The simplest way I can describe Halo: Reach
is exactly what I tell everyone who asks me for my opinion on it: the gameplay is phenomenal and addictive, but don’t expect the storyline to blow you away with cinematic prowess. Halo: Reach is a Halo title in all respects. The same enormous variety of weaponry both human and alien is available for experimentation, the same versatility of vehicles takes you from land to space, and all of this is accompanied by the same wide range of enemies waiting to face their doom at the hands of you: Noble Six.
There is a theme to this prequel that as of yet has not been seen in the Halo franchise. That theme is a presence of sacrifice that we’ve seen in cinematic trailers previous to the game’s launch. A spartan is on the run with a clear directive. Bomb in hand, he bolts at the Covenant ship seen in the distance while attempting to haphazardly avoid the shrapnel and oncoming fire from enemies. In a sad turn of events, a missile finally lands near him and leaves him crippled on the floor. A nearby friendly takes notice and picks his task up where it fell, leaving the poor soldier to gaze at the sky until death finally overtakes him after a look of understanding is quickly exchanged between the two. When the new soldier makes it on board the Covenant ship and throws the bomb into its pit, nothing more clear than “sacrifice” at the hands of genuine desperation comes across viewers’ minds.
The trailer was touching and well-choreographed, but the level of emotional investment is remiss in the events that occur in the game itself. Necessary sacrifices are made in the name of a dire struggle against the Covenant forces in this first stand against them on planet Reach, but the set-up for a story of desperation and sacrifice is no more than following orders as the newest member to the Noble Team tasked with various missions across Reach to help the standing forces and citizens in this time of war.
Your missions range from bringing relay systems back online to helping soldiers on the field to defending bases in space on a brand new battle spaceship. The most significant of your missions comes directly from Dr. Catherine Halsey. She has noticed suspicious activity from the Elite members of the Covenant who come in groups to investigate some sort of artifact on Reach. Halsey is determined to follow through with her data research to attain this unknown artifact before they do, believing that it will mean the annihilation of the human race if she is unsuccessful. Only when you are tasked with her lab’s protection and delivery of this data do you feel that the game embraces the storyline that was meant to be the face of Reach.
Halo has never been distinctive based on its storyline. While it is existent and the overall premise may be intriguing, the missions along the way are forced directive - which is all good in fun and games, considering I have all the motivation I need to want to kill the Covenant forces. This is, of course, the fact that it’s fun to.
Halo: Reach is not a game to be hailed on its quality of storyline. Characters are hastily introduced, and no particular bond grows between them. It’s clear that the intention for some form of relationship amongst the Noble Team members was present, but I’m never thoroughly convinced as a player taking the role of Noble Six. As Chuck has told me, [minor spoiler
] Halo: Reach is like a horror film: you know the events will lead to many deaths; the mystery is when and how it will happen. This portrayal of sacrifice is nowhere near as intensely felt as the cinematic trailers would have led you to believe [end minor spoiler
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