‘Halo Reach’ Impressions

September 20, 2010 § Leave a comment

[Author’s note: this was actually written as a forum post and has simply been copied over, but I felt it so nicely encapsulated my feelings about the game.]

As far as Halo goes, this is the pinnacle of the series. It is still Halo, though, so if you’ve never cared for it before, this isn’t going to change your mind. The architecture and landscape still have that weird artificial, contrived feel (unlike Half-Life 2’s City 17, for example, or BioShock’s Rapture). Likewise, the characters, while they have a smidge more depth to them here, still don’t amount too much. Also, as someone who has played through Halo 1, 3 and ODST, the plot is relentlessly unforgiving in assuming the audience’s foreknowledge of the fictional universe. To anyone who hasn’t played those games, the story is nigh on incomprehensible, as it was to me in certain segments.

On a special note: I think the soundtrack is absolutely phenomenal and one of the best I’ve ever heard. Without it, Reach wouldn’t have anything near the amount of emotional pull and gravitas it ends up with. As I said, I didn’t quite get the story sometimes, but Halo has always been about painting themes in broad, bombastic strokes, and to that end the soundtrack succeeded in being the metaphorical brush. It takes the best parts of ODST, the bitter-sweet sorrow of sacrifice and hope in the face of insurmountable odds, and incorporates it to fit in a grander scale. It’s an appropriate theme, too, and a poignant one, considering this is Bungie’s last foray into the Halo universe. It is truly their love letter to the series and the fans – their beautiful swan song before they depart for adventures new.

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