Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Halo: Reach

Halo: Reach Review

Kid Safe: High   Game Quality: High

Genre: First-Person Shooter
-          These game are characterized by the viewpoint and weapons used in the title. In a first person shooter, you are looking down the barrel of a gun as though you yourself are holding the weapon. Likewise, as the term "shooter" implies, the game specifically uses guns and firearms.

Internet Requirements: High
-          This game features little offline content and an internet connection is highly recommended in order to fully enjoy this product. This game features a rather short single-player story and a wealth of multiplayer internet-required content.

Story Summary: Halo: Reach is the prequel to the long-standing Halo series; which has become
      established in the video game, comic book, novel, and video genres. Reach
      takes place on, and is thus named for, the Planet Reach which is a high tech
      training facility for the Spartan soldier project; a group of highly specialized,
      trained, and genetically enhanced super soldiers. Players take on the role of
      Noble 6, the newest member of Noble Team; a group of the aforementioned
      Spartan soldiers. In being asked to investigate a distress beacon, you come to
      find that the Planet Reach has been invaded by the Covenant armada; an alien
      race who is at war with the Humans. What follows is the fight of the century
      as Noble Team works to reclaim Reach before the Covenant destroys it and
      mankind's one chance at survival.

Kid Safe: High
-          Foul Language: Very Low
o   Halo: Reach contains a very low amount of foul language. The only words found in the single player campaign that may be questionable is the usage of the word b*stard. It should be noted however that, in the instance an individual was playing online, they may experience harsh language from other players.

-          Violence and Gore: High
o   Halo: Reach contains a high amount of violence with some amount of visual blood and gore. As this title is a first-person shooter, players will be immersed in a war environment where they will be shooting and killing others; however most all of the characters that players will fight are alien creatures who elicit a spray of purple or greenish blood rather than realistic gore. The exception to this is in the instance that the individual is playing online where other players can be either aliens or humans. However, it should be noted there are several scenes in the game where fellow soldiers are killed; one young woman is shot through the helmet and killed as well as several others who are stabbed with bladed weapons and killed, including your character at the end of the game. Finally, there are several scenes near the end of the game which might be disturbing to some viewers due to the deaths of unarmed civilians. In the evacuation of the city New Alexandria multiple civilians can be seen scattered amongst buildings and hallways, either dead and slumped over or coughing and crouched, clearly injured and in pain.
-          Sexually-Related Content: Very Low
o   Halo: Reach contains no scenes of sexually-related content in the form of nudity, sexual intercourse, or sexual reference.
-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Very Low
o   Halo: Reach contains no scenes of use of drugs or alcohol.

Game Quality: High
-          Graphics / Visuals: High
o   Halo: Reach features a generally high quality of graphics and visuals. Compared to previous iterations of the Halo series, Halo: Reach offers a new form of visuals that adds a great deal of texture to both the environment as well as the appearance of weapons and armor; allowing for a more realistic look. On top of that, the pure scope of the visuals is daunting, with many scenes in the game trying to give the feeling of how small you are in comparison to the battle that is taking place across the entire planet; standing on a ledge you can find yourself overlooking the entirety of a  valley or city and you can witness battles taking place in dozens of areas. Many cutscenes in this game are simply breathtaking to behold whether you find yourself fighting off an entire battalion of enemy ships or flying amongst the ivory towers of a burning city.
o   Sadly, these graphical improvements were not added to human faces and so those individuals that are not wearing masks or are of an alien breed seem to be almost like mannequins in their appearance. Aside from that, the early parts of the game still seem unpolished as we ran into several instances of graphics glitches. The game would, without warning, freeze in gameplay or characters would stutter while trying to move through the environments. Luckily, these were very uncommon and only occurred in the first levels of the title.
-          Audio: High
o   Halo: Reach features a generally high quality of audio with a focus on the music and sound effects in the game. If there is one thing that stands out most about this title is the music. Halo: Reach features an absolutely beautiful array of music throughout the entirety of the game; all of them masterfully conducted and delivered for almost every scene in the game. This music varies in its design and tone but all of it is meant to portray the weight of the emotions in the scene; dropping soft and low for tense moments where you are sneaking about, only to raise and break in crescendo as you and fellow marines fight in an epic battle to defend your planet. My words do it no favor while it truly deserves the highest praise. Aside from that, Halo: Reach also features a large number of notable voice actors who lend their talent to this experience. Recognized actors such as Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Nathan Fillion (Serenity), and Jamie Hector (Heroes) are a small sample of a very large voice cast.
o   However, where the voice acting deserves special praise, it also deserves complaint. On multiple occasions, characters have about as much emotion as a brick. Luckily, the majority of these happenings are with side characters and do not affect the main heroes themselves; but they are none the less distracting. The weight of the situation is not enforced when a captain calling for help sounds like he's reading the morning paper rather than fighting for his life.

-          Gameplay / Playability: Very High
o   Halo: Reach features an impressively high quality of playability and gameplay. To begin, the controls are very simple and straight forward in terms of a first-person shooter and are not altered from the norm of the genre. On top of this, the game fully explains and further reiterates all of the controls before throwing you into any fight; including when you are introduced to any vehicle that you must pilot or use. Segwaying into that point, the game offers a huge variety in terms of types of gameplay and does not restrict you to the limitations of a first-person shooter. In fact, throughout the gameplay you are able to pilot multiple forms of aircraft, tanks, stationary guns and cannons, cars, trucks, and even a spacecraft. The gameplay was truly a delight.
-          Dollar-Value: High - With Internet / Moderate - Without Internet
o   The dollar-value for Halo: Reach is truly a mixed bag. The single-player mode suffers from two major problems. The first problem being that it is extremely short, maybe ranging only in the 5 to 8 hour range and therefore does not feature a great deal of play. Likewise, the second problem is that first half of the story feels unpolished; with many things making little or no sense, offering almost no explanation or back story, and generally feeling more like a shooting gallery than a game. Luckily, around the half-way mark, the game gains new scope and becomes an epic tale of the fall of Reach how the men and women of the planet fought to defend it. If you are playing solely offline, this game will not offer a great deal of dollar value.
o   This being said, where Halo: Reach really shines is its multiplayer. Halo offers a highly tuned and customizable online experience that give players dozens of options for gameplay. Whether players enjoy a more realistic style like Call of Duty or would like to stick with the futuristic weapons that Halo is known for; it offers something for everyone. Plus, if you don't like what is offered, design it yourself. The game offers an option called "Forge" that allows players to alter and build maps and games however they wish. Therefore, if you are connected to the internet, this game offers a high dollar value.
-          As Halo: Reach is highly kid friendly, it does not require any extra recommendations.

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