Halo Reach First Impressions

Initially I wasn’t going to purchase Halo: Reach and instead just wait for Call of Duty: Black Ops to come out, but due to an amazing online deal I decided to pick it up to play through the single player campaign with a buddy. I picked up the game yesterday afternoon and played for most of the evening and from what I’ve played I’m pretty happy with my purchase.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Halo games, but that’s not to say I don’t enjoy them. I do think there are better first person shooters out there, but there is a good amount of fun to be had from playing the Halo games. I came into this one just hoping that it was better than ODST, but wasn’t expecting it to be better than Halo 3. And while I can definitely confirm that it is better than ODST, I’m not sure about the Halo 3 part yet.

Gameplay is pretty standard for a Halo game, not a whole lot has changed. One of the main things I noticed was the power up type items that allow you to do things like sprint, fly with a jetpack, dive out of the way, create a clone of yourself, etc. I immediately fell in love with the jetpack. The ability to fly around a map is a lot of fun, especially in a Slayer match, although it does leave you pretty vulnerable to attack. Aside from that I didn’t really notice a whole lot of major changes to the gameplay dynamic so Halo players of the past should be right at home when they pick up the controller.

As far as the graphics go, the game looks great. I have no complaints here at all. There’s also a lot of customization that you can do to your character since you’re not playing as Master Chief, so it adds another level to the gameplay. Combine that with the currency system, or points, that you are awarded throughout the game and you can make your character look completely unique.

As for the Xbox Live portion of the game, we played a lot of Co-op Campaign and while it was pretty smooth most of the time we did run into some lag issues occasionally. Obviously it could be (and most likely is) one of our internet connections, but at one point it was completely unplayable and we had to stop and come back to it later. I do like the fact that if the connection gets bad the game will pause and find a new host to try and smooth things out. There’s also a cool Point system that you can turn on during Co-op campaign matches that basically gives each player (or team of players) points based on how many people they kill, etc, which adds another level of competitiveness to an otherwise co-op match.

After a few rounds of campaign I decided to give the actual multiplayer modes a shot. I haven’t played Halo 3 since around the time it came out so I had a feeling I was going to get absolutely destroyed, especially since I’m so used to Call of Duty these days, but I was pleasantly surprised when my CoD skills seemed to translate fairly well over to Halo. I finished top 3 in all 4 or 5 matches that I played. I will say that this game has the most intuitive and complete matchmaking/party system of any game I’ve ever played. I can’t even describe how well everything works, whether it be getting friends into a party to play together or voting for the next map/gametype, everything is incredible. I know that Bungie has always been pretty good at this, but this game seems to raise the bar yet again so other developers need to take note.

So in conclusion I think if you’re a fan of the Halo series you will not be disappointed in Halo: Reach, but if you’re not a fan of Halo I don’t think there’s anything here that’s going to make you change your mind. I’ll play through the campaign and maybe mess around in the online matches for a while, but as soon as Call of Duty: Black Ops comes out this one will be pushed aside (if I haven’t already sold it on eBay).

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