By this time, most of you serious Halo fans have probably read the new issue of Game Informer with its 10-page Halo: Reach story. Hell, some of you have probably even memorized it, framed it or had it transferred to your arm in tattoo form. So, if you’re wearing Master Chief Underwear right now, you may want to move along, as there is nothing new here that I can tell you. For the rest of you, I have written this summary of the Game Informer article to introduce you to some of the cool new things coming when Halo: Reach launches later this year.
Reach will have you starring as Noble 6, the newest member of Noble Team. You are a Spartan III, a cheaper and more expendable member of the Spartan family. You’re not quite the badass Mr. Chief is but you’ve got some friends to help you on your way. Noble Team consists of 4 more Spartan III’s and one old Spartan II who acts as your heavy weapons specialist.
The Covenant you know-and-love-to-kill return but will reportedly be a bit more menacing this time around. That means the signature cutesy remarks from the Grunts will probably be absent in favor of a more serious, darker tone. Covenant Elites finally make their return as the alpha-dogs of the Covy forces; and early screens have them walking more upright than you’ve seen them previously. A new species of Covenant has also been announced. Cousins of the Jackal, Skirmishers, hunt in packs and flank your squad with tactical prowess.
Bungie has told G.I. that many of your favorite weapons will return but have been “re-imagined” to be more realistic in their look and sound. You will also get to wield some new firepower like the DMR (Designated Marksman Rifle) and the Needler Rifle, with the former being somewhat of a cross between a Battle Rifle and a Sniper Rifle. Gone will be the Flame and Spike grenades, leaving you with only the original duo of Plasma and standard UNSC Frag.
Reach’s health system will be similar to that of Combat Evolved, where Health Packs are needed to restore your health. There will too be some armor abilities that you can pick up and activate. There is a Sprint Ability that lets you run at high speeds for short intervals, and Master Chiefs’ favorite, Active Camouflage, makes a comeback. Speaking of Active Camouflage, context sensitive melee kills using a Combat Knife can occur if you’re sneaky enough and hold the melee button behind your foe.
Maybe the most exciting details revealed by G.I. are the ones about the new tech upgrade promised by Bungie. In Reach there will be far more detail all across the board—guns, characters, water, rocks, vehicles, lighting, effects and textures have all been given a new layer of polish that the Halo series has been needing for a while. The new tech also allows for larger spaces for exploration and twice the number of enemy AI that can be on screen at once—allowing Bungie to increase the scope and size of the battles you’ll be fighting in. Player and character animation is set to be much better this time, too. Motion capture is being implemented by Bungie for the first time in franchise history and some animation duties are even being handled out-of-house for Reach. Employing Image Metrics to handle some of the facial animation duties should ensure the days of fugly-faced NPC’s in the Halo games are finally gone.
Well, there you have it. Everything known so far about Halo: Reach in summary. Now you don’t need to spend money on this month’s issue of Game Informer. You can now donate that money to Haiti or get a hooker or something...
Anyway, Reach should definitely be 2010’s biggest exclusive Xbox 360 game. Bungie seems hell-bent on proving that they can continue to make great games even in the AC (After Chief) era.
I can’t wait for Reach’s beta to start (hopefully really soon) and the full release later this year.