The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Review and Reflections on The Master Chief Collection: Halo Reach

“It didn’t take long for Reach to fall: our enemy was ruthless. Efficient. But they weren’t nearly fast enough. For you had already passed the torch. And because of you, we found Halo, unlocked its secrets, shattered our enemy’s resolve. Our victory, your victory, was so close, I wish you could have lived to see it. But you belong to Reach. Your body, your armour, all burned and turned to glass. Everything, except your courage. That, you gave to us. And with it, we can rebuild.” –Dr. Catherine Halsey,

Noble Six is the latest to join Nobel Team, a fireteam of elite Spartan super-soliders. As a member of Noble, Six is deployed to investigate a communications array that had gone offline unexpectedly, and encounter an advance group Covenant soldiers; Noble Team learns that the Covenant intend to invade Reach, and in response, the UNSC enact the Winter Contingency plan. Noble Team is sent to defend Sword Base, and are subsequently tasked with gathering intel on the scale of the Covenant forces and join an assault against the invading Covenant. When a Covenant super-carrier joins the fight, Noble are tasked with boarding a smaller corvette and using it as a makeshift bomb. While they are successful in destroying the super-carrier, Jorge is killed when he volunteers to stay behind and detonate the bomb, which had become damaged. However, a Covenant armada appears. Six and the others return to the surface to assist with evacuation efforts, and Kat is killed by a sniper during evacuation. Noble team is then recalled to extract a critical asset from Dr. Catherine Halsey: the AI chip for Cortana. Jun accompanies Halsey to another base, while Six and Emile fight their way to the Pillar of Autumn. Emile dies when Elites impale him, and Six takes the mass driver, destroying a Covenant battle-cruiser. This buys the Pillar of Autumn enough time to escape Reach, and Six courageously fends off hordes of Covenant soldiers until he is overwhelmed and killed. The Pillar of Autumn arrives at Halo, and six years later, Reach has begun recovering from the Covenant invasion. This is Halo Reach, the final of the Halo games that would be developed by Bungie Studios. Originally released in September 2010, Halo Reach quickly became recognised as the best Halo instalment. It remained available only for the Xbox 360 until joined the ranks of the Master Chief Collection for PC in December 2019, and since its launch, I’ve had the chance to go through the campaign of the first Halo title on PC since the days of Halo 2 Vista.

Halo Reach is best remembered for a sophisticated and engaging multiplayer component, which was praised for its depth and customisation, with the campaign being regarded as a bit less notable than previous titles. Indeed, Noble Six’s path through the game takes him into operations that are only loosely connected as the Covenant begin their invasion of Reach, and in conjunction with the gradual but noticeable death of Noble team’s other members, this can create a sense of disconnect. However, this hectic, impromptu manner also lends itself to Halo Reach‘s thematic elements: the game was meant to showcase the hopelessness and futility of the efforts to stop a Covenant invasion at Reach. As players move through the missions, the already cold and uninviting atmosphere of Reach becomes even more hostile as the Covenant make their presence felt. What begins as a routine operation turns into a desperate push to repel the Covenant and, upon the understanding that the UNSC is outmatched, resistance turns into buying people enough time to escape and also, delivering a construct that ultimately proves instrumental in ending the Human-Covenant War. Halo Reach‘s message is that behind every hero, is a hero. Master Chief’s role in the Human-Covenant War was only possible because Noble Team demonstrated exemplary courage and resilience to complete their mission after discovering the presence of Covenant forces. Even in the face of overwhelming odds and the loss of squad members, Noble Six is committed to the mission, and so, despite making the ultimate sacrifice along with the others, Noble Team ultimately shows that there are some scenarios where in order to win the war, some battles may need to be lost along the way. The chaotic, disconnected missions of Halo Reach therefore are present for a reason: to both show the extent of Noble Team’s heroics in a range of situations, and also show that in war, there isn’t always going to be a story that can be neatly sectioned into a beginning, middle and end. Through its campaign, Halo Reach shows a much more sombre, serious view of conflict and the sacrifices it entails.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • This screenshot of me in Halo Reach‘s opening mission, carrying the MA37 Assault Rifle marks the first time I’ve posted anything Halo related to this blog in nearly seven years. The last time I wrote about Halo, I was contemplating the shutdown of the Halo 2 Vista servers; this was a time when I was on the verge of wrapping up my undergraduate thesis. Halo 4 had just been out for a few months then, and I still recall watching TheRadBrad’s videos of Halo 4‘s campaign. Halo 4 won’t arrive for a while, but it’s time to turn my attention to Halo Reach‘s campaign.

  • Nine years and three months after Halo Reach was originally released for the Xbox 360, I’m finally stepping into the campaign on PC. My journey began on the shortest day of the year – I had deliberately chosen to wait a few weeks after Halo Reach released on PC to start the party, on the virtue that this would allow me to capitalise on the Steam Winter Sale. While The Master Chief Collection (understandably) did not receive a discount, purchasing The Master Chief Collection allowed me to also level up my Steam rank.

  • The first mission of Halo Reach involves investigating a communications array that had gone offline. While Noble Team is expecting insurgent forces to behind the unusual occurrence, it becomes very clear that there are other forces at work. The events of Halo Reach occur in July 2552; humanity had first encountered the Covenant in 2525, and so, the UNSC prepares itself for the worst when the Covenant arrive at Reach, a major human colony with sizeable titanium mines, shipyards and UNSC facilities.

  • For me, the go-to weapon in Halo Reach is the M392 Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR). With fifteen shots per magazine, low recoil and high accuracy, the DMR is the best weapon for medium-to-long range engagements. It is superbly effective against all Covenant foes in the campaign, although its main drawback is that ammunition for it is comparatively scarce.

  • Having not played any Halo on PC since 2013, I admit that it took me a bit of time to get back into the swing of things. Initially, I configured Halo Reach with my keyboard and mouse configuation for Battlefield (so, right mouse to ADS, ‘G’ to throw grenades and ‘Q’ to switch grenades), but this proved surprisingly cumbersome. After fiddling around, I reverted to my old setup for Halo 2 (right mouse to throw grenades, middle mouse to ADS, and ‘G’ to switch grenades). It appears that muscle memory has endured, and I found myself doing much better.

  • Dual-wielding is absent in Halo Reach: it was a major component of Halo 2 and Halo 3, allowing players to essentially double their firepower at the expense of an increased reload time and a cumbersome weapon swap. While a cool feature, Bungie would find that dual-wielding negatively impacted weapon balance, and that most competitive matches were fought using weapons that were two-handed. To offset the removal of dual-wielding, weapons that were formerly dual-wielded were improved.

  • One of the more visible aspects of Halo Reach is that, as the campaign progresses, the environments gradually become more apocalyptic and intimidating as the Covenant increase their presence on Reach. Early in Halo Reach, players get a good sense of what the planet typically feels like, and it becomes clear that even on an ordinary day, the different atmospheric properties and space around Reach make the world feel completely different to the skies on Earth.

  • When players encounter Wraiths, the Covenant tank, they are given a H-165 Target Locator, which marks a ground target for close-air support. On my first shot at the mission, I managed to destroy both Wraiths with a single strike to earn a nifty achievement. Traditionally, I dealt with Wraiths either by hammering them with rockets, or else closed the distance to board the Wraith and commandeer its firepower for myself.

  • Since 343 Industries ported Halo Reach into The Master Chief Collection, the PC version has support for up to 4K resolutions and has made considerable improvements to the textures and rendering so that the game looks crisp and sharp even on contemporary monitors. At 1080p, I’m running the game with enhanced visuals, and while Halo Reach may not have the same fidelity as a more recent title, the game certainly looks polished and clean in the graphics department.

  • At the Sword Base, I fight Hunters for the first time in Halo Reach. These enemies were among the toughest in a given Halo game: when I first encountered them in Halo CE back during my days as a high school student, I still remember that on my first encounter without a rocket launcher, I wasted upwards of a quarter hour and my entire reserve of ammunition trying to down them. It wasn’t until later that I realised the exposed orange flesh on a Hunter was vulnerable to damage, and since then, I’ve always dealt with Hunters by blasting them there with a pistol or shotgun.

  • The end of Sword Base takes Noble Six to a familiar atrium: this area ended up being used as one of the multiplayer maps. In the campaign, the facility has been breached by the Covenant, and I was able to find a M41 SPNKR Rocket Launcher. Halo CE and Halo 2‘s rocket launchers were easily the most powerful weapons on a per-shot basis in their respective games, and while one was limited by the ammunition they could carry, having one on hand meant that dealing with enemy armour became trivially easy. At Sword Base, there are no tanks to deal with, but Noble Six will have plenty of Banshees to deal with, and enough rockets can even tear a Phantom apart.

  • After clearing the interior of Sword Base, I take a moment to regroup before pressing forwards with the mission. I’ve got the M45 Shotgun here: compared to the M90, the M45 has a tighter grouping, increased range and higher damage per shot, but the trade-off is that it only holds six shots, compared to the twelve it once held in Halo CE and Halo 2. Upon reaching the top of Sword Base, Noble Six must grab a rocket launcher and eliminate as many Banshees as possible. Care must be taken up here, since careless use of the rocket launcher can result in a quick death.

  • I played the first two missions on the Winter Solstice and the day after, during which I was celebrating 冬至 (jyutping dung1 zi3, the Chinese Winter Solstice) with family. After this, I returned to work, but with the Christmas season upon me, I spent most of the afternoon of Christmas Eve going through Halo Reach. At this point in time, I had reached the third mission, a nighttime sniping mission not unlike the start of Halo CE‘s third mission: the goal here was to recon the strength and positioning of the Covenant numbers.

  • While night missions typically entail a stealth aspect, the Spartans of Halo are not particularly suited for stealth: all engagements in Halo inevitably go loud. Weapons in Halo Reach do not have suppressors, further accentuating the idea that blasting through a scenario is the best route to go. Being accustomed to this is play-style is why I typically fare so poorly in stealth-driven missions: a first person shooter without an emphasis on shooting is hardly a shooter.

  • In order to fight in dark environments, players have night vision capabilities built into their visors. This ability replaces the flashlight that Master Chief had, and is a bit easier to use, since it illuminates the entire screen rather than the area underneath the beam. This ability helped me in the third mission, and after blasting Covenent as I moved through human settlements and reaching the end of the mission, I ended up going out into the cold of Christmas Eve for a steak dinner at a local Chinese bistro, before taking a drive to enjoy the Christmas lights around town.

  • On Christmas Day itself, after the traditional morning gift exchange, I moved into the fourth mission, which entails disabling Covenant assets that have been impeding UNSC air support. This mission marks the opening of the full-scale battle against the Covenant, and while humanity will be defeated, it does feel like humanity stands a chance when Spartans are present; armed with the M319 Grenade Launcher, better known as the “pro pipe” for the difficulty one encounters in wielding this properly, players can decimate scores of Grunts and Jackals.

  • The Covenant Type-31 Needle Rifle is their counterpart to the DMR and stands in for the Covenant Carbine. While lacking its smaller cousin’s automatic fire and tracking ability, the Needle Rifle is a precision weapon that can also super-combine to create devastating explosions in its victims. Where the DMR ammunition is in short supply, the Needle Rifle will work very well in a pinch, and this quickly became my favourite Covenant weapon to utilise.

  • Halo Reach has both the Type-51 Plasma Repeater and the Type-25 Plasma Rifle. Both weapons seem similar in function, but the Plasma Repeater has several distinguishing characteristics: its projectile velocity is slightly higher, deals slightly less damage and fires fewer rounds, but never overheats owing to its ability to vent automatically. As the weapon is fired, its rate of fire decreases. Hence, for most close-quarters situations where one is looking to disable shields, the Plasma Rifle is superior, whereas for more general-purpose combat, the Plasma Repeater is preferred owing to its versatility.

  • The fourth mission entails destroying Covenant anti-air emplacements and a shield spire. There are small shielded grates one must get through, but once these are defeated, any sort of damage will be sufficient to wreck these turrets. Once the shield spire is weakened, a UNSC frigate will descend upon it and ready its MAC, prompting Jorge to wonder why MAC rounds are approved for use in the atmosphere. He’s likely referring to the fact that firing from a Frigate while in the atmosphere may have adverse effects on the engines, but this is a moot point; after the frigate destroys the spire, it is annihilated by the cloaked Covenant Super-Carrier, Long Night of The Solace.

  • After beating the fourth mission in the morning, I went for a brief lunch, then stepped out for a walk. After Christmas biscuits and hot chocolate on my return, I resumed the Halo Reach party, finally reaching the secret Sabre base for what is probably my favourite mission in all of Halo Reach. The level opens with Noble Team storming the grounds leading to the base, and besides the exciting gameplay in this mission, I also know this level as the first time I’d ever played Halo Reach‘s campaign.

  • On the evening of that May LAN party concurrent with the local anime convention, my friends had begun arriving after I had wrapped up The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, but it was still too early to fire up the grill and make burgers. However, we had the right number of people to co-op, and one of my buddies wanted to try Long Night of The Solace out. After we stormed the grounds to the base and died numerous times on account of the fact that neither of us are console gamers, we finally reached the launch pad and lifted off into space to square off against the Covenant there.

  • At the LAN party, I believe we had just boarded the Covenant Corvette, when enough people had arrived for us to start cooking. We put the game aside and prepared to enjoy dinner. A massive thunderstorm had just rolled through the area, as well, and when we finished our burgers, the only thing left on the agenda was Halo Reach‘s multiplayer. Fast forwards to the present, and as the sun set, I finally returned here. It feels great to be back here after nearly ten years, and the controls for controlling the YSS-1000 Sabre, a multi-purpose UNSC fighter that could operate in low orbit, as well as deep space. Armed with a pair of 30 mm cannons and missiles, the Saber also possesses powerful shields.

  • The ultra-dense 30 mm rounds are suited for dropping shields, and the missiles themselves are excellent against unshielded targets. The performance of the Sabre in Halo Reach would suggest that Sabres could hold off Covenant forces reasonably well, and indeed, Halo lore pegs Sabres as being excellent weapons against the Covenant counterparts, although due to the secret nature of the Sabre programme, only a few hundred were ever manufactured, and these excellent space superiority fighters never became mass produced. With PC controls, flying a Sabre was a joy, and I had considerably less difficulty with the Covenant forces than I had during co-op.

  • I thus boarded the Covenant corvette, fought my way through the bridge and cleared it, allowing UNSC forces to commence boarding. The plan was to bring a bomb on board and then detonate it while the corvette was refuelling from the Long Night of The Solace. Covenant environments look amazing by the time of Halo Reach, featuring distinctly advanced alien architecture. In Halo CE and Halo 2, more primitive graphics left more to the imagination, and I personally found Covenant environments to be more dull.

  • Once the UNSC forces board, they’ll bring with them the typical human weapons, and it feels great to top up on DMR rounds. I’ve found that the assault rifle performs reasonably well at close quarters against unshielded targets like Grunts and Jackals, but beyond this, it takes more than a full magazine to down the shields on an Elite at normal difficulty. As such, I see the assault rifle as being a less-effective plasma rifle, intended to help one close the distance and get in for a melee kill. With the ‘F’ key bound to melee, these have traditionally been my favourite way to get kills against Elites and Brutes.

  • The “bomb” that the UNSC forces utilise to destroy the Long Night of The Solace is a slip-space drive: by creating a slip-space rupture, the device can forcibly transport matter in the affected area elsewhere to create desctruction. The human drives are known as Shaw-Fujikawa engines and operate by accelerating particles to generate miniature black holes that act as a short cut of sorts between two points. In Halo lore, humanity developed the Shaw-Fujikawa engines independently of any ancient technology, which is an impressive feat: the Covenant’s drives are based off Forerunner designs.

  • Once the Covenant corvette is clear of hostiles, it’s time to evacuate and let the makeshift bomb do its magic. Unfortunately, the timed detonator has become damaged, and there are no vehicles left on the corvette that are flight-worthy. Jorge stays behind to manually detonate the bomb, sacrificing himself to defend Reach. He throws Noble Six out of the hangar and sets the bomb off to destroy the Super-Carrier, but unbeknownst to him, the Super-Carrier was only the tip of the iceberg, and a full Covenant armada has arrived at Reach.

  • Halo Reach suddenly goes from being about repelling a Covenant invasion to evacuating the planet and extracting an item critical to the UNSC. Back in New Alexandria, a large metropolis on Reach, Noble Six and the rest of the squad are tasked with assisting UNSC forces to help the civilians evacuate ahead of the main invading force. New Alexandria is an iconic location in Halo Reach, with its high-tech, ultra-modern skyline: the multiplayer map, Boardwalk, is famous as being the location of the showdown between Arbiter and Ch33f’s “n00bs” in Arby n’ The Chief‘s “Digital Fruitcakes” episode.

  • Brutes make an appearance at this stage of the campaign: these ursine-like beasts were first introduced in Halo 2, being savages that were essentially slower, more durable Elites with a tendency to charge at players once all of their allies were killed. While some have wondered why Brutes show up in Halo Reach, the answer is that they were deployed to assist with the invasion, being powerful shock troops that were both more resilient and expendable than the Elites.

  • The arrival of the Brutes means that I got to fire the Type-25 Spiker, which fire super-heated tungsten rods. While hitting harder than the assault rifle, the Spiker’s rounds have a much lower muzzle velocity: human weapons in the classic Halo games are hit-scan, and immediately deal damage to targets that are hit. Hit-scan weapons are those that project a ray out from the weapon into world-space, and then if the ray intersects with any entity that can be damaged, that entity will lose health equivalent to whatever the damage value of the weapon projecting the ray was. This is a very computationally inexpensive approach, and results in weapons that have no drop or travel time.

  • The observant reader will note that for the most part, I almost always run with the “sprint” armour ability. Armour abilities were first introduced in Halo Reach to specialise a Spartan’s abilities. The base “sprint” specialisation allows one to briefly run faster, although players can also equip a jetpack for aerial travel, active camouflage to conceal themselves from enemies, a hologram that acts as a distraction, a drop shield that provides temporary cover and recover health, and the infamous armour lock, which renders one invincible for a short period of time. All armour abilities have their utility, but sprint allows one to escape difficult situations and is generally the most versatile. There are only a few places in the campaign that require the use of a jetpack.

  • When Brute Chieftains appear, they wield the Type-2 Gravity Hammer. These weapons were once simple war hammers that the Brutes used, and were modified by the Covenant to incorporate a powerful anti-gravity drive that emits a kinetic blast. The weapon is the Brute counterpart to the Elite’s Energy Sword, holding unique advantages and disadvantages over one of Halo‘s most iconic weapons.

  • One of the most noticeable things about Halo Reach was its soundtrack: while still composed by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, who had done the earlier Halo soundtracks, Reach‘s OST is much more solemn in tone, making use of much slower tempos and choral pieces to create a sense of melancholy. The music captures the subdued mood of Reach’s fall well, lacking the intensity and upbeat energy that was prevalent in the earlier Halo soundtracks. However, there are also some spirited pieces in Halo Reach‘s soundtrack that accompany the action-oriented moments.

  • The second of the missions in New Alexandria takes Noble Six to some of the most detailed and visually impressive locations in the game as they work to clear out buildings and provide as much support as possible to UNSC forces and civilians alike. The mission is unique in that the order in which players are asked to destroy Covenant jamming devices are randomly assigned: on my first run, I started at the hospital, moved to the night club and then finished at the penthouse.

  • The night club has some impressive lighting effects, especially considering that the original Xbox 360 version was similarly detailed. The Master Chief Collection‘s version of Halo Reach is said to have been only given some improvements with respect to visual quality, and aside from things like more sophisticated lighting techniques and improved texture resolution, plus updating assets so they can be properly rendered at up to 4K, the graphics have otherwise remained unchanged.

  • Here, I pilot the UH-144 Falcon: this is the only time during the campaign where I was able to fly in an atmosphere, and I was unsuccessful in trying to commandeer Banshees. The Falcon handles quite unlike any vehicle I’d piloted in Halo previously, acting similarly to a helicopter in its flight characteristics. The campaign version of the Falcon has a 20 mm autocannon, and this weapon excels both in anti-personnel and anti-armour roles; the high-explosive rounds have some splash damage, and so, can be useful for dealing with groups of foot mobiles. In the air, Banshees stand no chance against it. In the campaign, the Falcon has a unique ability to lock its altitude, making it much easier to fly.

  • I never did bother to find out what would happen in the mission if one were to lose their Falcon, although I imagine that Halo Reach would have mechanisms to ensure the mission was not lost. Half-Life 2 outright punished players for losing mission-critical assets, and I vividly recall the days of losing my scout car to the train in the Highway 17 mission, netting me a “failure to preserve mission critical resources” game over.

  • It turns out that the multiplayer map, Reflection, is modelled after the penthouse segment of the mission, and the penthouse itself was modelled after Halo 2‘s Ivory Tower. Compared to the utilitarian Ivory Tower, Reflection is more intricately detailed, feeling like an indoor zen garden with Japanese and Chinese influences: the level designer is said to have Asianed It Up™, and the unique aesthetic of the map, coupled with its iconic and familiar layout, means that this is probably going to be my favourite of the multiplayer maps.

  • Once all of the Covenant jamming devices are destroyed, Noble Team is recalled to extract critical materials from Dr. Halsey. The Covenant begin glassing Reach, and the Spartans make their way to a shelter. However, Spartan Kat is killed by a Covenant Sniper, and three days later, once the Covenant have left the area, the remaining members of Noble Team re-emerge and prepare for one final mission.

  • Here, I pick up the Type-52 Special Applications Rifle (Focus Rifle) and wield it against distant foes. While similar to the Beam Rifle in earlier Halo instalments, the Focus Rifle fires a continuous beam that takes a few moments to damage enemies. Its unusual operation makes it a weapon that is only useful under certain conditions, and the beam itself actually has a limited range.

  • It is only this late in the game that I’m able to helm a Scorpion MBT. The main tank of the UNSC, the Scorpion is a force multiplier in the hands of a Spartan, and used it to clear off the Covenant forces standing between Noble Six and Dr. Halsey. The damage to Reach from the glassing is apparent here: the atmosphere has taken on a brown-orange hue consistent with that of a massive forest fire, and it feels like the apocalypse here.

  • It is under these desperate conditions that the remnants of Noble Team must fight their way to Sword Base and reach Dr. Halsey, who is located in a research facility deep underground. Of the Halo titles I’ve played, backtracking was also present in Halo CE, where players would go through Halo’s Control Room and the canyons leading there twice, as well as fight through the Pillar of Autumn twice. In Reach, players visit Sword Base and its surroundings twice; like Halo CE, returning to the base sees it under completely different circumstances.

  • At this point in time, I’ve got no idea as to when Halo CE will be added to The Master Chief Collection, but with closed betas occurring at present, it looks as though February or March could be reasonable release dates for the PC version of Halo CE. The original Halo: Combat Evolved was released in 2001, and I played through it during my days as a high school student. I’ll reminisce more about those days once Halo CE comes out for PC, and return my attention back to Halo Reach for the present.

  • After taking an elevator into a vast subterranean cave, Noble Six and the others must defend against waves of Covenant soldiers who are determined to seize the Forerunner artifact. Dr. Halsey had been studying the artifact and is very nearly complete with its analysis, prompting Noble Team to lay down automatic turrets to help with the counterattack. These turrets can be taken offline with enough damage, but during my run, I managed to keep all of them up. During this skirmish, I attempted to board a Wraith, thinking to seize its firepower for myself, but after some difficulty, was forced to destroy it.

  • With the Covenant repelled for now, Noble Six takes possession of the AI matrix holding Cortana and evacuates. Sword Base is destroyed, denying the Covenant their prize, and the final mission of Halo Reach becomes a desperate race to the Pillar of Autumn. After a brief drive, the road becomes blocked, and Six must proceed on foot, eventually reaching the docking area. Here, I made use of a sniper rifle to pick off distant foes before setting off in search of a more versatile weapon for combat.

  • Somewhere along the way, I acquired a Model 6 Grindell/Galilean Nonlinear Rifle (more commonly known as the Spartan Laser), an immensely powerful laser capable of ridiculous destructive power. A Spartan Laser can punch holes through organic matter, blasting through multiple armoured vehicles and exiting with enough power to grievously wound infantry on the other side. It is so powerful that even Phantoms can be punctured. To offset its incredible power, the Spartan Laser has a charge time before it can be fired, a low rate of fire, and only has enough battery power for four shots.

  • In the final mission, I also had the chance to try out the Type-52 Plasma Launcher, which fires homing bolts of plasma that globe up and stick to their targets before exploding, similarly to plasma grenades. The weapon is fun to use and quite damaging, being effective against all enemies in the campaign, although like the Spartan Laser, the weapon is limited by its low capacity. Here, I fight my way to the Pillar of Autumn and manage to deliver the AI Matrix to Captain Keyes. When Noble Six notices Emile is killed, Six opts to stay behind and continue manning the mass driver to provide covering fire.

  • Noble Six manages to deliver the package to Captain Keyes of the Pillar of Autumn. This “package” is the matrix for the AI, Cortana, and the success of this delivery plays a major role in the remainder of the Human-Covenant War. After Emile is impaled by an Elite (and dies in the most spectacular manner of anyone in Noble Team), Noble Six decides to stay behind and man the mass driver in order to keep the skies clear for the Pillar of Autumn’s departure.

  • After nine years, I finally get to sit behind the controls of the mass driver and merrily blasted away incoming Covenant forces. It’s been a month since I’ve completed Halo Reach‘s campaign, and a full month into the new decade, things are beginning to settle down now. At this point in time, High School Fleet The Movie has been in Japanese Cinema for nearly two weeks, and I’ve been immensely fortunate in that Anime News Network has not yet sent anyone to tear this one down. This could be in part owing to rumours the film is still plainly incomplete in some areas, and if true, it could mean an earlier BD release, as they would cut the theatrical run shorter to push the improved version in the home release.

  • With the knowledge that Anime News Network does not have a shot at dissuading others from watching High School Fleet The Movie for the present, I can rest a little easier. Back in Halo Reach, I took the shot to destroy the Covenant cruiser and then sat back to watch the closing cinematic, then survived briefly against the Covenant onslaught to end the game. Thus, after nine years, I’ve finally had an opportunity to go through Halo Reach and experience the story for myself, and I can say that it was an unexpected, but completely welcome. With Halo Reach‘s campaign in the books, I do see myself revisiting the campaign through co-op play, and I’ll also look to take a shot at the multiplayer.

Having now completed Halo Reach‘s campaign, this marks the first time I’ve properly played a Halo game for PC since 2007’s Halo 2 Vista. Although that was counted as a failure amongst some circles, I derived hundreds of hours of enjoyment out of Halo 2‘s campaign and multiplayer. To be able to go back now and relive a game that was integral to my youth is such a blessing, and so, when news of The Master Chief Collection‘s arrival on PC became a fact, I was ecstatic. The first instalment, Halo Reach, was marked by a series of delays in its development and release, but for me, this simply demonstrated 343 Industries’ commitment to excellence. The finished product shows this commitment: while I’ve encountered frame drops in Halo Reach, and saw a bug that prevented one mission from loading, the remainder of Halo Reach is a masterfully crafted. Aside from minor visual updates and support for high resolutions, Halo Reach is otherwise a 1:1 reproduction of the original game, conferring the same incredible experience that players in 2010 would have had upon spinning up Halo Reach for the first time. This sense of wonder and excitement has translated very well into the PC environment, and beyond the aforementioned issues of performance and loading, the PC version of The Master Chief Collection offers a chance for those who’ve played the originals to relive timeless experiences. For folks like myself, who are predominantly PC-focused, The Master Chief Collection provides a chance to finally see why the Halo games of Bungie’s era are counted as some of the greatest of all time. However, Halo Reach‘s campaign is merely the beginning of this great journey – I have yet to fully experience the refreshed multiplayer component and cooperative modes. Beyond Halo Reach‘s full offerings, The Master Chief Collection will be bringing back each and every Halo instalment from Halo CE, all the way to Halo 4: the Halo games are massive, and I am incredibly excited to have this opportunity to go through the games that defined my youth.

2 responses to “Review and Reflections on The Master Chief Collection: Halo Reach

  1. Tpaul Homdrom February 1, 2020 at 16:17

    I loved your in-depth look at this masterful gem of a game. I have such fond memories of all the Bungie Halo games, having played through all of them in co-op with my brother on the Xbox and 360 back when they were first released. And he, I, and our friends spent countless hours in multiplayer, especially in Halo 2 (the glitches and super-jumps were absolutely hilarious additions to a totally bonkers multiplayer experience. Perfect for LAN parties, which we had plenty of). I always loved how these games weren’t like the wider crowd of FPS games, but had really dense campaigns with incredible, breathtaking stories through imaginative, marvelous worlds. The Halo series still has some of my favorite weapon and vehicle designs in video games, and not just visual design; all of the weapons feel so unique and real, with iconic sound effects, visual effects, and other forms of feedback. I love these games, even though I haven’t played them in ages. With me gearing up to finally get a proper gaming PC, it might be the right time to revisit them through the Master Chief Collection.


    • infinitezenith February 8, 2020 at 23:24

      Halo, together with Half-Life 2, Sim City 4, 007 Agent Under Fire and 007 Nightfire, were the games of my childhood. I was ecstatic to learn that The Master Chief Collection would be coming to PC: I’ve never been a console gamer, so I missed the original Halo titles on Xbox. However, similarly with your friends, my mates used to host LAN parties where we would system-link four Xboxes together and then play 8 v 8 on many a Sunday afternoon. Of course, these were just the multiplayer sessions: my mates weren’t interested in the campaigns.

      My experience with the Halo campaigns extends to the original Halo, which I had a disk for, and when Halo 2 came out for Windows Vista, I picked it up, as well. Both games had incredibly immersive campaigns that were well-done. With the The Master Chief Collection now on PC, this is the time to grab them: the prices are incredible, and quite honestly, grabbing it on Steam for 40 USD is well worth it, considering we’re getting about 300 USD worth of Halo here. I’m especially excited to see the campaigns for Halo and Halo 2 remastered; if an opportunity arises, I would be happy to co-op with you!

      Liked by 1 person

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