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alo: Reach is truly a landmark game.

HOver the last number of years the Xbox community have almost collectively experienced the evolution of Halo. From its humble beginnings on the original Xbox where it redefined the meaning of single player campaigns, through the epic multi-player experience that Halo 2 brought and then onward to the mammoth that was Halo 3. No other gaming franchise has brought so many gamers together or helps redefine the shape of gaming in such dynamic fashion.

Looking back on the history of Halo it is hard to see how another game in the series could possibly improve upon what has gone before and still provide value to the gamer. In a sense it's true that Halo: Reach does manage to provide a massive leap forward on the FPS genre - at least not in the sense that Halo 2 or Call of Duty have done. But I don't think that was its aim.

Halo: Reach is however a triumph in its own right. The flavour of the game and the way it is primarily played may not have changed too much but there is enough subtlety present for even the most hardcore Halo fans to recognise differences and on the whole these differences are a big improvement.

Halo: Reach takes place long before the adventures of the first Halo game. It is set as a prequel and focuses on the defence of the planet Reach from the invading Covenant. Reach is of major strategic importance as it is one of the remaining outposts that prevents the invasion of Earth. Those of you who remember Halo: Combat Evolved will already know of its role in the battle against the Covenant/Flood.

The campaign mode in Halo games has always been of epic proportions and Halo: Reach doesn't disappoint in this regard. Whether you are playing alone or co-op with up to four players, you start out as the newest member of the Noble team. Unlike other Halo games you remain pretty much anonymous in terms of a name for the entirely of the game. There are no legendary John Spartan types in this game.

Initially the campaign starts off slowly and no real knowledge of the other Halo games is required.

The Noble team are sent to investigate a distress signal from a remote part of the planet and in doing so unearth a Covenant invasion. From that point on you will encounter various types of missions with an increasing level of difficulty.

The Halo: Reach campaign slowly builds into one of the best in the series. There are brilliant level designs and breathtaking environments all and ments all at the right amount of variety to make the planet Reach almost believable f lanet ble as a destination.

The various locations around Reach are cleverly interlinked with each other so you get a very good sense of what the planet is all about.

That coupled with the very first Halo "in space" excursion, that n t provides jaw-dropping vistas of the planet, all come together to give you a connection with the planet you are trying to safe. g ll you a lanet you The pace of the campaign does feel better than the other Halo games and this is very welcome. Once into the game there is a lot going on and because of the expansive nature of some of the levels, there are a lot of options when deciding how to tackle a problem or engage an enemy.

Add a couple of friends into the mix via co-op play and you get a much more engaging experience as advanced tactics and knowledge of the terrain bring great benefits.

Once again the co-op campaign can be played online with friends or through the in-built match-making system. Co-op play is so inherently different to the solo campaign in terms of tactics and game dynamics and dismissing it as an option would be a foolish move.

In fact, the online co-op campaign mode coupled with the vast amount of options available to you to customise the gameplay, allow Halo: Reach an almost endless amount of replay value - this is almost unheard of these days.

unheard of these The level The level of options and tweaking availab exten tweaking possibilities available to you are also extended into the mu multi-player modes.

yct Never before have you had so much control over how the game plays or how you can define the conditions of each game type to extend from subtle differences right up to a complete custom experience. Match-making has e e d to exp M 3 also be there are allow you to the exact type o also been improved and there are more options to allow you to play-off against the exact type of player that suits you.

In terms of game play, Halo: Reach has one very noticeable inclusion. It is now possible to invoke special abilities that last for a set period of time and give you an edge over your opponents.

This does break away from the Halo gospel of always having players remain equal at all times but it is done in a subtle way that doesn't tip the balance too much.

These abilities range from adding a burst of speed, using jetpacks all the way to deploying a decoy of yourself to evade enemy advances.

These abilities provide another dimension to combat that other Halo games lacked. They also work very well with another new addition called "loadouts".

It is now possible to determine what weapons and armour you will respawn with. More advanced "loadouts" are made available as the game progresses and can have a very direct impact on the tactics required to keep the upper hand.

Halo: Reach can be described as the Halo release that brought all that is great with the Halo franchise together in one game. The Theatre and Forge elements are still available and provide an endless supply of custom levels and community based creations that are available to everybody.

The Firefight mode that we saw in Halo: ODST remains and is destined to become one of the most popular multi-player modes.

You can now customise the way it plays and even have some players take on the role of Elites fighting against the remaining Spartans. Firefight is available for up to four players and now has full match-making support.

Halo: Reach has really succeeded in bringing a lot of great content together in a real simple format. The menus are easy to understand and provide a level of customisation not seen before in any game.

The wonderful campaign mode and the depth of game play that multi-player provide all combine to make Halo: Reach a much better Halo experience that any of the other games. Although Halo: Reach is the final Halo game in its current guise, it is destined to remain a favourite for a long time to come.

RATING 92% ments all all The level tweaking available planet The level tweaking availab exten mu lanet ble WINA COPY OF HALO:REACH y This week we have 3 copies of Halo: Reach to give away. Simply email your answer to the question below to making sure to include your postal address and contact phone. Best of luck.Halo: Reach is exclusive to whichgames console? to a) XBOX 360b) Nintendo Wiic) Playstation 3 d to exp M also be there are allow you you a planet you also there are allow you you a lanet you


CLOSE ENCOUNTER: Various missions will test your skills
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2010
Previous Article:ON THE PULSE; GIG GUIDE.

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