Monday, October 11, 2010
Halo Reach: Limited Edition
This post could also be known titled, "Halo Reach: The Deathknell of Miniature Gaming and Painting". I picked up Reach along with, what, 50,000 friends? I don't buy a lot of video games, so I make sure the ones I do buy are going to be good for the long haul. In this case, I spent just a little extra to get the 'limited edition'. I had pre-ordered my copy by putting twenty bucks down, which happened to be the difference between this edition and the regular edition anyway, coupled with some proficient upselling at the counter, I walked out with this very hefty edition. If you like the Halo franchise at all and you love fluff, twenty bucks extra is an incredibly small amount to pay for all of the really cool extras to be found within.
The whole package comes in this futuristic type footlocker, complete with a handle on the side. There's a plastic slipcase the box comes in, which can be pitched.
Inside you get the game, a 'handwritten' letter from the United Nations Space Command letting you know you've got some top secret stuff such as...Doctor Halsey's personal journal. She's the one who devised the Spartan program to begin with, her journal details all her notes and sketches on the topic. It is lengthy, and an actual journal on top of that; a bound book with all kinds of fake stuff within. Fake stuff like hotel stationery, coffee stains, scribbles and the like. You can pretty much read the journal as a paperback.
Some of the sketches within alongside a news report from the sci-fi equivalent of a newsfeed. A lot of these were interspersed throughout the journal, and on the backs of them are advertisements kind of like what you see on the backs of receipts at the grocery store.
More journal sketches, and a photograph, which not as numerous as the newsfeed sheets, but there were a few of these full-color glossy pics also tucked into pages as well. All of these feeds and pics weren't just stuck into the journal randomly either, they corresponded as bookmarks into certain sections of the journals and parallel with the writing.
More notes and sketches
The journal, newsfeeds, and photographs are really the tip of the iceberg
A full-size patch of the UNSC is included, it's an actual embroidered patch good to go on a backpack or something, a hard plastic identicard to access ONI systems, and a translucent card with DNA data or something on it. Honestly I don't know what the last thing's supposed to be. There was also a full color printout of some more Spartan technical data.
Several reports and standalone sheets of information are also in the mix
Since the game itself follows the inception of the Spartan program, it's only fitting that personnel dossiers are included on the Spartan candidates that are your fellow NPC's in the game itself.
A large, full-color map of the action on Reach is also included
The manual that comes with it is, well, a manual, it's all full color and stuff, but who uses these things? The limited edition gets you a download card to upgrade your bad guy characters (the Covenenant Elites) to a helmet-less commander model, and there's another upgrade download card you get for pre-ordering to make your own character model have a grenade belt and a fancy-pants helmet. A lot of these types of little extras make for a surprisingly addictive facet of the game.
Just in case all of the above isn't enough, and how can it not be?, you could always pick up a bag of Halo Reach branded Doritos to accompany you along your alien blasting journeys.
Obviously this has been all about the stuff, I could do a review about the gameplay itself, but really there's better people than me out there already doing that. My two cents on it though, having cranked through the campaign and played lots of it online.
All of the online play has been improved beyond what it has been, and it was already pretty good. Lots of new daily challenges, new weekly challenges, and more gameplay options in multiplayer give some focus and direction (if you want it) other than button mashing against hordes of 12-year players who can headshot you while strafing.
Then they've added the whole Cr system, credits you earn through ranks achieved during online play, medals won during campaign play, and the like. You then use your hard earned credits to buy upgrades to your character avatar in the likes of helmets, shoulder armor, kneepads, whatever, it's broken down into about fifteen categories and then subdivided further. You buy a helmet, then you buy upgrades for that specific helmet in levels. Of course certain items are locked until you attain certain ranks, which of course are earned through skill.
So the online play, which is what Halo boils down to in the end, is amazing. Where the game falls short to its predecessors is in campaign play. Now don't get me wrong, the campaign is good, it tells a solid (if a bit dark) story that prequels the entirety of the Halo series and marks the continuation of the then fresh 20-year war with the Covenant. The only problem is that the campaign play for Halo: ODST was pretty much the best I've ever played, and the campaign play Halo 3 even edges out the newest one for Reach. The catch is, those two previous campaigns I mentioned were pretty awesome to begin with, so they're very hard to top, even with the new, super-charged engine under the hood of Reach.