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Halo: Reach Review

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Halo reaches for the stars

★★★★★

When talking about a series as influential and beloved as Halo, you’d better be careful making the grand claim that the latest edition is the best yet. But after you’ve gorged yourself on the sublime single-player game – and steeled yourself for the months of thumb-numbing online multiplayer to come – there’ll be no doubt in your mind that this is Halo’s crowning glory.

As far as the single-player game is concerned, Reach polishes everything you love about Halo to an impossible shine. An empowering hero who makes you feel 10ft tall and able to punch holes in solid concrete? Check. Tense gunplay and intelligent enemies that make every skirmish feel like an epic fight for survival? Check. Beautifully-designed levels that mix luscious natural environments with towering cityscapes, and provide the perfect backdrop for world-class shootouts? Check. And with jaw-dropping graphics and slick scripting that make the sprawling tale feel like the best Hollywood sci-fi movie never made – and new jetpacks, military vehicles and intuitive space battles that make this feel like a huge step forward for the series – Reach is one of the finest videogames of the past decade, and the perfect swansong for developers Bungie who are leaving Halo behind to explore pastures new.

But even though the single-player game is over much too quickly – and you’ll be wishing throughout the adventure that it could last forever – it’s only the beginning. The multiplayer in Reach has also been honed to perfection, offering new modes, weapons and battle arenas that will delight old hands and those fresh to the Halo experience, and a wide range of co-operative and combative modes that will keep gun nuts of all tastes happy. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that you’ll still be playing Reach online this time next year.

While all Halo games have been undisputed modern classics, it’s all been leading up to Reach; a title of such depth, imagination and downright perfection that it belongs in the pantheon of gaming normally reserved for groundbreakers such as Super Mario World, Final Fantasy VII and Doom. A blaster no gamer should be without, Halo: Reach will remind even the hoariest old gamer why playing videogames is so much fun.

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