsoft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept. 14 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-16 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Spartan Savvy!
by Amanda L. Kondolojy

May 4, 2010 - Halo: Reach is easily the most anticipated game of 2010. Halo 3 was the first blockbuster title of this console generation, and while Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST didn't really match the success of Halo 3, fans are still expecting quite a lot from Halo: Reach, especially as it has been announced recently that Halo: Reach will be the last Halo title developed by series creator Bungie. The multiplayer beta went public a few days ago, and, while there are a few lingering questions and concerns about this title, we're pretty much sold on the fact that the multiplayer experience in Halo: Reach will be something to remember.

Halo: Reach  screenshot

One thing that is important to remember about the Halo: Reach beta is that it features just a sampling of the multiplayer modes and maps that will be included in the final game. So while we got some serious time in with most of the content in the beta, the modes and maps featured in this article are by no means exhaustive.

The basics here are the same as you remember from previous Halo entries. You can create your own Spartan and rise up through the ranks by playing different matches. Ranks in the beta include multiple tiers of Private, Corporal, Sergeant, and Warrant Officer. By unlocking these ranks, you will not only be able to show off an awesome little badge next to your gamertag, but you will also be able to unlock new customizable components for your Spartan armor.

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The customization system in the Halo: Reach beta is fairly lightweight, but it follows the template of previous Halo titles fairly well. However, once you are suited up and ready to go, it's time to launch into the gameplay. One of the first changes you'll notice in Reach (compared to other Halo titles) is the presence of a load-out menu that gives you the option to choose from several power-ups that you can use to gain a tactical advantage during the game.

Halo: Reach  screenshot

There are four different special abilities that you can equip your Spartan with: guard, stalker, airborne, and scout. The guard ability allows you to perform an armor lock, which shields you from enemy attack for a few seconds when active. The stalker ability allows players to disappear for a few seconds while approaching a target. These two abilities allow users to play very defensively, but if you are looking for a more offensive approach, the airborne and scout abilities allow you to either use a jetpack to quickly roam around the level or have an increased sprint boost. These load-out abilities are easily the standout feature of the Halo: Reach beta, and are plenty of fun to experiment with.

However, the way you use these load-out abilities will vary widely depending on what type of match you are playing. During our time with the beta, we were able to check out two of the game's maps and five of the game's multiplayer modes. While some of the modes were very familiar (slayers modes and capture the flag were identical to prior Halo games) there were three all-new modes to check out. These include Oddball, which challenges you to keep you hands on a single flaming skull for as long as possible, Stockpile, which involves capturing ten flags and bringing them to your home base, and Generator Defense, which allows Spartans to face off against Elites. Also included in the beta is the Headhunter mode, which involves grabbing flaming skills and hanging on to as many as possible, as well as the Invasion mode, which is an advanced Slayers-type mode that features an expanding arsenal that includes vehicles.

Halo: Reach  screenshot

While playing the beta we were able to check out two of the beta's four maps (the other two have yet to be released as of this writing). The first map, Powerhouse, has a similar look to High Ground from Halo 3 and is a multi-tiered level with inside and outside components (and a big waterfall!). The other map is Sword base, which is a darker, indoor map with plenty of hallways, corridors, and rooms to hide in.

The Halo: Reach beta is still ongoing, and is definitely worth checking out if you purchased Halo 3: ODST or were able to get a code. The new load-out abilities are tons of fun to play with, and the new modes definitely breathe new life into the game. Although the visuals are very reminiscent of Halo 3, the game's new features will help you shake off any lingering doubts about this title and get back into your Spartan armor. Although there is no firm date for Halo: Reach yet, this beta has cemented this title as one to put on top of your list of games to watch for this fall.

By Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor


Game Features:

  • The Halo: Reach multiplayer beta is set to be the definitive Xbox LIVE event of the spring and will run from May 3 through May 19. The beta will be accessible via the "Halo 3: ODST" game disc (an Xbox LIVE Gold membership and Internet connection are required to play). The beta will offer millions of "Halo" fans a unique opportunity to test and help refine the biggest blockbuster game of 2010.
  • As this is a beta, Bungie will be turning on different modes at different times to optimize testing. The beta kicks off with three playlists featuring the all-new, highly competitive Arena mode (4v4 ranked Team Slayer games) as well as "Free-for-All" and "Grab Bag" playlists, which include a mix of classic and brand new game types. Beginning May 7, the new large-scale Spartan vs. Elite "Invasion" playlist will be added to the beta. Finally, beginning May 14 the "Generator Defense" game type will become available.


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