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With over 1 billion games played online, Bungie has thoroughly convinced the world that Halo 3 multiplayer is a successful shooter, and that it resonates with millions of people. But amazing success should not stand in the way of innovation, and Bungie appears once again ready to bring gamers the Halo feel, with new innovative twists.
Enter Halo: Reach multiplayer beta…
To start off, it would probably be in my interest to say I do not like Halo multiplayer. Growing up playing Goldeneye 64 trained me to appreciate a shooter with heavy, well-defined physics. Halo has always been too floaty and random for my taste – save those physics for my Smash Brothers thank you very much. While Halo: Reach still has the similar physics, the interaction between your character and the world gives you more control over the ensuing randomness of space combat involving purple guns. In previous Halo titles every match devolved into players either jumping around like idiots, or camping on weapons drops and deployable traps (bubble shields, power drains, etc).
Halo: Reach’s additions provide a satisfactory remedy to this problem: The inclusion of specific, class exclusive abilities, and the exclusion of those bubble shields, and alike. The special abilities, of which you choose one of before spawning, are:
Active Camouflage: Much like the camouflage in Halo 3
Lockdown: A stationary invincibility
Sprint: Ability to run
All abilities are of limited use, and are activated by the right bumper. These armor abilities alone give a more tactical feel to the combat, and makes Halo more enjoyable for me.
In my experience, the new abilities are powerful tools to encounter those moments I’ve hated in previous Halo titles. Depending on which ability you have, one on one battles become more of a game of chess rather than a twitch-fest of jumping non-sense. Every movement requires deliberate planning, and when you die, you know it was because you did not use your abilities effectively – a far cry from traditional halo. The game is now less about bullets and more about your ability to think on your feet, and to remember what works in which situation.
The controls scheme is also different, and this will no doubt take some time to get used to. Harkening back to the Halo: Combat Evolved, there is no dual wielding, so the left trigger will always remain grenades. Left bumper, as I mentioned, is armour ability, right bumper is now melee, and B is to change grenades. Why the change? Who knows, but I’m growing to like it. The bumpers are generally under-utilized in games, and I think fits well into Halo.
While there is no built in, experience based unlock system like Call of Duty (unlocking guns and perks), you will earn “commendations” which you can use as credits to outfit your character based on your performance in each match. This is a nice incentive if you are into customizing your character.
So far, Halo: Reach multiplayer is fantastic, and a fun romp for short bursts of mayhem. The armor abilities are exactly what this franchise needed to get my attention. With such great inclusions to the multiplayer, I’m becoming increasingly excited to see what Bungie can do to re-kindle the excitement that the original Halo provided in the single player campaign of Reach. Maybe this time they will include a decent story.
There, I managed to squeeze a story complaint to even a multiplayer beta impressions preview.