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Halo Reach's huge battles and new guns

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The Covenant have also received upgrades to ensure their energy weapons aren’t overshadowed by the rattling machine guns and ejecting brass of the Spartan forces. Plasma shots hit home with meaty thuds, and continue burning for a moment while stuck to their target, giving visual and audio feedback that leaves players in no doubt why their shield has been obliterated. 

One of the new alien weapons, the Needler Rifle, combines elements of the old Covenant Carbine and the homing pink mist of the Needler, which sounds like a particularly deadly combination for mid-range headshots. On the human side, the new all-purpose weapon is called the DMR – Designated Marksman Rifle – and replaces the trusty Battle Rifle of Halo 3 as the go-to gun for anything less than sniper distances.

There are new enemies to go with the new guns, in the form of Skirmishers – they look like bigger, nastier versions of Jackals, with feathery manes and a penchant for stalking in packs. Even the once-comical Grunts look like a force to be reckoned with in the gritty new world of Reach, and everyone’s favourite old foes, the Elites, take their rightful place at the head of a Brute-free, non-English-speaking, alien army. 

Since the protagonist is tougher than the characters in ODST, but not quite as hard as Master Chief, the health system is pitched somewhere between the two. The shield is slower to recharge than in Halo 3, and there’s an underlying health bar that will, presumably, need to be topped up via med packs – like much of Halo Reach, all of this is still subject to regular tweaking and testing, as the Bungie team search for the optimum settings.

Ever since the scene shortly after crash landing in the very first game, where Master Chief rounded a corner and was presented by a battlefield of then unprecedented scale for an FPS, the Halo franchise has been renowned for putting players in the midst of convincingly huge fights. Reach promises to take things further still, with an engine that can handle up to 40 AI combatants and 20 vehicles on screen at once. If those numbers don’t seem particularly impressive, remember that’s potentially 40 fully active Covenant warriors, hunting in packs, communicating, flanking and firing at you. 

Outside of the player’s immediate sphere of influence, distant battles play out using lower level AI and flocking behaviour designed to look as close as possible to the real thing. Only once you’re within range do these enemies become sentient. The effect is that you’re a participant in war on a grand scale. Everything you can possibly hit with a gun is fighting back with the kind of smartness that has often given the best battles in Halo games the kind of emergent unpredictability you so rarely see in more strictly scripted shooters.

Not only are the battles more heavily populated than ever before, the environments that contain them are spread over a wider area. In missions where there are multiple objectives, you’ll often be free to choose the order in which you tackle them.

If you’re playing a four-man co-op Campaign with friends, the game engine can cope with everybody splitting up and doing their own thing, at least to a certain degree. You might take a buddy to clean up a nest of Covenant snipers in one area, then see the other two players fighting in the distance, down on the main battlefield. As in Halo 3, you’ll be able to take a party of friends through all of the game’s modes, including Theatre, Forge and some as-yet unannounced additions to Campaign that Bungie are planning in order to add replay value.

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37 comments

  • Stebsy - April 7, 2010 2:29 p.m.

    your right the wii has already won the console war wich is a complete load of shit but oh well. as for pples questions about the skirmishers they are relatives of the jackels and they arnt mentioned in the other halo games because they were all on reach when it was destroyed. and though it might not revolutionize the fps genre its definitly a step foward in terms of graphics and lighting and the number of AI on screen at once.
  • ryanlongmuir - March 4, 2010 3:17 a.m.

    this is going to be eppic
  • moanaschuster - March 3, 2010 8:31 a.m.

    this game looks awsome, i wish i had an xbox 360, im stuck wit da PS3
  • GrandTheftAuto - March 2, 2010 2:58 p.m.

    @ xboxrulez Give me ONE good reason why Wii doesnt count as a console?
  • Samwell785 - March 2, 2010 10 a.m.

    The POLYGONNNSSSS
  • D0CCON - March 2, 2010 2:58 a.m.

    I'm guessing in early may, all rentable copies of ODST will be sold out, even if they are currently packing store shelves due to lack of interest.
  • Silentcapt2 - March 2, 2010 12:01 a.m.

    The Halo series has left me fairly disappointed before, however this looks like it's going to be worth buying ODST to try out.
  • Samael - March 1, 2010 8:18 p.m.

    @Skykid Haha, sorry no, it's not that simple. Being the Halo story fan that I am, the Skirmishers make little sense. They seem very similar to the Kig-Yar (Jackals), so maybe they're a kind of genetic off-shoot? That would work I suppose. @boondocks50 That's possible I guess...still strange though.
  • mattol58 - March 1, 2010 6:38 p.m.

    @xboxrulez: You take xbox 360 way too far dude.....
  • tienesmota - March 1, 2010 6:05 p.m.

    the faster reloading totally won't eliminate camping, but it'll make snipers actually work for their kills
  • GrandTheftAuto - March 1, 2010 4:42 p.m.

    @ xboxrulez No, it wont revolutionize the gaming industry because it doesnt have anything to revolutonize WITH. It looks good but nah it wont. Oh and fyi the console war is allready won by the shitty wii.. So don't go crazy cus of this you mentally damaged person
  • Visual217 - March 1, 2010 3:59 a.m.

    Looks good, but after Halo 3's huge let down with lag and some other annoying bugs, I told myself never to buy another Halo game, except for Halo Wars, that actually looks good, but ODST just sucks. But Reach makes me think about buying a Halo Game again. But I swear Bungie, if you make this one suck like Halo 3 but made it look badass like in the trailers, you're just making yourself look as if you got monkeys working the devolpment, which I think happened when you released ODST, don't you think? Couldn't even add multiplayer, but include another Halo 3 with it as a desperate attempt. Nuff said
  • Skykid - February 28, 2010 9:56 p.m.

    @mattol58 I feel for you dude. That's going to suck. :(
  • Skykid - February 28, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    @Samel So they added another race to the Covenant, suck it up and deal with it.
  • mattol58 - February 28, 2010 7:52 p.m.

    My gold membership expires just before the beta in May....:,(
  • D0CCON - February 28, 2010 3:57 p.m.

    Halo 1 was great and so was 3, but then I played something else and Halo became very average (be it COD, Battlefield, TF2, or more, the something else was still better than halo). I also completely skipped ODST. Anyways, what I'm trying to say is how impressive Halo Reach is for getting me to be excited about Halo again for the first time in years.
  • boondocks50 - February 28, 2010 2:54 p.m.

    @Samael:the skirmishers could have left the covenent, been killed off, gotten the plague,etc..
  • Makk_Mizzy - February 28, 2010 11:37 a.m.

    I can't wait til September to play this HALO in particular because 40 enemies on one screen is more than enough for to wanna polish my marksman skills!!!! I hope Master Chief make a guest appearance gunning down some alien covenant brains and guts everywhere!!!!
  • n00b - February 28, 2010 3:09 a.m.

    i have never played halo nor has it interested me. however this one seems interesting also is surprising xboxrulez hasten commented yet
  • SausageLozenge - February 28, 2010 2:20 a.m.

    No Halo theme in ODST either, and it had kick ass music.

Showing 1-20 of 37 comments

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