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Halo: Reach - A Halo-hater's hands-on

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I’ve never liked Halo. I’ve never liked it at all. In fact I’ve always found it to be utterly pointless. And I know I’m not alone. I know a lot of you feel the same way about Microsoft’s plasma-spraying juggernaut, despite the years of quadra-hype.

So having played through the same Halo: Reach multiplayer content as Charlie (check his preview first if you want the exhaustive run-down of what's new), I decided to write a preview just for you, my noble, sensible, Halo-hating brothers and sisters. And trust me, you are going to find it interesting.

First, a little background. Please don’t think that I’m a retroactive Halo-hater. I’m not one of those people who decided to dislike it once it became huge, and I’m not even the guy Charlie talked about in the intro to his preview; the one who just moans that nothing in the series has ever changed. No, my hate for Halo is pure and true. I thought it was crap the first time I ever played it, back when the first game was released on the original Xbox.

I hated the action-figure presentation, the bland universe, and the total lack of personality anywhere in the game. I hated the fact that all my time in the campaign was spent trying to work out how to move at a decent pace, until I realised that you can’t in Halo. I hated the bog-basic, meat-and-potatoes multiplayer, an experience that desperately wished it was Quake 3 but was hampered by the fact that it played like it had been wrapped in treacle. Underwater treacle. In short, Halo played like a sort of “My first FPS”, a training wheels version of a proper shooter, and it did nothing of interest for me whatsoever. And it stayed that way right through to Halo 3.

So I went into the Reach multiplayer demo ready to be bored. And at first, I was presented with a veritable catalogue of every reason I don’t play Halo. The weapons felt lightweight and plasticy. The stupid slow-motion moon physics were irritating. I had to look at the ground to get any sense of speed whatsoever. I was shooting my way through another shiny-but-bland set of soulless corridors and platforms. Screw Halo. Seriously. Screw Halo.

But then something interesting happened. We switched modes to the new Stockpile game type, and after a few minutes I found myself having actual fun. Actual big, stupid fun. After years of avoiding Halo because it didn’t do anything interesting, suddenly I was turning invisible, stealth-creeping along flanking paths, stealing flags from right under the enemy’s nose while it was busy with my all-too visible friends’ decoy attack, and charging back home to score in a death-or-glory hail of gunfire, stealth camo fading and support thin on the ground. Halo? With depth, tactics and variety? What?

And that’s when it hit me. I hadn’t hated Halo because it was simply just shit. The reason that it had always bored the crap out of me was that it had been built as a simple, accessible and solid FPS framework, but that framework had never been built on in any kind of an imaginative way. As an early twin-stick console FPS, its mechanics had been made basic for a reason, but with so little going on around them, the whole game had felt basic. Street Fighter IV is accessible, but that accessibility is there with the intention of easing your journey into something deeper and more exciting. Halo’s simplicity had never had that pay-off. Now though, things had changed.

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45 comments

  • pakk99 - June 1, 2010 4:36 a.m.

    You know, I just don't have time for those ADD idiots who think twitch-shooters are somehow superior because they're fast. The fact of the matter is that none of these people are smart enough to handle any game that asks them to use even one iota of brain power. I'm not saying Halo is the greatest game ever, but I am saying mindless speed shooters (a la Quake 3) are just plain garbage. Period.
  • noune - May 11, 2010 8:52 a.m.

    @mdiaz033 I agree halo looks like balls
  • crumbdunky - May 3, 2010 10:33 p.m.

    I'm no hater of the Halo(the novels aside-they're pure turd in book form which I found out after a mate inbsisted I try one. I'll never feel clean again!)even if the SP has been on a downward spiral ever since CE. No, the MP is good rfun even if I understand the faults young David here points out. Certainly, if you're more into tactical or team based FOPS Halo can seem VERY over accessible and tame but that's to miss the point of the game. Like Football(or ,*shudders* "soccer" as the US calls it)it's easy to pick up and everyone can be pretty good at it pretty quickly but this means it's very hard to excel at it and most people will find they have learned as much as they're going to relatively quickly. That, along with the over insistent aim assist the game carries are what usually mean I grow tired of a Halo MP after a relatively short time(compared, say, to a BFBC2 or a TF2-even a KZ2 among console shooters recently)so if Reach changes it up a good bit then all the better. I think Halo garners more hate than it deserves because it's just so omnipresent at release and a few of it's fans are way too defensive about it, playing their sales card without irony-which gets up the noses of people used to more sophisticated shooters. Personally, if they cutr down the assist a bit and add the stuff mentioned here tjhey'll be right on track to revitalise a formula that WAS getting a bit stale but, again, LOADS of folk like the way it is and we gamers are getting MORE not less conservative and set in our ways(look at the constant demands for HD remakes of old games and the way people moaned when KZ2 wasn't simlar ENOUGH to COD!)so maybe too many concessions to modernity might actually harm the sales of Reach.Who knows? I'm pretty sure Bungie were as eager to chaneg it up myself as ODST felt like they had a million ideas but didn't quite push them as far as they might have. All I pray is the story isn't as tired in the game as it was in the novel I read(which happened to be the one pertaining to the fall of Reach!)though as I've only rewad the one IDK just how close they stick to official canon anyway.all
  • aion7 - April 27, 2010 4:24 a.m.

    Nope. Still sounds like shit. I'll stick with CS, TF2, Q3, Tribes and WolfET for my fps'. As for everyone badmouthing SF, perhaps you should try to understand how a sport works before dismissing it. Anyway, SF4 was quality impaired due to it's "accessibility". I greatly prefer games that are hard to get into, but really deep and rewarding like MvC2, but SF4 still manages to have it's highlights.
  • johnthe5th - April 26, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    I just hope this doesn't get the same advertising that Halo 3 had -_-... it was on cereal boxes, 7/11s, McDonalds, Mountain Dew, Slurpees... I don't want to think about it. reCAPTCHA: kilning members (being a member of this site isn't safe anymore...)
  • Hawkman - April 26, 2010 9:08 p.m.

    JKKKKK!!!!!!! its soooooooooo awsomeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!! ROKKKKKKKKKK ONNNNNNNNNNNNN
  • Hawkman - April 26, 2010 9:05 p.m.

    Borinnnnnnn
  • Fuzunga - April 25, 2010 7:15 p.m.

    I'm certain that Halo 3 did the leveling thing before Call of Duty did. They were released months apart and CoD somehow overshadowed it. But I distinctly remember playing the beta and thinking what a neat system it was, then playing CoD4 when it was released and thinking they copied it. Of course, it's probably just coincidence since they were released so close to each other.
  • Hexar - April 25, 2010 5:53 p.m.

    Great article. It was nice to hear from a dissenting opinion and give an honest assessment of their latest title. I am EXACTLY like you, I never enjoyed Halo from day one. Raised on PC shooters a long time ago, Halo couldn't beat a damn thing that Half Life had already given me. I read the preview for Halo Reach here and I'll admit it sounded interesting, like they were ripping off more than a few ideas from other games to give it some more depth. I'm sure I'll still hold my breath on getting it because after it is still Halo. Filled to the brim with Halo dorks, horrible weapons, generic character design and strange physics. Now all it has is popular elements from other games (hey is there a cover system too?!).
  • Mazfgit - April 25, 2010 2:24 p.m.

    Dont hate me only my 2 cents. Im going to be honest i like halo multiplayer ALOT. Why? put plainly its HARD. Forget this Call of duty type game play were a 5 year old kid can be good, whats up with that? Camp in the corner waiting for other people to come around and bam dead. no skill what so ever, sure there are people out there VERY skilled on any game. I will agree halo is basic, you run you shoot its a no brainer BUT its what you do IN those situations of running and gunning that make halo very interesting. Should i grenade? if yes, which grenade? beat down? shoot some more? double back, retreat? all in a split second. Answer me this DO YOU HONESTLY get the same choices playing COD?? For the notion of its SO hard to kill people in halo heres a few points i have observed. First, i watch my team mates off the spawn not even try taking another weapon? what? to hard to decide hmm there is a shot gun there nah lets just run at 4 people spraying my pathetic weapon in some kind of misinformed hope of killing someone? GET A BRAIN!!! lol 10 shots with the battle rifle (yes the "pathetic" burst rifle) what are you smoking sure no one is perfect but it takes 6 at most and if ur good 4 head shots and the target goes down. Hang on... that's if you even bother switching weapon off the start. I have played my fair share of COD and Halo and i truly believe whether you hate me i dont care COD is the most BASIC FPS ever to grace the gaming world. You think halo is bad cause its run and shoot. you think cod is any different? and i say a HUGE lol at the fact that if you get ambushed in cod its over, there is absolutely NO WAY you can gun/knife your way out of 4 people, at least in halo you HAVE a chance to survive most any situations if your clever and a quick thinker. lastly as a SWAT and mlg player both of which contain NO radar i would like anyone to seriously tell me any/all callouts for cod competitive maps. There are so many for halo not even mentioning strategies for maps but i have never met any people on cod that play, i guess you could say hardcore. no they were all just guys with really strong weapons they have unlocked. how unfair i say, how unfair. To some up Halo takes SKILL, Call of Duty DOES NOT. (not saying there aren't any legitimately skilled players on either game) Sorry for long post, any abuse is most welcome :)
  • xSpeedyMonkeyx - April 25, 2010 4:52 a.m.

    Yea its easy for a rookie to get into this game but saying it doesnt have much else to offer seems kind of like a rookie thing to say. Im sorry but it seems to me like you gave this game a day and gave up because you kept getting dropped by people that knew what they were doing. Its easy to get into and over time you only get better. As for the slow pace comment, at least we dont have lame running classes where we dont even have to shoot our gun....
  • Stebsy - April 25, 2010 4:45 a.m.

    Halo is now only "unoriginal" because so many differnt games are out there now similar to it. I recall when the first halo came out and no one called it unoriginal. and if you think halo is a spray and pray game then your just a complete muppet for playing like that.
  • Menelin - April 25, 2010 3:18 a.m.

    The resident Halo-hater just began his first steps to becoming a full-fledged fanboy. Might as well call the site Halo Radar. I played countless hours of Halo 2 & 3, Both on campaign and multiplayer on my fanboy friend's 360, and few times did I have genuine fun. Halo fails for 3 main reasons: 90% of its "originality" is not actually original; it looks like it belonged in a 90s kid's action cartoon; and all its combat is chaotic hold-the-trigger luck at best. Halo: Reach only solves ONE of those problems (by shamelessly stealing tactic-requiring features from other games), and this self-proclaimed "true" hater jumps on board. I somewhat looked up to you, David.
  • Smeggs - April 25, 2010 2:39 a.m.

    Jetpacks, sticky launchers, stealth executions, cloaking, tactics, and better graphics than the 3rd game? To quote Family Guy, "I am sooo ******* Ready! *SMASHES THROUGH CIELING*"
  • Stebsy - April 25, 2010 1:09 a.m.

    @mdiaz033 yeah agreed.... the exemption being Halo Reach :)Seriously dude if you have xbox live go download the vidocs that bungie made and youl see how beautiful the campaign looks :)
  • Ogrebattle64 - April 24, 2010 7:59 p.m.

    I'm glad I have always enjoyed each halo game. I almost feel sorry for the ones that don't.
  • RebornKusabi - April 24, 2010 7:01 p.m.

    To all of the users saying that Street Fighter 4 isn't accessible, if you truly feel that way than I honestly feel you should either go play or watch videos of Street Fighter 3: Third Strike... or hell, any videos of Street Fighter Alpha 3. If you think Street Fighter 4 is "broken" and "cheap", professional players of those games will completely and irrevocably show you what "broken" and "cheap" truly ****ing means lol For your health.
  • Nocturne989 - April 24, 2010 6:44 p.m.

    Im not gonna lie, i love Halo 3 but i think the hype went out of control. Its a great game, but not the "ABSOLUTE BESTEST THING EVAR AND IF U DNT LIKE IT UZ A XBOX HATERZ!" After reading these articles, im so ready for the beta to start.
  • lovinmyps3 - April 24, 2010 6:34 p.m.

    BIAS!!! =P Now I'm looking forward to this game even more! Not long 'till the beta!
  • sterlins16 - April 24, 2010 5:52 p.m.

    halo doesnt hav any personality like while playin bad company2 online youcan always here ppl yellin payback and cussin out the russians. also halo is seriously one of the most generic fps evr but im still excited to play this game

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