I waited an abnormal amount of time to play this game first of all. My previous Xbone had broke and I was graciously gifted one for Xmas by my friends and wonderful wife. When I finally was able to play this game about 2 months after release date I was ecstatic.
I had done my best to stay away from spoilers and reviews online, only saw the occasional sentence or two of hatred for the game and I was admittedly nervous about it for a while. It looks fantastic, I love the way the guns look, the way the characters move and interact with the environment, the way the enemies move, basically everything about the mechanics of the game look great. The battlefields look amazing as well, the size of them, the details, the interaction. I enjoyed the more open world concept of the linear game style, there are now more paths to get to the same goal, more ways to flank the enemy and really strategize your attack.
I enjoyed the addition of having a fire team, the idea of giving them orders was fairly well done. It was simple with only having one button to give them multiple commands, the issue with that was sometimes the movement of battle makes you give your characters the wrong commands. Allowing you to choose weapons they can pick up was a great addition. The issue with this was the fact that although many times I have had them pick up a weapon, that does not mean they are going to use it. And what gives when it comes to plasma swords? The first time I encountered one on the ground that I did not pick up myself I figured it would be awesome to have Master Chief and Spartan Fred slicing and dicing side by side together through countless covies’ but instead I got a nonchalant response from Fred. “I’ll leave that one for you Chief.” Ok so they didn’t want to animate the fire teams using swords, another thing they didn’t want to do along with split screen, but that is a different rant. The first time I encountered multiple vehicles for the spartans was in the first mission for Blue Team. I placed my crosshairs over a Banshee and pushed ‘up’ and a Spartan headed my command and entered a ship, I was pleased. I repeated the command and in my head expected the first Spartan who followed the command to jump out of the Banshee they were in and grab the new one, instead a different Spartan followed suit and piloted away. Honestly I was stunned and happy at the same time because it was great how well the command system was integrated into the gameplay.
The changes to weapons I both enjoyed and was disappointed with. Let’s get right down to the first issue, no Halo game has brought back the Magnum like it was in Halo: CE. This needs to happen 343, we are all waiting.
Ok so the boltshot, I did not like this gun in Halo 4, this is not a Halo 4 review so I will not go into detail but to put it quickly, it was a poor gun and whenever I had no other gun to pick up I would rather melee enemies to death before using it to shoot. They greatly improved upon this gun, the seeking bullets are awesome. I was slightly bummed they got rid of the charge shot but when I thought about it, I am partial to shotguns and the only reason I liked that aspect was because of the similarities. The changes to the binary rifle, I was not to keen on. I enjoyed the one powerful shot from H4 and now it has this effect where it needs to linger on the target in H5 in order for it to cause as much damage as you would like it to. I do like the changes to the Incineration cannon, the charge shot makes it much easier to locate and fire at a target. This actually caused me problems when I went to play H4 again, I thought I was going to charge it and blew my own face to pieces.
The battle rifle was once a great gun. In Halo 3 it had it’s uses but could have used more power, in Halo 4 they brought that power to the gun and it was great. In H5 they didn’t exactly weaken the gun but the 3 round burst is so short now it seems more like one bullet and I am not a fan of the way it zooms in now. In contrast the DMR was excellent in H4 and equally useful and deadly in H5. I enjoy the new rocket launcher, much faster to reload, tracking system when zoomed in, just more useful all around. The hydra launcher is great too, basically a gattling mini rocket launcher, how can that not be cool? The rail gun has the capability of firing much faster in succession, which is just the bee’s knees.
When it comes to the covenant weapons I did not find myself using them much unless nothing else was lying around. The storm rifle I did not like from H4 and it only got worse in H5, bring back the plasma rifle. The plasma pistol gets less and less useful each game so honestly I never found myself using that gun at all. The main covenant gun I found myself using was the fuel rod cannon, and that was only when I needed the firepower to take out a vehicle of some kind.
I could go on and on about the guns, the enemies, the mechanics, but I think now it is time to focus on the story. I enjoyed every minute of it and I do not quite understand why so many people don’t. We all knew, if you listened carefully, that Cortana was not dead at the end of H4, just merely the part of her that saved Chief so he could return to Earth. It is a bit cliche that they are going with the whole AI takes on humanity in a war genre, but with the way that ties into the Forerunner technology and the mantle of life, I am ok with it. I was a little bummed there was not more Chief playtime but it also reminded me of H2, where I personally loved playing as the Arbiter. Also I might add that when he came on screen for the first time I squeed like a little girl in a Build a Bear Workshop for the first time. I liked Spartan Locke’s addition to the Halo universe, I like his character, he isn’t necessarily dumb enough to just blindly follow orders like I assumed he would be before I played the game, he has a good sense of what is right and what is wrong. With the way the game ended I am really excited for info about Halo 6 to come out. It just an action packed ending, and I cannot wait for the Chief and Locke to team up and kick some serious Forerunner ass and teach Cortana she probably should have shut down at the end of H4. I like where 343 is taking the franchise, so until 2020 when they will hopefully make a 10 year anniversary edition of Halo: Reach following their current tradition, I eagerly await Halo 6.