I'll be honest with you, I didn't think I'd be coming back to the "Halo" series with this one. After playing all of the mainline "Halo" games, I expected that I'd just be waiting for "Halo Infinite" to come out before returning to the series. However, thanks largely to its recent (and now that I think about it, somewhat ironic) inclusion in "Halo: The Master Chief Collection," I ended up hearing a number of people tell me that I had to play "Halo: Reach," the 2010 entry that essentially served as a prequel to the entire series. Actually, some people even went as far as to tell me that it was the best game in the "Halo" series. Pretty high praise given how great "Halo 3" was, but given that it was a pretty cheap expansion to the collection, I decided to give it a whirl. And I'm gonna be honest, this will end up being another case where my opinion might stick out as being a bit unpopular, because while I certainly enjoyed my time with the game, I can’t say it's my favorite in the series.
"Halo: Reach" does have quite a few good things going for it: from a story perspective, the game has plenty of emotional moments. There are several scenes that genuinely feel like they can hit pretty hard. Visually, the game is (as you may expect) a stunner, and getting to play it on "Halo: The Master Chief Collection" with a facelift only helps make the graphics look even stronger. To this day, it's still a beautiful game, and the attention to graphical detail in this is impressive. Furthermore, the gameplay still feels solid, controls well, and has nice bits of polish to it, adding up to what is another fun "Halo" experience to play.
Unfortunately, I found myself very conflicted with the game, because some problems kept popping their way up for me throughout my time playing it. For starters, while the story itself has emotional moments, I found it very difficult to get myself invested in the characters. Perhaps this is the hindsight from playing the five mainline games beforehand, but I already had a bad feeling in my gut when I realized that I was going to be following a group of characters (the Noble Team) that would never end up appearing in any of the other games, and my bad feeling was compounded by the way the game handles those characters. It feels like "Halo: Reach" tries harder to focus on the environment and events surrounding the characters, to the point where it treats our heroes as being more tertiary, thus making them less interesting. Beyond that, another big problem I had with the game is that, for a title many that I'd heard was the "best" in the series, I was kind of expecting a little more "wow factor" or "innovation" in the gameplay. It didn’t feel like there were many big changes in comparison to the other games, and it almost felt like I was playing a slightly more polished version of any other entry in the franchise. While I steadily enjoyed my time in the game, I was waiting for the gameplay to "wow" me or sweep me off my feet, and it just never quite did.
Overall, "Halo: Reach" may only be a disappointment to me because I went in with expectations that were a bit too high. It's still certainly an enjoyable game, and given that it's only $10 as an expansion to "Halo: The Master Chief Collection," it’s not a bad investment whatsoever, but I honestly can't say that it's my absolute favorite game in the "Halo" franchise. Still, if your curiosity is piqued and you never got to give the game a chance, go ahead and try it. Temper your expectations because the game might not blow your mind, but even if it's not the best that the series has to offer, it's still a solid adventure while it lasts. And hey, at least it sort of washed the sour taste of "Halo 5: Guardians" out of my mouth while I wait for "Halo Infinite." Fingers crossed for that game, everyone. Fingers crossed.
Final rating: 7 out of 10 "Good"