by Jody Mulhern
previewed on X360
Say good-bye to gung-ho killing sprees of glorious pink haze and blinding blue light. Say goodbye to carefree combat of genocidal proportions with an inevitably victorious climax. This is still Halo, but this is Reach, one of the last bastions of human population; a military stronghold - pivotal to the survival of the human race. This is Reach, and you already know how this will end…
Halo: Reach takes place before the events of Bungie’s original blockbuster, Halo: Combat Evolved, released in 2001. It is also the developer’s last stab at their prized franchise before production privileges are passed on to 343 Industries. The game is set to be released this autumn, and the little information we have gathered suggests Bungie are going out with a bang. To ensure Reach will be their most memorable title thus far however, Bungie has had to make some changes.
In comparison to previous titles, Reach will be a cinematic tale of humanities desperate struggle against an all-powerful alien race known only as the “Covenant”. Yeah, I know this has technically been the main theme through all prior games, but I want you to really think about this one. As you grinded your way through the campaign mode of Halo 3, yelling “HEADSHAT” at random intervals, at what point did you stop and think to yourself – “This is a war… and I could lose”?
Bungie have addressed the lack of sensitivity from past games in a number of different ways; first of which being the game’s setting. Anyone who fancies themselves a fan of Halo fiction will no doubt be familiar with the Planet Reach and its fate. Reach is a vital military intelligence hub for the humans, and is therefore heavily fortified and valued by the entire race. Its fate, however, is utter annihilation. This is the premise that dictates many of the differences between Reach and prior instalments.
More emotional approach
The inevitable destruction of 700 million lives automatically requires a drastic change from the traditional Halo atmosphere, and Reach is shaping up to be the best example of human struggle since Rocky 6 (seriously, dude! You’re sixty!). To help captivate gamers and envelop them in the grittiest, most realistic Halo game yet, Bungie decided to take a more emotional approach to the plot and its characters.
When we were first introduced to the Master Chief back in 2001, we were instantly convinced that we had just met the coolest, most bad-assed space marine this side of the universe. The Covenant knew him only as “The Demon”, due to his godlike abilities and fearsome alien body count. But despite the developer’s best efforts in later Halo games, it appeared they had created a faceless monstrosity. A simple killing machine, seemingly devoid of emotion and relatively detached to any emotional impact the series might have had on the gamers. Still, I wouldn’t say that to his face… or rather his visor.