Halo’s Combat Evolved
By Nicholas Catto – Since 343 Industries took the mantle of the Halo franchise from Bungie things haven’t exactly been perfect. Halo 4 had a campaign that you either loved or hated (I loved it), coupled with a multiplayer that felt outdated and slow. In their second effort they released Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which was supposed to make lifelong Halo fans dreams come true with the inclusion of HD Halo 2 multiplayer. What was supposed to be a great fan service and good will to fans turned into a huge black eye. The servers were broken at launch and took about five months to fix. So with all this did 343 learn from their mistakes? My review will be broken down into three categories. Campaign, multiplayer, and new gameplay innovation.
343 Industries realized that Halo needed to evolve to survive. As I stated in my opening, Halo has felt slow and outdated in the recent installments. The Master Chief Collection prominently showed that “just going back to Halo 2 multiplayer” wouldn’t work. 343 completely overhauled the mechanics of Halo, and it absolutely worked. The biggest change to me was adding ADS, or aim down the sights. While your hip fire is still perfectly accurate, only having to hold down the left trigger to aim in is a life saver is pressure situations. You no longer have to click in the stick to go back to your normal view, which can save your life if someone comes from behind you while you’re aimed in. 343 Industries also changed how you move in Halo. It’s now one of the most fast pace FPS’ I’ve played. The additions of sprint, clambering ledges and the thrust pack make Halo 5 feel better than every other shooter to date. 343 Industries “Halofied” the sprinting mechanic. If you sprint while your shields are down, they won’t recharge, meaning you can’t run from fights so easily. The thrust pack also makes combat and movement better. By pressing the B button your spartan will slightly boost in whatever direction you were holding, helping you evade bullets and move faster. This makes movement and combat feel fast pace and interesting. The thrust packs also have offensive abilities as well. If you’re in the air and hold down RB, your spartan will float in the air for three seconds and then slam the ground where you aimed. This will usually kill the enemy, but its very high risk because you are a floating target for enemies. Also if you are in full sprint and hit the bash button you will do a spartan shoulder charge. This move is high powered, taking all the enemies shields. Be careful when you do this because you can easily miss your opponent. Last but not least is the ledge clambering mechanic. Thanks to this you won’t just miss your jump while trying to grab a power weapon. Your spartan now grabs hold of the ledge and pulls himself up. While its a small detail, its a huge deal. Halo 5 is the best the franchise has ever felt. 343 nailed it with all its changes.
Halo is one of the last FPS games to have a great campaign that people care about. 343 Industries did a great job with Halo 4, delivering one of the best stories yet. With that being said, they dropped the ball with Halo 5’s story. Halo 5’s campaign is convoluted and just strange. They do a terrible job telling the story. While playing I had to rethink what my mission currently was and why I was doing it. This review is spoiler free, so I can’t get into exact details as to why the story is strange, but you’ll see for yourself if you play. Halo 5 also introduced a new main character, Spartan Locke. Locke is a cool character, but he’s very boring and dry. It wouldn’t normally be a huge deal, but because 343 makes you play as him for 80% of the story, it is. Not playing as Master Chief basically at all during the campaign sucked. I found myself missing him a lot more than I thought. Halo 5 was built for co-op play, giving Master Chief his Blue Team from the books and Locke his Fireteam Osiris. Blue Team gets zero character development whatsoever, making characters that are basically family to Chief feel like random spartans for hire. The same goes for Osiris, minus Buck only because of Halo 3: ODST. The main co-op feature they added was when you die, you get downed and can be revived by one of your teammates. When playing with other humans its a great feature, but if you’re solo playing it just gets annoying. Sitting on the ground watching your teammates get mowed down trying to revive you just wastes time. While I made this campaign sound horrid, its not all bad. Halo 5’s campaign levels are well designed and fun to play. Not only are they massive, but they’re filled with secrets and hidden items to collect. The levels offer you different routes to take and plenty of options in combat. If you’re fighting a hunter you can tell your squad to focus their fire on him, while you sneak around and shoot him in the back. The campaign is fun to play gameplay wise, just not story wise.
I saved the best for last. To ease your mind I’ll start with this. Halo 5’s multiplayer might be the best Halo has ever offered. Halo 5’s servers are silky smooth and finds matches in seconds. I haven’t ran into a single problem with them. The maps are the best they’ve been since Halo 2. While there isn’t a standout map like Lockout, there isn’t a bad one. Every map I’ve played has been great. The weapons are as balanced as they’ve ever been. Even if you have the rocket launcher, you can still lose to an enemy with an assault rifle if you play wrong. The new movement and gameplay features make Halo 5 feel fresh and fast pace. Halo multiplayer no long feels stuck in the mud. This game truly feels like “next gen” Halo. It took balls for 343 to mix things up and tamper with the gameplay, but man am I glad they did. The new game types they created are great as well. Breakout is a game mode where you have one life each round and either have to eliminate the enemy team or capture a flag in the middle of the level. The first team to win 5 rounds is the victor. In breakout, you also have no shields. You can take slightly more damage then in swat though. About two head shots will kill you. The game mode 343 is pushing the most is called warzone. In warzone you have a massive team and tons of objectives to accomplish. The first team to acquire 1000 points wins the game. Your team gains points by capturing the territories and killing bosses which randomly appear on the map. During the course of the game you will acquire REQ points, which you can use to buy weapons, vehicles and power ups you’ve collected from REQ packs. One persons strategy might be to buy a ghost or a gun early on to grab a quick advantage, while a more frugal player might save his points up for later and buy a scorpion tank. No strategy is overpowered. Warzone is also unpredictable. There is one last way to win besides getting 1000 points. If you capture all three territories the enemy base opens up until they capture one back, leaving their core wide open. If you destroy the core you automatically win, even if your team is losing 999 to 0. It’s a great change of pace from the normal Halo multiplayer experience. Overall Halo 5’s multiplayer is a must play for FPS fans.
Halo 5: Guardians isn’t without its flaws, but its still an amazing game. The faults of the campaign are made up for ten fold with the great multiplayer and new gameplay improvements. This game is a must play for Xbox owners.
Warzone and Breakout