Initial Halo: Reach impressions are largely positive (if you can believe it)

"Simply staggering" and "hauntingly beautiful" are just a couple of phrases which have been used to describe Halo: Reach recently as, once again, lofty language surrounds the latest game in Bungie’s money-printing series.

Reviewers have had their hands on Halo: Reach for several days now, and have been allowed to talk about a little about the campaign before posting their reviews. This fact became glaringly obvious when the review code was leaked and distributed throughout the internet recently. One uncouth gamer even tore through the entire single-player campaign and posted the ending cutscene on YouTube. C’mon… SPOILERS!

But getting back to the people who were actually supposed to have access to the game: pre-review statements have begun to pour onto the internet. While some are remaining cautious with their praise and critiques, others are, as expected, filled with love for the game.

UK mag GamesMaster heavily praised Reach, calling it "yet further compelling evidence of [Bungie’s] total mastery when it comes to FPS pacing." The publication also used the words "hauntingly beautiful" and gushed over the game’s "simply staggering" AI.

Kotaku’s Stephen Totilocalled one of the game's missions"the grandest level of a Halo game I've ever played" and aShack News previewerwrote dryly, "I'm optimistic and excited for the campaign experience of Halo: Reach," which is more restrained, but nevertheless positive.

These comments come from writers who have either had access to only one or two levels, or who’ve played the entire game, but have agreed not to reveal more until closer to the game's launch.

Of course, no one expected a negative reception. The core Halo series has been one of the most consistently well-reviewed game franchises of all time. The original Halo has the best aggregate review score of any Xbox title on GameRankings, and bright comments for Halo 2 were the norm, likethis one: "to put it simply, Halo 2 is a triumph in every way imaginable and needs to be experienced by anyone who has ever wrapped their hands around a game controller."

Halo 3 received numerous perfect review scores from publications including Edge Magazine, GameSpy and At the time, the game also earned the distinction of having the biggest entertainment launch in the history of North America, raking in $170 million in one day.

Above: Halo 3 is one of the few Xbox 360 games that has brought massive success in markets outside the US. Here's a shot of the game's launch in Singapore

With all of that in mind, it’s clear why consumer hype for Reach is at a fever pitch. We tracked Youtube for a random hour today, from around 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM Eastern Time, and found no less than 27 "Halo Reach" videos posted in the span of that single hour.

Above: This $150 limited edition version of Halo: Reach is sure to pump up the game's revenue

Recentcommentson the game's theatrical trailer include "I want [to] get a 360 just for this game" and "I just jizzed my pants." Nice.

If you haven’t been made aware by the million times it’s been said, Reach is the final Halo game developed by Bungie, which has broken free of Microsoft and will now release cross-platform games through a publishing deal with Activision. That gives us even more reason to want it to be great, and it’ll surely be good at the very least, but you still have a few weeks to be bombarded with grandiose statements before the game, and actual reviews with definitive critiques are available (be sure to read ours!).

Reach will be on store shelves on September 14th, and while a helluva lot more will be written about the game, both praising and critical, the boxes won’t be on those shelves for long. Critical reception doesn’t enter into it. (But read our upcoming review anyway.)

Aug 26, 2010

Digital "review" copy of anticipated Bungie game has been compromised

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