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Halo: Reach

Gamescom 2010: Halo: Reach Campaign Impressions - The Tip of the Spear

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In just five short months, we’ve seen Halo: Reach in action on no fewer than five separate occasions: the debut showing at X10 itself, the space combat at E3, the public beta, our recent hands-on in London and once again, a few weeks later in the very same city. Despite all of the Halo: Reach we’ve consumed in the last few months, we’ve not really seen much of Reach’s campaign in full flow other than a few snippets here and there. Gamescom 2010 gave us another quick look at part of one of the game’s previously unseen missions, “Tip of the Spear,” and if Bungie can maintain this standard across the campaign, we should be in for something very special indeed.

The fourth mission pits Noble Team and of course, Noble Six - that’s you – against the invading Covenant forces with the task of disabling a Covenant AA gun, to allow for heavier support on the surface of Reach. By now, it’s all kicked off on humanity’s last bastion of hope and although we know how it’s going to end, Bungie’s Community Director, Brian Jarrard, assures us there is still an epic story to tell.

“It’s kind of like the Titanic,” Jarrard told us, “Everyone knew that ship was going to sink, but the movie was still pretty enjoyable; there was a lot of sub-stories that we’ve never heard of before. Really it’s more of a character-driven story than we’ve told before. We’re going to let the players get their boots in the mud with the Noble Team and really start to experience these intense battles.”

So expect “twists and turns” with plenty of themes that revolve around “heroism and sacrifice” according to Bungie’s PR guru. Inevitably though, Jarrard stated that “it’s about buying time… to allow Master Chief to get off the planet,” but no, the super soldier himself will still not appear in the campaign, said Jarrard for about the 1,000th time. However, a cameo may not be such a long shot as it’s probably the last thing that Bungie will admit to if true. Call that hopeful speculation.

The Tip of the Spear’s opening cutscene - which as always is in-game - really shows Bungie’s commitment to providing a much more expansive and intensive campaign, as we’re greeted with the sight of a fleet of Warthogs and what may have been Falcons, zipping across the flat desert plains of Reach’s multi-climate environment. That alone should be enough to impress even the most cynical anti-Halo-ite. As Covenant Banshees swoop in and the two forces collide, the sheer number of units on screen gives you a hint at what we can expect as the game gets on. Remember, this is only the fourth mission.

With explosions going off left, right and centre, it’s clear that Bungie has looked to add a more cinematic scope to the cutscenes, adopting to use a wide range of various camera angles that include shots from inside the back of the Warthog amongst others. Camera angles that are more at home in Hollywood than in Halo.

It’s not long before the game’s protagonist, Noble Six, and his compadres are forced out of their Hog by a relentless push from the Covenant, destroying a bridge in the process. At this time the crew are on foot and the traditional Halo combat is well and truly underway.

The Noble Team look to push their way up the right side of this wide-open incline they find themselves on, with nothing but a few lousy rock formations standing between them and a troop of Covenant soldiers. Naturally having higher ground, the advantage lies with the opposition and so Noble Six and co. climb the right side to get on an equal footing.

It’s not long before Jarrard comes under too much fire, dying very early on into the demo. “That’s my first death today,” said Jarrard, “Good old live demos, huh?” we were quick to respond, and with that Jarrard sees an opportunity to highlight the game’s unpredictable nature.

“Every time I have played this mission for three days straight, something different has happened to me,” he said. “That’s kind of the great thing; it’s the sort of sandbox nature of our combat, it’s unscripted. It’s all just AI driven by simulation.”

Moments later, “Oh shit. Maybe I should have played easy…”

After reassessing his approach, equipped with the standard assault rifle and the new human grenade launcher, Jarrard steers the team further up the right side of the incline. The real trouble comes when the team stumble across an Elite, armed to the teeth with a Covenant Concussion Rifle, which according to Jarrard is very reminiscent of the trusty Brute Shot, but more “brutal.” A short moment of sustained fire from the team was enough to send him on his way though.

With the Elite dispatched, Noble Six switches to the remote triggered EMP, which is a secondary function of the Grenade Launcher, and as a result the team are able to disable the turrets and clean the area out. Incidentally, Jarrard notes that he believes that the grenade launcher is the only weapon with a secondary fire, so don’t expect the sniper rifle to fold up into a Spartan lunchbox anytime soon.

Before hopping into the new Rocket Hog – which is as it sounds, a Warthog with rocket pods – Jarrard points out the battles that are taking place in the distance, particularly noting the Ghosts battling it out with the UNSC on the left across a vast chasm, a huge smoking Scarab slightly ahead and any number of Banshees occupying the light blue hazy sky. This is war on a global level and you’re just a small part of something bigger.

Approaching the AA gun, Noble Six makes use of the Rocket Hog to destroy some Covenant Revenants, which Jarrard states “kind of replaces the Spectre.” They are a little more than that though according to Jarrard; “Basically it’s like the Elite’s version of a Warthog, but gameplay wise, it sort of acts as a mix between a Wraith and a Ghost.”

As Noble Six punches the shield protecting the AA gun core and drops a grenade behind, blowing the AA gun to smithereens, the UNSC frigates turn up to offer support fire and as such, the gameplay demo comes to an end.

While it might have only been a quick look at this newest section of the campaign, the more we see of the campaign itself, the more intrigued we’re getting. Taking the light away from Master Chief and focusing on the ODST in… ODST, was one of the most interesting things that Bungie has done with their storytelling in recent years and this time, actually giving them more of a personality sounds like a mouth-watering prospect. We won’t know whether Bungie has actually provided its strongest campaign yet until we go hands-on with the whole thing next month, but watching them try and come up with a story with an ending that is common knowledge, is a challenge that we can’t wait to see them overcome.

Halo: Reach is scheduled for a worldwide release on September 14th.


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Game Info
Bungie Software


US September 14, 2010
Europe September 14, 2010
Japan September 15, 2010

Backward compatible on Xbox One: Yes
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