Halo 5 Campaign Review

Halo 5 Campaign Review

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I don’t know why I bought Halo 5 for launch day. I enjoyed Halo 4 but only for its campaign; I gave the multiplayer and Spartan Ops a few tries but the lack of Xbox Live! Gold meant that lasted a whole two weeks before I never touched it again. I suspect it has to do with my unending search for the next Halo: Reach campaign. That was an excellent and challenging adventure that tackled the Halo fiction from a different angle instead of being another galaxy saving romp.

I finished Halo 5’s campaign in four sittings and while I found it enjoyable in many respects, it left me feeling empty. The story was another one of those “save the galaxy” arcs that the Master Chief was no stranger to. The marketing wanted me to believe Locke was hunting down the Master Chief for disobeying orders but that was nothing more than a minor tiff. I wanted it to be more than a minor moment. I wished we spent more time tracking down the iconic hero and feuded with him. Instead, the situation culminated with a cutscene. Locke cracked the Chief’s visor a smidgen then the two heroes were off chasing down crazed Cortana and her plan for peace through total annihilation.

The decision to move to 60 FPS was the right choice. The game played sublimely and I cannot believe it took six games before they made this decision. Unfortunately, a number of compromises had to be made to maintain the framerate, the expected elevation in graphical fidelity and all the things Halo was known for including its larger scale battles.

343 Industries and Microsoft weren’t going to allow the next big Halo game to make its debut on the Xbox One and not be a looker. While the art direction was top notch, it still couldn’t hide the fact that the game didn’t run at 1080p at all times. It was fine in enclosed areas but when it got hectic in the larger battlefields, I noticed the game was a little bit blurrier than usual.

While the size and scope of the battles was larger than Halo 4’s, it failed to match the larger free flowing battles of earlier instalments. I was fine with this concession though. I’m not playing Halo for its vast worlds. I was looking forward to duelling with Elites and other enemies in moderately sized arenas; it’s the Halo sandbox that I was after. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like the enemy A.I was improved all that much. Disappointingly, Elites and other equivalents weren’t nearly as aggressive or cunning as the ones found in Reach.

The Covenant compensated their lack of Elite ferocity with numbers. The Prometheans continued to teleport around annoyingly like they did in Halo 4. Both employed more power weapons than I could recall. A recurring boss called the Warden livened the encounters at regular intervals with his copious amounts of hit points but instead of making his encounters more interesting through an ever expanded repertoire of tactics, subsequent encounters merely spawned clones of himself. By the end, the Warden reminded me of all those Destiny damage sponges that I found so very boring.

343 Industries took the time to create six characters to team up with Locke and the Master Chief. I liked how they were simply known as Linda and Frederic. They could have gone down the route of making them clones but they didn’t and I appreciated the effort. The last game that had three other A.I companions was Halo: Reach but in that game they didn’t design an encounter that was clearly meant to be tackled with 3 other live companions. The fight with multiple Wardens was a mess of my companions being too distracted to rescue me and the Wardens ganging up on me. It was silly and I don’t want to think about how that fight would be on Legendary difficulty.

I wasn’t against Halo 5’s move to introduce aim down the sights (ADS). I thought they handled it very well in this game; ADS didn’t affect a weapon’s accuracy. The different sight views gave weapons a bit of personality with their elaborate animations and styles. I also commend 343 Industries for their integration of the modern movement system seen in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. I think they did a fantastic job and even outdid Call of Duty in that department. I don’t know if they should go down the path of adding wall runs in future installments but who knows what the future has in store.

I’m trading in Halo 5 for $35 over at my local Bestbuy. I don’t see myself replaying it and I didn’t develop an attachment to it like I did with Halo: Reach. It’s a solid Halo campaign but once I got passed the shift to 60 FPS and got down to it, I was left wanting more out of the game. I wanted the next jump in Halo artificial intelligence and campaign design. I didn’t want another story about how the universe can find peace if it was purged of all that was evil. I found the entire campaign too rote for what’s dubbed “the next big Halo game.” I was lenient with Halo 4 because it was 343 Industries first crack at the franchise. It was a bit formulaic — especially coming after Reach — but they needed to find their footing. I didn’t expect Halo 5 to stick so close to the formula again.

Verdict:
It’s okay

Ratings Guide

Savestate: AAA Sky Falls

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Assassin's Creed Unity Glitch

AAA games faltering

DRIVECLUB, Halo: Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed: Unity are still suffering from technical issues. They have networking issues, graphical glitches, performance drops and sometimes a combination of all the above. And these are just the high profile titles that have severe issues. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has its own controversy over dedicated servers but it’s being overshadowed.

Instead of dwelling on what is happening, I want to know why this is happening. The easy answer is to blame aggressive publishers that want to make holidays. But we’ve seen plenty of publishers make those timelines in the past.

What’s changed for this year?

Although we’re technically a year into the newest generation of consoles, we’re still not out of the woods yet with regards to console transition issues. Seven years ago, the first Assassin’s Creed debuted to horrible framerate issues and bugs as well.

In the case of DRIVECLUB, you can chalk this up to inexperience with networking. For the folks at 343 Industries, I can’t imagine it’s easy to get four titles humming along nicely (even if they’re remasters).

These are just excuses that I’m making up for these developers. They’re not going to tell us why these games are broken but they’ll continue to ask for forgiveness and patience while you wait.

Consumers are paying money for working products and if they can’t deliver a working product within the launch window, they should be eligible for refunds. It might be tough to convince a retailer to take back an opened game, but those who’ve purchased titles from Sony or Microsoft’s digital stores should receive a refund if they so desire.

Also, thank goodness for built-in recording and screenshot functionality.

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack #1

Over at Nintendo’s little island of fun awaits Mario Kart 8’s first DLC pack. I bought it the dual pack and look forward to trying the new content. I just don’t know if it’s going to be sooner or later.

Random Thought of the Week

I’m addicted to Florida Natural Fruit Snacks.

Halo 4 Review

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halo-4-logo

Microsoft assembled an all star cast of developers to manage and develop the Halo games after Bungie’s last game, Halo: Reach. I had high hopes 343 Industries’ Halo 4. I was hoping for new tech, new ideas and most importantly: a brand new start.

Halo 4 didn’t deliver across all those fronts but it did show that franchise is in good hands.

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