It’s one, if not the biggest games of 2015. A game fans and even neutrals have been eagerly waiting over three years for. I’m talking of course about Halo 5, but does it live up to its hype? And more importantly, has the wait been worth it?
In short, I’d say yes to both, but only just. Halo 5 is a triple A game in every sense of the word. With an OCD like polish, Hollywood worthy cut scenes and adrenaline pumping action, Halo 5, aesthetically, is a masterpiece despite a few sharp edges that must be made with any triple A game.
Visually beautifully with some stellar new locales, technically slick with phenomenally quick load times and full of the sweet sounds of intergalactic warfare, it’s hard to fault Halo 5 as an outsider looking in.
Immerse yourself in the game though and a few glaring faults emerge that taint an otherwise near perfect gaming experience.
The campaign is a notable departure from the lone ranger model that has worked so well for previous Halo games. I personally love the added adrenaline of attempting to save the galaxy alone. In this entry however you’ll be playing as both Master Chief with his Blue Team and Spartan Locke with his Red Team, meaning you’ll always have someone there to save you whether you like it or not.
With the power to revive you, although you can die if they take too long or if you are utterly disintegrated, the danger of death is very much dimmed to the ultimate detriment of the game. Rather than the strategy other games have encouraged, I often felt like I was meant to be running and gunning now I had a squad behind me.
The squad dynamic isn’t all bad though with the extra guns making for larger battles and more enemy scalps to claim. The AI themselves are rather helpful often providing good cover when you find yourself reloading and risking their own lives to revive you (something I doubt your co-op buddies would do).
That said I get the sense that the campaign is best enjoyed with friends. Together you can actually strategise and work out a good plan of attack. While you can command your AI minions around with positional commands, there’s just not the same level of unison you and your mates can have as a team.
The campaign itself, in large part to the extra difficultly to die, is very short. With 15 missions in all, some that last only a matter of minutes, you can polish it off in around 8 hours on normal difficulty. So if you want a longer campaign and a bit more of a challenge I really recommend bumping up the difficulty.
That said I’m not too sure you want to prolong the campaign longer than you have to. As a person that prefers campaign play over multiplayer, it very much feels like Halo 5 has taken the Call of Duty path and opted for a basic campaign that acts like more of a tutorial to the multiplayer than stand-alone feature.
Sure the crossing over between Spartan Locke and Master Chief was a neat change of pace and the story itself had the usual Halo weight to it, but I just couldn’t help but feel somewhat short changed once the credits started rolling. There were a few big boss battles yet nothing really stood out while some of the missions, even those that lasted under 20 minutes, became rather grindy. Throughout the campaign there’s also a lack of guidance, I never really knew where I was heading or doing most of the time, with the pop up guide needed way too often.
All this said, the story and conflicts that arise make amends for these lapses even if some of the trailers exaggerate the eventual conflict between the two protagonists. I won’t go into more detail as Halo 5 does deliver a very captivating story even if it falls within the confines of original tropes of the genre.
Like most games today though, the campaign and story plays second fiddle to the multiplayer which from my small taste, adds the flavour the campaign is missing.
The two core modes of Arena and Warzone are ideal contrasting game types with the new Req Pack system ensuring a perfect mix of well-earned advantage and a mechanic that does its best keep things level. In the few games I played, never once was there a blowout and no single player truly dominated. Both these things may change with time but the fact everyone seems to start of level is a positive.
David Chattaway and I will be playing some more multiplayer in the coming days and will provide a more in depth look at multiplayer soon, so stay tuned to Novastream for all your Halo goodness!
Overall, Halo 5 ticks all the necessary to avoid this being a disappointment. Be warned though that if you are just looking for a good campaign and nothing else, disappointment may well creep in. Gone are the days of solo Halo play with both the team based campaign and emphasise on multiplayer suggesting that one man can no longer save the galaxy and one gamer can no longer be the focus of big gaming companies.
Review by Josh Thomas