Detailed review of Halo: Reach

Halo 3 Topics

First, the basics: Halo: Reach is a standalone prequel with a new (and darker) story that takes place in the year 2552. Mankind is at war with the Covenant on a human-occupied planet called Reach. You play as a member of Noble 6, a team of Spartan 3 soldiers (who are more tactical than technical), attempting to protect the colony from the menacing alien races.

Each of your squadmates have their own look, personality and skills. "We wanted more characters, vehicles, weapons and environments than we've ever had before," explains Lehto, while showing behind-the-scenes material such as concept sketches, storyboards and character renders. "It was also important to us to completely rebuild the animation from scratch to breathe life into the characters and facial animation to help evoke emotion. Couple this with upgraded A.I. (artificial intelligence) to do smarter things, to provide an unscripted game that doesn't play out the same way twice, and the combat experience becomes a lot more interesting."

As with its predecessors, first-person combat is key in Halo: Reach. Lehto first showed a campaign map called Powerhouse, designed for "big, open and epic battles." Surrounding what appeared to be an outdoor military compound were numerous mountains and rocky terrain, including many places to peg off Covenant fighters with high-tech weaponry. The in-game camera zoomed in to show the amount of detail on the Noble 6 squad and their futuristic weapons, including the Needle Rifle, a new Covenant weapon.

Shots were fired to demo the new weapon and impact sound effects recorded for the game, while new graphical techniques were shown for explosions as particles that kick up, such as sand, to make the world even more believable.

Lehto says four times the polygons were used in Reach, which allows for more customizable and lifelike Spartans and better-looking vehicles. Reach also reintroduces health packs "which helps foster exploration," plus when you pick them up they can be retained and used throughout the game instead of a one-time use. New moves were also shown, such as a sprinting across the terrain, but is limited to short bursts that need to be recharged before attempting again.

Along with the main campaign, Lehto promises many multiplayer modes, but won't reveal what they are just yet. On May 3, the public beta – available through the Halo 3: ODST game disc – should give players a glimpse of what the final game will offer.

"People will be surprised at how much content will be available with the beta – it's a real taste of every major feature of the game...which is even bigger than Halo 3," promises Lehto.

Already online: 'Halo: Reach' trailer video on the Web

Halo 3 Topics

"Halo: Reach" also is the last Halo game that Bungie will produce.
Microsoft subsidiary 343 Industries is taking over game development, the "Halo Legends" short-film series, comics, collectibles and other accessories.

Bungie Studios will release the multiplayer beta version of the next Halo game, "Halo: Reach," on May 3,2010, and the full game is scheduled for a fall launch. Only Xbox 360 gamers with "Halo 3: ODST" and an Xbox Live Gold account will be able to play the "Reach" beta.

Here is quite an interesting analyzes of Halo Reach Multiplayer gameplay - author did amazing job commenting on actions and details.

Note: "Halo: Reach" will be available via the "Halo 3: ODST" disc, not the "Halo 3" disc.