As a huge fan of the franchise, Halo 5 is certainly a game I have been waiting for in high anticipation since the end of Halo 4 in 2012. It is particularly special, being the first Halo game made specifically for the Xbox One console. I have had the game for a week now and have to say it is different, but it has impressed me.
From a well-known game like Halo, as gamers, we tend to expect big things. And big things are definitely a main selling point for this title. To begin with, the story. Halo 4 ended with the splitting up of the Master Chief and his famous ally Cortana. This gave the developers a lot of freedom on where to take the story next. They decided to make Master Chief a possible villain (in reaction to the loss of his companion), leading him to be hunted by Spartan Locke, one of the new playable characters in the game. This is the main way in which the game is advertised but I have to say there is a much bigger story unravelled as you play through this campaign. This added an element of excitement when you realise the scale of the campaign, and the impact it has.
The story does a good job in flowing in a particular way, switching between the stories of Master Chief and Locke in a way that makes sense. The levels are also varied in a good way ranging from close quarters to big open battles. This variety kept me engaged in the story all the way to the big reveal at the end. The campaign itself takes you to a variety of different locations including the elite home world of Sangheili where you run into the familiar face of the Arbiter. I liked how we got to revisit some previous characters to see what they had been doing since we last saw them.
However, I believe to understand the full story and the events going on in the background of this story, it focuses heavily on Halo lore that we may not have seen in previous games making it difficult for some players to have context on the current situation. In addition to this, gamers were also restricted on learning about characters in both Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris as the game didn’t particularly explain why they were there or even who they were. It would have been nice to see some more dialogue between the characters so we could learn more about their personality and how they fit in to the story.
This didn’t take away from the gameplay however. As we can expect from the next generation console, Halo 5 had a number of notable improvements. I first noticed that the game was a lot smoother to play, and the enhanced game engine allowed a lot more to be happening at a given moment. This added to the atmosphere in big battle missions. Shooting on the ground with your team while hundreds of banshees and forerunners fought in the air above was a particularly memorable moment. Alongside this, the introduction of new spartan abilities such as the ‘spartan charge’ and the ‘ground pound’ created new ways to dispatch enemies and added variety to tactics.
Multiplayer is also a big part of Halo and in my opinion this is one of the best Halo multiplayers that I have ever seen. ‘Warzone’ in particular is a radical change, but a good change. This 24 player game mode combines the tactics of objective based gameplay with the brilliance of the classic big team battle. Players can choose whether they want to capture bases, complete the side missions, or take on the opposing spartans head to head – the choice really is up to you. Also, the introduction of the card based system allows players to play how they want to, using the vehicles and weapons that they love and disregarding those they don’t. It really is great to see gamers playing how they want to play, all of which are effective if you have the skill. If Warzone isn’t your thing though, ‘the arena’ allows players to return to the much-loved 4v4 game types which again are made brilliantly, and work much like they did in Halo 4 with the added spartan features.
Halo 5 has changed the way we play Halo, but it has changed it in a good way. The enhanced game mechanics simply add to a franchise that was already brilliant. The story could do with some minor improvements but despite this it’s still fast-flowing, beautiful and enjoyable. The multiplayer holds true to the classic Halo feel even with the new system and is definitely something I’ll be playing for a long time. I have been impressed by the game in all of its features and if you haven’t already, I would recommend going out and buying this game immediately.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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