Monday, September 13

Jimmy Jangles Reviews Halo: Reach

A quiet moment of reflection

Jimmy Jangles reviews Halo: Reach

Screw reading all those reviews by 'journalists from game magazines' it's their job. And they are jaded and jaundiced in their reviews. Queue Jimmy Jangles who's bringing you, dear Halo fan, a real Halo: Reach review:

So in NZ we're a little a head of the rest of the world, in terms of  having rediculously good looks and time. Thus we got Halo: Reach a few ours earlier than the rest of world. And that's just half the fun. Did you have a punch up in your queue? Did an ambulance arrive for a non related event? Did a drunk old man on a bicycle ride ride into the crowd and hit the concrete? Did people turn up totally stone out of their minds. Yup, only on Cuba Street, Wellington!

Before the mayhem. EB games really should sponsor me while I think of it!
Here's my live tweets from the queue:

  1. Ambulance just turned up to the halo queue WTF !?

  2. EB games sort your shit out: noobs can't organize a line to save themselves

  3. Fight broke out in the queue - fists and all plus spitting - must have been Gears of war fans. #reach

  4. Oh look, mom bought jr down. BEST.MOM.3VER

  5. And yep, I think I'm the oldest person in the Halo q!

  6. 48th in the queue for Reach - WTF ? I didn't know Wellington had this many geeks !

Yep, that's how we New Zealand Halo fans roll. With the punches. Any way you didn't come here for stories about boys with too much testosterone and old men that have dependency issues did you?

You came to Halo Reach Game News to read what Jimmy Jangles had to say about Halo: Reach. What? You just googled 'halo reach news' and here you are? WTF dude, go play the game and then come back!

So the start of the game is what you may have already seen, the Halo VGA Trailer, albeit with edited dialogue which removed the line, 'Didn't think any body survived Pegasi Sir?' which is a damn shame.

Plot wise team Noble is directed some disembodied voices on the com waves to sort out some insurrectionist activity. Clearly the Covenant are playing silly buggers and are making plans to take over Reach so Team Noble gets sucked into the action, taking down cannons and cloaking devices and wraiths and other interesting surprises. This is the first three or so hours of the game, good clean Halo fun as you've come to expect.

It's had some of the sweet spit and spolish you could ever taste but at this point I'd started to wonder what the plot was and where was the Lone Wolf headed. Would he hook up with the Master Chief?  But I'd had too much chocolate and sugar drinks and at 5am I was feeling a lil ill so had a nap and came back four hours later....

And then the real fun began.

Except for the Space Battle in the Sabre. Lame! It reminded me of a game I played on the Commodore 64 all those years ago. It was Bungie's attempt at mixing things up. And they simply mixed things up. Of course once I left the Sabre and decided to blow up a Corvette (cute Star Wars reference eh Bungie?) the fun began again and we were away blasting Grunts back to where ever they came from.

The last half takes us though a series of tacked together missions using the Falcon chopper, some mongoose, some corridors and skimishes with Skirmishers. And Hunters. There's a boat load. Literally. A boat of them come in from an afternon cruise from one of the lake side tours you can do on Reach. Buck makes a very small cameo. I digress though - the plot thickens as Dr Halsey gives team Noble a real job - and that job is to make the game itself tie neatly into the events of the original game that started it all, Halo: Combat Evolved.

Many of the set pieces are actually mutliplayer maps with some slight modifications - its a clever move by Bungie, it keeps the whole Reach vibe going when playing Firefight and what not, but it also probably saved them some development time.

So what's new in Halo: Reach? Plenty of fun guns. The so called 'Pro Pipe' kinda sux, rockets still rule, the new Covenant lasers are a ...blast, the thing that fires blue orbs is great fun too. A couple of new rides including a forklift!, and some wicked assassination moves expand the Halo sandbox even further than Halo 3 did.

The planet of Reach itself is a character in the game. It's a moody little bitch, resigned to it's fate. There are no more sunny days to be had on Reach so the volcanoes are erupting, the light is dim and only sometimes the barest hints of colour come though. The artists and designers at Bungie must be applauded for their fine work. Also Bungie, finally got the characters face's right. Jorge and the Commander look pretty decently animated.

What of the characters themselves? Kat is a cool character but is actually annoying. The Commander is brave tilll the very end. The 'Born Heavy' Jorge has a heart as giant as the planet itself. Emile is a lame side story. He is not the bad ass the trailers made him out to be, at best he's a lame caricature of Willl Smith in Independence Day. As I write this I just realised that I left Jun behind at one stage and I didn't even wonder where he finally got to till just now. He must be boring.  Lone Wolf, well that's you and you are awesome. Especially at the end.

And what about the ending? Is it good? Is it epic? If you define epic as you will never forget what happens ever, then yes, the ending to Reach is truly epic. After a titanic struggle, it all comes down to the Lone Wolf doing one thing and that is...... go play the game and find out yourself! As usual, watch the credits and them keep you controller handy, you'll need it.  Epic.

I'd finish with a note of disappointment regards the music. The Halo: Reach Soundtrack will no doubt be a big seller simply because it is Halo. I found it moody, like the planet (or was that the music shaping my mood intentionally?), yet there were no big flourishes that Halo fans are so used to. No epic string section movements. Sure, there are some well placed nods to prior games and motiffs and what not but overall, I felt it lacked a little. RETHINK: having replayed the game with the Stereo on, I take all this back. It does have the moments, I just didn't notice them at 4am with the tv turned down to not wake the wife!


One can't do a review without discussing that the Master Chief does not appear whatsoever in game. SAD FACE. I'm totally, totally bummed at this. Bungie can say all they like about wanting Reach to be a new story in the Halo Universe etc etc. I don't care. I wanted the Chief! Update: The Master Chief appears in Reach as an Easter Egg!!

Overall Bungie have done themselves a world of credit. By bringing the Halo series full circle they have set the  bar for all other video games to come. 343 Industries have their work cut out for them to top Reach. It's certainly the finest game in the series in most respects, animation, game play, twists and turns and art for sure, though I think the stories of 1 and 3 were better structured and of more interest and intrigue.

It's been a long ride this Halo gig and Reach brings a nice closure, like a loving embrace from a girlfriend with whom you've broken up because they are movie to France. You'll think of her fondly in years to come.

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