Halo: Reach music and multiplayer are best in class

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      Halo: Reach (Microsoft; Xbox 360; rated mature)

      Halo: Reach improves on its predecessor, 2007’s Halo 3, in virtually every way. Which makes it kind of unremarkable—aren’t good sequels kind of old-hat these days?

      Reach is unsurprisingly well tuned and polished, and predictably full-featured and robust. It does everything just a little bit better. This shocks nobody.

      It’s possibly the best Halo game to date, and if you have any penchant whatsoever for sci-fi shooters, you should play it. Yet beyond saying so, I’m finding I have little to add to the collective discourse. (You can read Blaine Kyllo’s review.)

      But in my mind the music of Reach merits additional discussion. Composer Martin O’Donnell’s score is outstanding, and anyone with an appreciation of such things might want to check it out, simply for a lesson on how profoundly a video game’s musical direction can enhance the experience. Hollywood film-scoring greats have nothing on O’Donnell, who’s among the best in the business and says Reach’s story gave him multiple opportunities to try and evoke strong emotions.

      Aside from the music, the standout aspect of Reach is, for me, its multiplayer mode.

      Reach Multiplayer (or ”˜Matchmaking’, as it’s dubbed in game’s menu) is as feature-laden as you might imagine, allowing players seemingly endless character and match customization options, as well as offering oddly compelling daily and weekly challenges, and numerous unlock progressions to keep you coming back.

      Weapons are balanced, and feel satisfying in your hands. Armor abilities (players select a secondary ability, which they may unleash every few seconds—sprint, jetpack, hologram, cloak, et cetera) add nuances to gameplay.

      Then there’s the feel—Halo multiplayer matches have a ridiculousness to them, which just isn’t present in other shooters, such as Modern Warfare 2. It’s hard to put a finger on why, but space-age weaponry and jetpacks certainly factor in.

      But the Halo experience is lighter somehow, while remaining just as deep and strategic. I’ll also postulate that with its sprawling, vertical arenas, flanking opponents and using team tactics more frequently play a key role in Halo: Reach superiority, than in MW2 matches, which frequently devolve into tight-quarters quickdraw showdowns.

      The party system is also better than it’s ever been—Reach makes it a cinch to hook up with friends, allowing you to queue up someone’s party and automatically join, once their current game is finished. In pre-game lobbies, players vote between three different game types or “none of the above”, which, if it wins, results in a new vote.

      Reach rang up in excess of $200 million in sales in the U.S. and Europe in the first 24 hours it was available, according to publisher Microsoft. Canadian sales figures aren’t available, but Halo hype definitely made its way across the border, as hundreds lined up at stores for midnight launch events for Reach at 16 retailers across Canada.

      In other words, you’ll find no shortage of people with whom to play Slayer matches.

      Chris Vandergaag is a Vancouver-based freelancer. When he's not gaming, writing, or forwarding links of questionable moral repute, he's asleep.



      Matty K.

      Sep 25, 2010 at 3:10pm

      30 seconds into first match of Reach multiplayer: Had a Banshee crash right into me.


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      Oct 23, 2010 at 9:18am

      lolololololol suckas!

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