I can never decide if my favourite gaming series is Halo or Half-Life, both series' frequently clash against each other, and I feel like a flighty heroine trying to stop the fighting and say "You can both have me!"... hmm? Oh sorry.
So anyway: Halo: Reach. The final Halo game Bungie ever developed and a worthy end to a worthy series. Let's get the niceness out of the way first: Halo's largely non-linear and explorative gameplay remains intact and as fun as ever, the vehicle sections are mostly excellent, the new armour abilities (aside from the ridiculous Armour Lock) were a good idea; the jetpack in particular makes me grin like I have a coathanger jammed in my mouth. And the multiplayer has been given enough changes that, combined with the 3 year gap, makes Halo fresh enough to play again. Congrats Bungie.
But to the chocolate truffle comes the dog turd, to Rome comes Empire and to the giddy happiness of the Christmas releases comes Call of Duty. There are many problems with Halo: Reach, a lot nitpicks, but some pretty substantial ones too. Take it away, me:
The characters in the game are some of the worst I've seen in Halo (and I played Halo 3: ODST). Every single one of them are self-righteous, self-lessly heroic, cliched twats who would be willing to sacrifise themselves at the drop of a hat (irony). Jorge is the only one who even comes close to having 2 dimensions when he speaks to the farmer woman, but even that feels forced and is immediately forgotten under waves and waves of macho dialogue that never fails to force my palm so far into my face my nose flies out of the back of my head.
There's one scene where characters who are supposed to be mother and son talk but their dialogue was so hard and emotionless that I thought he used to be her gynaecologist or something. Also some of the voice acting makes my ears want to curl into protest of this shit. Jorge's accent flits randomly to British, then Italian, then German, and finally back to British when he sacrifises himself.
There are other problems with the game, one minor yet irritating one being that Halo's graphics haven't improved at all in 3 years, but that hardly matters. What DOES matter though, and what made my old Xbox 360 controller snap, is the fucking AI. I can count the amount of games I've played with good AI on one hand (namely Hitman: Blood Money and Shogun 2), and Halo is not among them. I remember in Halo 1 getting so angry with the marines I'd blast the one of a turret in the head, jump on it and spray the rest with enough hot lead to kill Jason Vorhees, and when one was remaining and desperately firing in my general direction and shitting his pants, I'd whack him round the chops with a 4-foot sniper rifle and beat his corpse to a bloody mess. Reading that back makes me want to get myself sectioned by ranting about things is very therapeutic and allows me to unwind in ways that are only marginally psychotic.
ANYWAY HALO: REACH! The AI when driving smack into walls and carry on driving for 5 seconds or 5 plasma explosions too long and Noble Six's body ends up flying 50 feet away to a very confused grunt. But they also can't shoot for shit, so I always just abandon them off cliffs, which is incidently hilarious.
Other than these problems though, Halo: Reach is great. The spire battle is a particularly excellent highlight of the campaign where you can choose how to take it down, plus that map is the shit in multiplayer. Thanks Bungie, for a fantastic ending to one of my favourite series of all time.