“Halo: Reach” is a title ten years in the making. As a prequel to “Halo: Combat Evolved,” the game that launched the Halo franchise, the ending is clear even before the console turns on. A compelling tragedy, the game tells the story of Noble Team, a highly trained commando squad composed of six Spartans, during the fall of the planet Reach. The protagonist, Noble Six, joins the team on the first day of the Covenant invasion on Reach and must overcome insurmountable odds against overwhelming opposition.
Despite the strong campaign mode, the multiplayer element of Reach is just as addictive, if not more so. With the classic matchmaking — incorporating the old time favorites such as slayer and capture the flag, along with new game types such as invasion — competitive play will never get old. And returning from “Halo: ODST” is the more recent firefight mode, ensuring a solid multiplayer cooperative play that promises unique and challenging encounters for years to come.
One new element to the multiplayer experience is the addition of “loadouts,” a preset selection of weapons and grenades, as well as an armor ability. These selections provide a very convenient way of adapting to the changes in a competitive environment. Among the coolest loadouts are the Airborn Loadout, which gives the player a jet pack, and the Stalker Loadout, which gives the player active camouflage.
Forge, Halo’s map editor, has also received an upgrade. The abilities given to the pseudo-designer in Forge are unbelievable. Tricks to fine-tune the map exactly the way you wanted it in “Halo 3” are now standard tools. These tricks include the phase tool, which allows the player to build objects that can intersect or merge, ensuring that your new structure is 100 percent secure, and the new map, Forge World, is a veritable designer’s paradise.
Even ten years into the franchise, “Halo: Reach” is both a triumph and a fitting tribute to all the great moments of the Halo series. So grab a copy, kick back in your favorite chair, and I’ll see you online.