Halo 5: Guardians

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Master Chief vs. Spartan Locke

Played on the Xbox One

Master Chief is back again. It’s been 14 years since the first and the franchise still stands strong even in the hands of a different developer. It just shows how much people respect the franchise and how valuable the franchise is to the industry.

Bungie’s departure from the franchise left a void of epic proportions to fill, but Microsoft left it in the hands of 343 Industries. 343 Industries’s work on Halo 4 exceeded the public’s expectations and gamers felt relieved of how true it stayed to its origins. Halo 5: Guardians is their second outing, but like every sequel, can it meet or even exceed expectations? Well…the trailer most definitely felt epic and left a lot of jaw-dropping reactions and questions about the franchise’s future, but the game fell a bit short on delivering another epic experience.

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Trailers left some jaw-dropping moments and left us with an amazing scene with Knights of Cydonia playing in the background. The death of Cortana in Halo 4 left people wondering what 343 Industries would do to upset gamers and change the game’s universe even further. In the preview trailers, Spartan 117 is off fighting and saving the universe, but he’s also been branded as a traitor and ONI gives assignment to another Spartan team to hunt down Master Chief and the rest of Blue Team.

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I felt somewhat betrayed from the trailers, as it over-hyped my expectations and the game did not turn out the I thought it would. *SPOILERS* The story surprised me as it became the story of the rebirth of Cortana and her change in becoming a new threat of the universe. Her belief of creating peace in the universe by launching out Guardians (massive robots that can eradicate an entire galaxy) to police each galaxy. But to others, this would mean she would not hesitate to bring destruction to complete her goals. * END SPOILERS*

What disappointed me was the lack of tension between Master Chief and Spartan Locke. In the trailers, there’s supposed to be a struggle, a fight, and a betrayal of epic proportions between the two. But the story failed to deliver and the ending left me disappointed.

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The extra characters also hindered the story. Each of these characters (especially Blue team) did not have a great amount of character development (unless you have played previous games or watched the series). If you played the previous games, the story brought each character to life, but the lack of character development left the story feel rushed and bland.

A connection between Master Cheif and the player was missing; unlike in the previous Halo games, I never felt this game was about Master Chief and his epic journey to protecting the universe. The introduction of Locke expands upon the story, but the character was never fully developed unless you watch the Halo miniseries. The story tried to introduce a lot of Halo lore, but without any knowledge of the universe outside of the video games, I was constantly lost in the story and kept me questioning if I needed to know the information for later in the game to get a true understanding of what’s going on.

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Everything you expect from a Halo game was there: the weapons, suit abilities, the vehicular warfare, the incredible graphics, beautiful soundtrack, and the overall gameplay. A few new tweaks were made to the game, but two stood out the most. First change was the ability to aim-down-sights with most of the weapons. Halo was one of the few franchises that kept the old-school way of shooting from the hip. This completely changes the gameplay and gives player more control of the weapons. The second change, was the ability to quickly boost into any direction. This changes the pace and adds a new depth of movement for players. What Halo:Reach brought in space battles and created a new layer of depth in the gameplay and was easily one of the best additions to the game. In Halo 5, there was a new vehicle to play with, but overall the campaign’s vehicle levels did not add to the gameplay and I felt they added it as an afterthought.

The campaign was of typical first-person shooter length. I played through normal mode and finished the entire campaign in less than seven hours. The campaign felt shorter than Halo 4 – but then again, I played it on Legendary mode which contributed to prolonging the time played. Halo 5: Guardians’ campaign offered some spectacular moments and impressed me with the sheer scale of what the game had to offer and at other times it felt like any other shooter in the market.

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Halo 5: Guardians placed you in a team of four throughout the whole game. There would be moments where players were riding solo, but for very brief moments in the game. The developers took a page from Halo: Reach and Halo: ODST and had players in teams of four throughout for most of the game. Thankfully, the AI kept out of your way (most of the time) and you could concentrate on destroying everything in your path.

Halo’s visuals were one of the prettiest on the Xbox One. The universe of Halo was captured in beautiful detail and left you in awe. The character models and weapons were incredibly detailed and the animations were fluid. The colorful worlds you traverse ranged from a desolate mining town to a lush alien world full of plant life and color. Every vehicle had meticulous detail and the effects from the lighting effects to the explosions were pretty to look at. If there was a game that needed a photo mode, this game was the one.

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Halo‘s multiplayer is the true source of the game’s fun and endless amount of replay. Over the years, the mutliplayer was one of the most sought out modes for Xbox owners. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to play any of the previous Halo multiplayer (surprising, I know) and this was the first time I was delving into Microsoft’s pride and joy. A typical number of game modes were present from Capturing the flag to Team Deathmatch. Warzone allowed for some frantic action as 24 people battled to the death.

Multiplayer was loads of fun, but for a Halo noob, I was easily wrecked in every game. Even with my incompetence, fighting in vehicles or going hand-to-hand with opponents left me with a smile. Multiplayer let me enjoy this game to its fullest, and with the new updates, the game leaves players wanting for more.

I purchased the game on the single-player alone and the hype left me disappointed. Even with the high production values of a triple-A game, 343 Industries couldn’t capture the magic as they did in the previous game. Thankfully, the multiplayer showed me why the Halo series was always one of the best and kept me playing for a little bit longer. Still, the single-player experience is what made Halo. Maybe Master Chief needs to go solo instead of letting Spartan Locke ride shotgun.

Rating: 3.5/5
Metacritic: 84/100

 

Shadow Warrior

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Too Much “Wang”…

Played on the Xbox One

First-person shooters during the days of Doom were all about fast-paced, no-nonsense fun by running around shooting bad guys in their pixelated faces and stumbling upon a few secret areas. The game’s story sole purpose was to introduce the gamers to the game; no need for a Steven Spielberg storyline. First-person shooters these days offer “Hollywood-esque” moments and have become more story driven than before. The days of fast-paced shooters such as Doom and Duke Nukem seemed to be all but forgotten. Devolver Digital and Flying Wild Hog brought back an old-school favorite to life and decided it was time to remind gamers what first-person shooters were once about.

I never played – or even heard of – Shadow Warrior before the remake. The only information I knew was 3D Realms was responsible of the birth of Duke Nukem. Just like the original, a bloody orchestra and cheap puns were all present. But is it a nostalgic piece or a terrible reminder of the past? Continue reading “Shadow Warrior”