|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|
In addition to the game's multiplayer mode, Halo: Reach also sees the return of Forge mode, which allows you to create your own variations on Halo levels. Forge mode is even more robust in Halo: Reach than it was previously, and has a total of nine different maps you can mod out using the drop-in tools in Forge. Among these maps is a particularly impressive "Forge World," which is incredibly expansive and gives the creative gamer ample room to make anything from a level made of crates to a demolition derby with Halo's signature vehicles within its confines.
Once you get your hands on Halo: Reach, it is easy to feel almost overwhelmed by the amount of content in this game. Although I doubt anyone would complain about there being too much content in a game, there is just so much to explore that it can be daunting at first. However, the menus in Halo: Reach are expertly designed, and everything from the campaign to the specific multiplayer modes and your personal character stats are all accessible directly from the main menu. The menu screen also acts as your own personal game hub as it gives you information about your friends without ever needing to leave the main screen. Jumping into whatever multiplayer or campaign level you want has never been easier, and Halo: Reach's menu system does a great job of getting you where you want to go with as little fuss as possible.
As far as production values go, Halo: Reach is expectedly solid. The feel and look of the world of Reach is remarkably different from other locales in the series, and features plenty of Earthy, almost rugged landscapes. The color palette is also a lot more rustic, which helps to set this title apart graphically from its predecessors. Aside from the changes in landscape, most of the graphical content in Halo: Reach will look familiar to series veterans, albeit with a few new coats of polish.
The sound in Halo: Reach is one area where the game absolutely exceeds expectations. The music in the game moves sublimely through fast-faced action themes to moody dramatic themes with a deftness that is rarely seen outside the upper echelon of the film industry. Likewise, the voiceover work is handled expertly, and all of the voice actors do an excellent job of bringing the Noble Six team, as well as the people around them, to life brilliantly. Even the audio in the multiplayer modes is expertly done, and the balance between background music and sound effects works perfectly to create just enough sound to be interesting, but not enough to break your concentration or distract you (we all know how that is).
Halo: Reach is the closest thing I've seen to a perfect shooter. Though I've experienced the odd graphical glitch or framerate slowdown, the game's massive amount of content and truly worthwhile campaign mode make this the apex of the Halo franchise, and perhaps the shooting genre too (at least on the Xbox 360). It is somewhat ironic that the end of the Halo franchise (as helmed by Bungie) is taking place at the beginning of the Halo mythos, and the best game the franchise has produced to date doesn't feature the character so many had come to associate with the series. Perhaps, in the end, this is further proof that while some will always express a preference for sameness between iterations of a beloved franchise, sometimes change is what makes a great series into something truly epic. 343 Industries, you've got some big shoes to fill.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor