Halo Reach

Halo reaches the beginning of the end.

Set just before the start of Halo CE, the planet Reach is one of the last remaining Human strongholds during the Human-Covenant war. There, Spartan team ‘Noble’ begrudgingly welcomes a new member, Six. Sent to investigate a comms relay that’s gone offline, Noble discovers the Covenant are on Reach and about to launch a massive attack. Against overwhelming odds, Noble team tries to prevent Reach becoming Humanity’s last stand.

Six the Spartan is basically Master Chief without a Cortana sidekick. And the rest of Noble team are straight out of the “Aliens is great” playbook. The gruff commander, the no-nonsense female, the wiseacre, the muscle-bound heavy weapons dude, and the one with the skull painted on his helmet which he never removes to make clear he’s Badass…

The early levels follow Halo’s tried and tested and tired routine of follow a pathway to the Covenant, clear them out then defend it from waves, repeat. But even though the first few hours are repetitive, you start to realise we’re not winning this, that each battle is making the situation worse as the scale of the invasion is revealed. Six picked the wrong day to join Noble.

With the Elites taking centre stage again, doing that annoying side-stepping you-can’t-hit-me move, the battlefield is a dangerous place to be, and they’re aptly backed up by Brutes doing their battering-ram runs and Grunts are actually a problem too, appearing in huge numbers that swarm. Its exhilarating and unforgiving, and even in the cut-scenes the pressure never lets up as things get worse, amping you up for the next round of against-the-odds missions.

It’s so brutal I must have died in Reach more than all the previous games combined. Yet at one point, Six hits the ground having fallen from space, and just dusts themselves off. How come I keep dying then?! And how come no matter what they get blasted out of, fall on to or land in during a cut-scene, there’s always a weapon nearby but when I run out of ammo, there’s nothing?! Six can also plug in a single armour upgrade at a time - speed, jetpack, hologram, camo etc. - a frontline soldier facing overwhelming odds and they couldn’t stretch to more than one USB socket?