Like getting back in touch with an old friend after a long time apart, Halo: Reach feels deliciously familiar, almost running like a greatest hits compilation from previous titles in the series, with hugely engaging characters, ferocious action and seamless multiplayer modes at your fingertips.
A prequel to the original Halo games, instead of stepping into the super-suit of Master Chief, you’re an ordinary Spartan soldier, deployed to the planet Reach, which has been attacked by the hordes of The Covenant and cut off from the rest of the galaxy’s human colonies, and it’s up to you and your colleagues in Noble Team to counter the alien threat in an action-packed shooter that scores as highly on plot as it does on combat, aside from the frankly unsatisfying intergalactic dogfight sequences.
From piloting helicopter-like craft around the ruins of a flaming futuristic cityscape to night attacks on Covenant strongholds, the variety in the gameplay is a real strength, as the drama is laid-on in ever-thicker swathes and the sense of dread heightens with each completed mission (even if you haven’t played the original Halo titles and don’t know the extent of the horror about to unfold on the human race). The ability to play the campaign mode co-operatively (with up to four human players) adds immensely to the game’s longevity, as Noble really becomes a team, and you have to use your wits to outflank and out-shoot heavily armed enemies. Indeed, the alien AI is impressive, meaning that whether you’re engaged in a sniper-type scenario or a full-on shoot-out, the bad guys prove frustratingly hard to kill.
When you add in the gorgeous graphics and impeccable sound, from the top notch voice acting to the stirring score, Halo: Reach is one hell of a game and comes highly recommended for series veterans and novices alike. You really could call it the fillet of shooters.