Halo 5: Guardians – Review

Halo 5 Guardians

“Let’s make a good jump like we mean to, and handle fools like we need to” – Tanaka

 

This newest installment in the Halo franchise is developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft Studios. As one would imagine, is it made exclusive for the Xbox One. Does Halo 5 live up to the normal sci-fi shooter that we all know, or do the Covenant over run the Spartans?

We all had seen the commercials leading up to the release of the game. Is Master Chief a traitor or is there something else going on behind the scenes. We all have been told to “Hunt the Truth”. Strangely enough, the game really doesn’t even focus on that point. Or on anything we have seen in the trailers as a matter of fact. You are basically in pursuit of Blue Team, aka Master Chief and his cohorts, while also trying to find Cortana. Out of the entire 15 missions the game covers, you only play as the Master Chief in 3 of those. Just a slight disappointment, but the aura around the tacticality of hunting Master Chief makes up for it. Plus the missions that you do play as the Chief are longer and a lot more fluid feeling then those of Osiris, aka the team lead by the main character, Locke. Out of the remainder missions, unfortunate there are two missions that you do nothing in but talk to a few people and then leave. One of these missions can take you literally less than a minute to complete. I’m not quite sure why 343 designed these missions this way, to me they should have just stuck it at the end of the previos mission or made it at the beginning of the next. The way they did it made those missions just feel like fluff to increase the mission count to the story.

A couple little grips I had about the combat are the guns themselves. While they felt fine, the firing sounds seemed a little wimpy and hollow to me. They weren’t as pronounced and sharp as they could have been. To me they seemed muffled and weak sounding. A more sharper and crisper sound would have made the guns feel like they had more heft to them. They overall design and graphical looks of the guns was spectacular, as well as the rest of the graphics in the game, which we will get into a little later on.

The gameplay was fast, furious, exciting and rewarding feeling. Some of the areas you had to go through will take you a while, even on Easy. On Legendary you will want to set some time a side to complete a few of these levels as it can take you an hour or longer to get through. Like most games like this, you fight the same type of enemies over and over again. For one enemy though, the Guardian, it got very annoying. This is a boss type battle. Not only do you fight him once, but you fight him numerous times throughout the entire campaign. This really brought down the fun factor of the game in general. He doesn’t come back in a different form or have any kind of different attacks. He is just a copy/paste of the previous fights. This guy isn’t a push over either. He really has only one kind of weakness, the orb on his back. Most of the time it is a pain to try and get behind him, he always backs up away while facing you. When you do get behind him and start shooting at his weak point he instantly turns back around quickly and fires at you. You can shoot him in his visor to deal damage but that isn’t the most beneficial way of taking him out, especially when he is far away from you.

Out of the entire game the one thing that really irritated me the most the lousy AI of your teammates. For being a AAA game, the AI in Halo 5 is some of the worst I have seen in a long time. Be prepared to hear the lines “Friendly fire here”, “Watch where you are shooting Spartan” and so forth. You will hear those lines and many others quite a lot. In all there are three other members of your squad that you can control as a group. Controlling the group was almost about worthless. You can put your center screen marker on a vehicle, press up on the D-Pad and tell them to drive it, some of the times they would all run to it then stand there look at it for a few seconds before one decides to jump on, then start to drive away from you. I seen a few times when they would drive right into a wall and try to climb it with the Warthog. You can also tell the group to hang back behind you for whatever reason, then a few seconds later, they are running back up in front of you. There really should be a stay put option, by like hitting up twice on the D-Pad would be ideal. I couldn’t even begin to count the many times I was firing my gun and one of them just walked right in my sights and stood there looking at me. There are also times when an Elite will be shooting them and they just stand there with their backs to them until they are downed. When you yourself get downed, you can call out to them to help pick you up so you can continue fighting. There was numerous times when one of them was standing right next to me and did nothing while another AI member would come running half way across the map to try and revive me. After an enemy is killed they will still keep shooting at it for several seconds afterwards. The one thing that the AI is good for is acting as a bullet sponge. They can distract the enemies while you get your shots in. If one of them do happen to die they will respawn a few minutes later by your location.

The actual story of the game is towards the flat side. While the beginning will pull you in, it starts to fall flat about a third of the way in. The slight twist at the end does indeed setup for another installment in the franchise. If you play through on Legendary, you get an additional ending after the credits roll. As mentioned earlier, you are chasing after Master Chief, but for what reason. The story never really goes in any kind of detail as to why we are hunting down Chief. We get small tidbits of information here and there but that is about it. What we can figure out is that Chief was called back in but never showed up as he was going after Cortana. Other then that, there really isn’t much background story to this game. Who is the new main character, Locke? Where did he come from and why is he leading this new group called the Osiris? There are a lot of holes here that need to be tied. If there is a second installment, hopefully it will answer those questions. What we do know is that during one of the cut scenes, Locke says to another Osiris team member, regarding about Chief, ”You’re not the only one here because of him.” Then the game doesn’t even touch on the subject matter after that. There are a lot of empty holes within the story.

The graphical portion of Halo 5 is where the game really shines through. The environment, character models and vehicles are all spectacular looking. Only in a few spots did I notice a few jagged edges and screen shake, other than that, the game is just gorgeous to look at. I stopped a few times during my multiple playthroughs just to pan the camera around to look at the surrounding environment. The characters move fluidly and the animations where smooth as can be. The only thing that looked bad, so to speak, was the vast amount of water in one of the chapters. It looked like polygon triangles just stacked next to each other and allowed to bend and flex to mimic small waves in the water from rising and lowering. There was a few times when I died that my character fell through the map. It never happened during actual game play though. So that could have just been the death animation and the angle of the camera.

Talking about the camera, not once did it get stuck behind a tree, rock or even a wall. This is much appreciated as the camera can be a huge factor in games like this. You could always see right in the lane of vision where you character was looking at. I did not fight with it once during my multiple playthroughs.

Now a days, Halo is more known for its multiplayer side then for its single player campaign. I played the multiplayer aspect for a few hours, and I can honestly say that I actually enjoyed it. If you are an achievement junkie these are very easy to get online. You can easily get them in a few hours if everything goes just right. While there aren’t a lot of vast game modes, what is available is quite enjoyable. I’m not the best online player but I found myself hanging with some of the people who knew the maps inside and out already. I had my bad rounds but most rounds I was right there. However 343 designed the multiplayer side of Halo 5, I give them kudos for making it fun and evenly matched.

My own personal thought is Halo 5, in all, is a really good game. It has it problems as mentioned above, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a game that should be played. If you own an Xbox one I would recommend this game to you. If you are a super Halo fan and don’t have an Xbox One just yet, you should get the special edition Halo 5 Xbox One. According to Xbox Live’s time tracker, I clicked in 92 hours of playtime between the single player and multiplayer. To be honest, it didn’t even feel I put that much time into it. Overall, I would give Halo 5: Guardians, an 8 out of 10.

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