The final piece of the Halo puzzle.
Ask me any day of the week on what’s my favourite game on the Xbox 360. Without any hesitation, I’d tell you, it’s Halo: Reach.
Bungie’s last swing of the bat with the Halo universe was not only their swansong with the franchise, but it was also their best. Tying up together all the pieces leading up to the start of Halo: Combat Evolved where we were introduced with the game’s main protagonist in John-117, Reach was akin to the Star Wars prequels. Only in this case, it was delivered in a much more coherent, meaningful manner.
Back in the day, Halo: Reach was groundbreaking. Released on easily the best home console of that generation, the console exclusive earned rave reviews from everyone. Combat was fun. The campaign was engaging. The characters, memorable. So banking on nostalgia alone, you’d understand my excitement to hear that the Master Chief Collection which was due on Steam was to include this gem.
But being the ever skeptic, I had my reservations. Was Halo: Reach THAT good upon replaying it now on current PC hardware?
After downloading about 25GB or so – considered small by today’s standards, I had qualms booting up the game. I was worried about having my generally positive memories of a classic which I held so dearly tarnished. Rose-tinted glasses and all that jazz.
Were those memories of fighting alongside Noble Team viewed through rose-tinted glasses? Were my standards much lower back then? Will I still love it?
Thankfully, Halo: Reach on its own is worth the price of admission for the Master Chief Collection on PC.
For the unattuned, Halo Reach tells the story of Noble Squad. A special fireteam-sized unit of the UNSC Special Warfare Command Group Three. Composed mostly of SPARTAN-III supersoldiers and one SPARTAN-II commando as of 2552, the player fills the role as Noble Six, a spot which was recently left vacant.
Despite his (or her) late inclusion into Noble Squad, players get to witness the camaraderie and trust these top-tier supersoldiers have for one another. Your squad-mates assist you in various ways during gunfights, but not too much as to allow you to shine.
Unlike Halo: Combat Evolved where you plough through Covenant and The Flood as a one-man wrecking crew, most of Halo: Reach’s missions involve a SPARTAN squad-mate or UNSC foot-soldiers backing you up with heavy weaponry, vehicles or call-outs.
This, in turn, opens up various ways in approaching stages and firefights. Hardly novel by today’s standards but once you realize it’s a game almost a decade-old, you’ll suddenly be flooded by this sense of awe and wonder – this is the granddaddy of all modern shooters!
The game plays smoothly even on a 2019-standard potato PC. Hey, if it runs decent even on my T-Series Lenovo ThinkPad, it should run on whatever you’ve cobbled up as a gaming rig in recent years. For a game which was originally designed for the Xbox 360, this PC port is surprisingly solid, save for minor hiccups here and there. Rest assured, these little niggles are far from being deal-breakers.
A concern I had stepping back into the shoes of Noble Six in Halo: Reach was how the game would have aged as a package. It has been over nine years since its initial release – does the often lauded ‘brilliant level design and mechanics’ stand the test of time.
I am happy to reveal, much to the chagrin of the nostalgic part of me, that Reach stood the test of time. One would be easily forgiven if they assumed this game was a fresh 2019 release. Although, in retrospect, Halo: Reach was a game that was years ahead of its time.
Some outlets cried out that the game felt weird being played with the mouse and keyboard. To them I say this – you can always hook up your console controller to Steam to play Reach the way it was originally released. But you’re going to miss out on some fine aiming and precision.
Halo: Reach (via the Master Chief Collection on Steam) is like fine wine. It aged well – a perfect blend of old-school shooting, driven by nostalgia and backed with super solid gameplay and noteworthy additions. Case in point: dedicated servers to make the online experience as seamless as humanly possible.
A great starting point for those unaccustomed to the Halo lore, Halo: Reach presents a wonderful throwback to the golden age of story-driven shooters.
- Still as good as it was back in 2010 for the Xbox 360.
- A solid port of a classic title, multiplayer and all.
- Mouse aim makes multiplayer better.
- Some small graphical & audio bugs here and there.
- Some guns are overpowered thanks to mouse-aiming.