Picked up Reach on Tuesday and finished the campaign on Heroic yesterday. Not sure how long it took me, but I put in a good amount of time into it the last two days. Still, not the longest single-player out there. Overall impressions:
- At its core, it plays like Halo. I mean, it is Halo. The special abilities do add a wrinkle to the formula, with the jet-pack changing up the gameplay the most by far. I actually wish there were more sections that encouraged jet-pack use. I also think that sprint should be a default action. These are Spartans. I'm pretty sure they can sprint without the need of a "special ability". I don't think I will be able to play any of the previous Halo games now without the sprint.
- After four Halo games, the formula has been refined and the overall experience was great, but this series' gameplay is now starting to show its age. The fantastic level design and the best A.I. in the biz keeps things fresh and always fun, but Halo needs a revamping in the overall gameplay department for any potential future releases (and since future games won't be by Bungie, we'll probably see just that).
- It goes without saying, but this is the best looking game in the series (it better be). It may not be the best looking FPS out there, but what it lacks in texture detail or geometry it more than makes up in sheer scale. The levels are huge and open and just beg for exploration. Yet the game's sense of urgency almost discourages exploration at the same time. As might be evident by me beating the game in 2 days, I did not do much exploring in my first playthrough, deciding to stick to character and rushing through sections as the game's tempo dictated. But I plan on taking things much slower on my Legendary run. And in reality, the ONLY way to beat Halo games on Legendary is to take things very slow.
- It was kinda strange to basically always have teammates with you throughout the entire campaign. You teamed up with troops at various times in previous games, but you rarely go lone-wolf in this one. And as strange as it sounds, I kinda prefer the lone-wolf stuff. I always tend to enjoy the sections where I am a one man army more than when fighting alongside a squad.
- Story-wise, I enjoyed it. I've always been a big fan of Halo's campaign, so I probably follow the story a lot more than the average Joe (reading up on it after the fact, etc.). I feel Bungie has done a pretty poor job conveying the Halo story to the player in their games. It is pretty hard to figure out exactly why you are doing certain things. Reach might be the best of the series in this regard, but still, I'm sure 90% of the players have no idea what is really going on, what Reach meant to humanity, what an important turning point it was in the series, etc.
And that's about it. I'm going to start up a Legendary campaign and will begin to dive into Firefight and matchmaking. I'll probably post some multiplayer impressions soon. Although, given my thoughts on the Beta they may just be me bitching that the game does not play more like CoD.