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Impressions of “Halo: Reach”


I am a big “Halo” fan on Microsoft’s XBox, mainly because the game designers stole the idea for the Ringworld from science fiction author Larry Niven, and turned it into a death ray generator with a range of 25,000 light years. So the concept is interesting. It has the ever-popular zombies theme, in the form of The Flood (a parasitic organism which kills sentient beings, then reanimates them into an army which serves a hive mind) – that’s why the Halo stations were built, to contain the last samples of the Flood from the last outbreak millions of years ago, and to sterilize the galaxy if the Flood ever got loose again. And the game has lots of gunfire, as the outnumbered cyborg humans fight to survive both the Covenant (a multi-species alien army motivated by religion to exterminate humanity) and the Flood (which wants to exterminate all sentient life, both human and alien).

Halo: Reach” was one of the recent releases (2010) for the game series, and it’s actually a prequel for the first game (“Halo: Combat Evolved” in 2002). Halo: Reach got lots of buzz from the “Deliver Hope” commercial (beautiful music). It’s by far the best edition of the game, in terms of gameplay, if not in terms of plot. But I have three issues with it.

  • You don’t get to pick up a nuclear bomb from your fallen comrade and blow up a Covenant cruiser with it, as shown in the “Deliver Hope” ad. In fact, there are no “pocket nukes” of any kind in Halo: Reach. They have to jerry-rig a starship’s hyperdrive to serve as a bomb because they have no nukes. Unfortunate. Pocket nukes are very handy, though they’re often lethal to their users.  
  • At the end, you send off the “Pillar of Autumn” with its Artifical Intelligence cargo to fight the battle on the first Halo ringworld, as seen in “Halo: Combat Evolved” ten years ago. Covenant soldiers then overwhelm you and kill you, and there’s no escape. It’s a bit of a downer.
  • Combat options in Halo: Reach are called “skulls.” In most video games, “skulls” are trophies that you collect for completing accomplishments, such as killing more than three enemies with one grenade. The “skulls” in Halo: Reach are usually settings to make the game harder, such as Iron Skull (player death restarts the whole level instead of reverting to the last saved checkpoint) or Tough Luck Skull (enemies perform any available feat, such as a roll, to save themselves from death, every time). One skull, however, is called Grunt Birthday Skull. If you shoot an enemy Grunt soldier in the head with a rifle, his head explodes in a shower of confetti, accompanied by a champagne cork-popping sound and a crowd of children cheering. It’s very creepy. But that doesn’t stop me from using that setting. ;-)

It’s a good game, but they could have made it a little better. No matter… it’s MUCH better than “Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” which was really just “Modern Warfare 2.5” (shorter than it should have been, and really just a continuation of “Modern Warfare 2”).

You can see what I’ve been doing lately, when I should have been blogging. My apologies. I will try to get back to the regular posting. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

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