Back in 2002 I had my first encounter with Halo and I knew instantly that the extra-marital affair I had been having with my Xbox behind Nintendo’s back would not be short-lived. I loved it a lot, right down to the grass – I sometimes still think about that grass, it was more realistic than real grass. Anyway, the point is that this is not going to be a rant about disliking the entire franchise because of its masculine science-fiction storyline or gratuitous violence. I find games such as ‘Kinectimals’ or ‘High School Princess – An Introduction to Statutory Rape’ far more offensive. This is more of a superfluous, knee-deep piece of writing discussing, amongst other things, the parts of Halo Reach that I found a little bit annoying.
As with all of the Halo games, I played this offline and in co-op campaign mode with Billy. I don’t like playing Halo online because everyone else seems to be freakishly better than me at everything. I tend to get nailed within about 10 seconds of appearing on the screen, usually by herds of angst-ridden teenagers with dehydration headaches from the sheer volume of semen they have excreted into their bedsheets during their short lives. I much prefer to play in co-op mode because, well, Billy is way better at Halo than I am and, crucially, he’s on my side. I find it a more enjoyable experience if he is involved, even if he is always Player 1 and therefore chooses the standard green-coloured Master Chief outfit, leaving me with the slightly gayer pink one. Not very intimidating unless The Covenant think I’m going to bum them to death or force them to listen to Kylie on a loop until they voluntarily throw themselves in front of a turret.
Of course it is a good game, Bungie would be hard pushed to make it shit with the success of the previous instalments having done most of the work for them. The graphics are ridiculously impressive as always, the story line is decent – if a tiny bit boring at times – and the cut scenes aren’t too long. The weapons, vehicles and enemies haven’t really changed which means that you can just pick up the controller and get on with it from the beginning. There is no start-of-game fannying around trying to figure out what the hell is going on or what buttons to press. This is handy if, like me, you’re about as patient as Christian Bale in a Marks & Spencer supermarket on Christmas eve.
Enough of the good points though, I much prefer to focus on the insignificant negative details and I’m going to start with the female character, Kat. Why is she a Polish one-armed lesbian? I’ve had a good think about this and I’m not really sure it’s essential to the plot. I reckon some muff-diving, Eastern European and limb-challenged gamers wrote in complaining that the characters were not representative of their audience so they just kind of threw Kat in there to make it look like they give a shit about minorities. Well, I’m not buying it Bungie – you forgot about ginger Asian burn-victims. What a bunch of irresponsible bastards you are.
The dialogue is also a bit cringey. I know that we have come to expect cheesy one-liners when playing these types of games but it doesn’t get any easier for me to listen to. One particular line that ruined my day was this attempt at stopping two guys from arguing:
“Lock it down, both of ya!”.
Lock it down? Who even says that? Why not just say “Can you two stop arguing please?” or “Shut the fuck up”? They did slightly redeem themselves later on in the game by using the term “slag heap” but it is an American game so it was probably more of a mining term than a reference to heaving mounds of sexually promiscuous women. Whatever though, I’ll take it.
The biggest problem I had with Halo Reach is not entirely the fault of the game but a total pain in the arse nonetheless. Having avoided the Internet like the plague for fear of stumbling upon any spoilers, Billy and I began The Pillar of Autumn completely unaware that it was the final level. Instantly upon completing it, Billy went for a shit and I went to source a packet of pickled onion Monster Munch that I had forgotten about at the bottom of one of my handbags. We missed the credits and returned to the living room to see ‘Lone Wolf’ which, to us, was the next level but in reality was a bonus level that is specifically designed to be unbeatable. I think we tried to complete it for over an hour before we eventually caved and had to google it. We still didn’t get it. Wait, that was the final level? The final level is unbeatable? It’s a bonus level? There were credits? What the fuck? This transformed what was supposed to be an epic, original and emotional conclusion into a seriously deflating, confusing and utter shit ending.
Although this was highly disappointing for me, I do see where they were coming from and I think more developers should take these sort of risks. This ending was clearly aimed at the social outcasts who wear Master Chief pyjamas, use Cortana as wank-fodder and know the storyline inside out, and that is how it should be. I wasn’t die-hard enough to deserve a satisfying conclusion – I sometimes feel guilty for killing Grunts when they run around all cute with their arms flapping in the air. On reflection, I probably shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near Halo.