Tonight, I played Halo: Reach from Achievements.
Going in to it was excited, because it is easily the most polished, well-developed game of the series. It is the first time we as players have ever seen the Planet Reach, and man, do they make it look awesome. Every level, every mission in the campaign is so gorgeously rendered, its almost a shame you have to run around shooting things and blowing stuff up.
Speaking of running...
That was another reason I was glad to finally get to this game, as every night my partner in crime Caleb has been beating a dead horse over and over, asking for and complaining about the lack of a sprint function in all of the other Halo games. Well tonight, he finally got his wish. Boy, was he happy. He also got other abilities too, but none more important to him than the ability to run really fast.
Halo: Reach has such an amazing storyline, also. I know I raved about ODST, but Reach's storyline following the Nobel Team as you assume the control of the new kid on the block, Noble Six, a new Spartan recruit to the squad whom you never get to know anything about. You do, however, get to know the other five members quite well, as you start to rely on them as if they were real. Unfortunately, this is a story without a happy ending, as each one of your teammates systematically meets an untimely fate while fighting the good fight. The first death is unexpected, the second one you kind of see coming, and from then on out, the writing is on the wall for how it is all going to play out. Each death is admirably recognized in cut scenes, driving home the point that there is emotions in war, even for the elite members of the UNSC.
The story of ODST focused on the human aspects of the soldiers, both as teammates and the loneliness of death. Reach takes that idea and builds a monument out of it, glorifying the art of telling a damn compelling and emotional story of friendship, teamwork and solidarity. It still baffles me that Master Chief was never able to fully convey these feelings, missing the mark several times, always feeling like more machine than soldier. I guess that didn't bother millions of gamers, however.
Another thing I really wanted to go back and do tonight while playing this game was play the final chapter and see the ending of the game. I have to admit, this is top-three all time for me as far as an endgame level/ending of a game, easily. You character, Noble Six, has no team left and has a chance to leave the war-ridden planet, but chooses to stay and fight until the end, only to be slowly and methodically surrounded by the Covenant as your ammo and health slowly run out. The level starts with the objective displayed on screen: "Survive." You immediately think, oh cool, it's going to be like a Firefight type of mission, like the bonus mode they introduced in ODST. Then, reality starts to kick in as no matter where you run to, enemies start to come from angles. There is a health pack and some ammo spread around a destroyed shack, but you quickly realized you probably aren't going to find much more than that afterwards.
The objective, "Survive," is just a cruel hoax, as the only outcome of this level is to parish like your team did before you. A really cool cut scene plays out afterwards, showing you throw your helmet off and try to make one last kill before you are overwhelmed and brutally killed by several energy swords. Afterwards, a eulogy-type narration plays, glorifying everything you and Noble Six did not just for Planet Reach, but the war as well, showing your broken helmet still sitting where it landed, with a healthy looking, restored planet behind it.
Thankfully, I got to experience and enjoy all these aspects of the game I was looking forward to, but under different circumstances than I expected. When I started up the game and signed on, I realized I had some unfinished Achievements that I always meant to go back and get and never did, including a few for not finishing every mission (even though I did, but not in succession as I picked up at save points and it didn't track or whatever), and then a couple co-op ones. So that's how we decided what missions to play, by which ones I needed to complete for Achievements.
It's not like I ever care about Achievements any more anyway, but it bugged me that I never got these. Reach was one of the first games I actually consciously tried to get Achievement points for, so it seemed like the right thing to do.
I do love trophies, however, which are much, much different than dumb ole achievements. But that is a different article for a different time.
Oh, and we did play the last level as well, just because. It was still as powerful as ever, and I haven't felt anything like that at the end of a game since then until I played Spec Ops: The Line.
I'm kind of sad to see this week come to end tomorrow, but actually, I'm excited, because while Caleb has powered through Halo 4 since he got it for Christmas, I haven't touched the game once. I kind of always planned on this blog being the reason to jump into the game, so it's been a long time coming, and hopefully, it can live up to the hype.
I almost forgot one thing, however. SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN'T PLAYED OR BEATEN HALO: REACH YET, DON'T READ THIS BLOG, AS IT TALK ALL ABOUT THE STORY AND THE ENDING IN GREAT DETAIL. I'm supposed to do that when I spoil a game like that, right? Wait, I'm supposed to put it at the top of the article? Oh well. It came out in 2010. If you haven't played it by now, you probably won't ever anyway.
But you should, if only just to experience the end. Or just re-read this blog. Either way works for me.