Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Release Date: 10/27/2015
Available Exclusively On
It has been a long time since Halo was first released. Most people may not even remember it, but it was a series that almost never saw the light of day. Halo: Combat Evolved was a well-made sci-fi epic first-person shooter turned into a multi-million dollar sci-fi odyssey spanning dozens of comics, books, TV shows, and almost a movie. The first three games were absolutely fantastic with Halo 2 being the best of the bunch. With revolutionary multiplayer and combat mechanics, Halo has been copied countless times over and over again. But how far can a series take something revolutionary and continue to build on it? Halo had three spin-offs with ODST and Reach expanding beyond Master Chief and Wars being an RTS.
Halo 5 is the direct sequel to Halo 4 with Cortana’s rampancy going off the charts and team Osiris trying to track down Blue Team which is Master Chief and co. The story will make zero sense unless everyone has been playing the games recently and even reading the literature. The story has become so complex and involved that the games can’t tell the whole thing anymore. I didn’t even make much sense of it and was lost most of the time. With the story out the window for most, what we have left is just the gameplay.
Halo 5 has a solid campaign but it is forgettable and too similar to previous games. With the added Prometheans from Halo 4 returning and remade Covenant it is definitely a strange game to accept. All your Halo vehicles are here albeit remade, and even the new mix of UNSC, Covenant, and Promethean weapons can make your head spin. The weapons are rather unique and they all feel great and are well balanced. You are forced to switch weapons based on the situation as each enemy plays differently and requires different tactics. This has been a staple of Halo gameplay and it is at its pinnacle here.
Missions are sadly unvaried with just on foot trotting through various landscapes, getting on vehicles here and there (the least amount of vehicle riding out of any Halo game) and that’s about it. You get new jetpacks and a Spartan Charge and Stomp move as Locke when you play Osiris team. Master Chief feels like his same old self but is only played a couple of levels in the game. This feels more like a spin-off and more on the lines of ODST and Reach rather than the main Halo game. The campaign has 14 chapters and will take around 8-12 hours to finish. Once you do you’re on to multiplayer and customizing your character.
Halo 5 introduces card packs to rake in microtransaction-loving fools this time around. These packs are perks and extra customization options. There’s a lot to customize such as your armor, emblem, narrator voice, weapon skins, and some other things. Outside of this multiplayer Halo has been so involved and similar through each game that it all blurs together. I’m not a Halo multiplayer veteran or expert, but I can only tell you it’s fun and isn’t less fun than other Halo games. There are plenty of maps and modes to keep you busy for the rest of the year. Halo is its own beast and carves its own path in the FPS multiplayer landscape. It may not be for everyone as it doesn’t feel like the military shooters just like with Gears of War. It’s difficult, there are people who play this professionally online, or have played since the first game and you will die more times than you can count.
Outside of multiplayer, there’s 4 player co-op and Halo Forge which allows you to build multiplayer maps. I honestly didn’t dabble in this too much as I’m not very good at it, but it’s very robust and map creators will be in heaven here. Let’s get sad here and talk about what I didn’t like. The visuals were extremely disappointing. With this being THE flagship Xbox franchise the graphics were more like they were ported over from Xbox 360 and touched up. The textures are fairly low resolution and the model detail wasn’t too great. This game doesn’t look too much better than Halo 4 outside of lighting effects and draw distance. The game doesn’t even support HDR which was a real letdown as well. The game just isn’t much of a sequel and Halo needs a serious reboot at this point.
Overall, if you hate Halo or are tired of it this won’t change your mind at all. Halo has declined over the years and doesn’t retain the quality it once had or the chokehold on the FPS genre. This is far from the king that it used to be and needs a pass over with fresh minds and new ideas. Stay for the multiplayer, but most people will play this game and forget about it.