When I think of Halo, I think of myself as a kid playing Halo on my uncle’s Xbox, of playing Halo 2 Splitscreen with my cousin, of Halo 3 four player on Legendary, and I think of Halo 4, somehow looking so good on the Xbox360. Yes there were other Halo games, but without Chief they were never really Halo to me (except Reach, all hail Halo: Reach).
Fast forward 3 years and Halo 5 is out, the first time Halo is not the pinnacle of couch co-op games and the first time that I found myself playing as Chief alone. If you’re reading this, you must be a Halo fan because this review is going up a couple weeks late; this also means that when you heard about the lack of splitscreen you were as gutted as The Insatiable Gamer team was. But in 343 we trust, and we were not disappointed. Beautiful visuals, combined with new, stunning mechanics and a revitalised multiplayer makes Halo 5 stand out among the series.
For those of you who haven’t played the game yet (you definitely should get off your asses and play it) you may not be aware of the new campaign structure. Instead of controlling various Chief clones, or Chief and a handful of elites, you are in control of squads. There’s Spartan Locke’s squad (who you’ll know from the short lived, poorly received Halo Nightfall) comprising of Bucky (mmmm Nathan Fillion), Tanaka and Vale. Operating under the name Fireteam Osiris, Locke’s team is tasked with hunting down Blue Team. If you’ve read the novels, or like reading up on Halo wikis, then you’ll know Blue Team comprises of Master Chief and a team of Spartan-IIs. In Halo 5, Chief’s squad comprises of Kelly, Fred and Linda (easily the worst Spartan names I’ve ever heard). Campaign has switched to squad based combat, with both you and your team having the ability to be revived for a short period of time before death. Also introduced in Halo 5 are a range of new abilities, both in campaign and in multiplayer:
Thruster pack: Just like the thruster pack in previous games, this ability gives you a short boost in the direction you choose.
Ground pound: Lets you slam down with all your spartany might. – love it
Clamber: This makes pesky ledges that much less pesky, giving your spartan the ability to make those jumps that you’d always miss.
Slide: This is pretty straightforward; while running, pressing crouch will cause your spartan to go into a slide.
Charge: After a sufficient sprint, activating this ability will bash enemies with a greater force than normal.
Sprint: Run fast. (If I have to explain what a sprint is, then I don’t know how you made it this far through the review)
Smart Scope: One of the best additions to weapon combat is the smart scope, every weapon now has a scope which is handy in those long distance battles.
In scope hover: While in scope, you will hover in mid air, lasting for a short period. If you are shot at or descope, the hovering will stop.
Gone are the days of each Spartan having different abilities, balancing out multiplayer and making it one of the most enjoyable Halo multiplayer games since Halo 2.
The majority of Halo 5’s campaign puts you in control of Fireteam Osiris, with Locke at the helm. With the lack of charisma required for such a role, many of the campaign missions will leave you feeling like a grunt just following orders. In previous titles, Chief left you feeling powerful and in charge; he did what he wanted and in exactly the way he wanted. With the addition of new personalities and characters, came a new source of conversation. Gone are the over dramatic conversations between Chief and Cortana, instead we get interesting and sometimes humorous background chatter from the squads. Alas, Blue Team did not get this treatment and for those of you without any Halo knowledge outside the games, you’ll find yourself feeling lost to who these characters actually are. With the pricier editions came a special animated series outlining how Blue Team were reunited, and I would recommend tracking down the series and watching it.
Coop felt more at home in this game than it had in previous titles, each player taking control of a unique character rather than nameless elites or Chief clones. Each level had multiple ways to take control of the enemy; one player sniping and two up close and personal, rather than just all out assault rifle blasting. There are numerous ways in which each level can be played, which shows true merit given how small some areas were. When not playing with others, you have the option of controlling your squad through squad commands, ranging from ‘go there’, to ‘shoot here’ or ‘target this enemy’. It’s brilliant not battling the mindless cannon fodder that we have become accustomed to in previous Halo titles.
With the new title comes a revitalisation of previous weapons and a new weapon: The Hydra Launcher. Old weapons feel more powerful, look better, and when combined with the in-scope hover make you feel truly unstoppable. The new Hydra is an underpowered, airburst rocket/grenade launcher which, while sounding cool and looking truly formidable, is not worth the weapon slot. Throughout campaign and multiplayer I used it only when another weapon was out of ammo. Halo 5 gives you plenty to shoot at, a combination of forerunner and covenant enemies, combined with your new abilities and squad creates an all new kind of battle.
Multiplayer successfully combines new mechanics, a new ranking system , better playlist ranks, and a new matchmaking type to become one of the best multiplayer experiences Halo has seen since Halo 2.
Gone are the days of each Spartan having different spartan abilities; with the introduction of the new ability system comes set abilities, this means the only advantage is a skill based advantage. Also introduced are better power weapon markers, similar to Halo 4’s system but featuring a timer, counting down to spawn time. This takes away the advantage veteran players had in previous Halo titles through memorising spawn times and locations. The ranking system has stuck with Halo 4’s ‘SR’ (Spartan Ranking) system, you collect experience from each match which contributes to your overall SR level. This is combined with a playlist based ranking system which we had a glimpse at in the Halo 5 Beta, having since been improved and perfected,you can read more about it here
To help revitalise multiplayer 343 Industries introduced a brand new style of matchmaking: Warzone. Similar to Big Team Battle, but with added NPCs and bases that can be destroyed and captured for extra points. You will find victory in two ways, through points (first to 1000) or by destroying the enemy’s base. This is no small task, and in my first match I found myself getting lost in my own base more often than not. Check out The Insatiable Gamer’s quick look at multiplayer in Halo 5 to learn more:
With new visuals, refreshing mechanics and the best multiplayer Halo has seen in years. Halo 5 is not to be missed.