Sunday, September 26, 2010

Halo: Reach Completed for the Second Time

Earlier today, I completed my second playthrough of Halo: Reach, my first go on Heroic Difficulty. Overall, a very solid and enjoyable experience. Except for the checkpoint-only save system. Why console developers rely on this archaic frustration of a save system is beyond me.

Anyway, I was very impressed with the enemy AI, as just like in previous titles, it ramps up on the harder settings. The Elites in Halo: Reach are thus far the toughest non-uber powered enemies in a shooter I've ever faced. What I'm less impressed with though is the ridiculous durability of some enemies. The higher level Elites, for example, can survive a direct hit from a Spartan Laser.

This is the weapon that can blow up tanks! How does that make sense? Surprisingly, the Shotgun is ridiculously effective against them at close range, which is a nice change of pace since that weapon has stunk since Halo 3. Halo: Reach tends to keep most battles at a further distance than the previous games in the franchise though, so the Designated Marksman Rifle, Needle Rifle, and Magnum where still my fallbacks.

What I'm really not impressed with is the friendly AI. Really, they're dumb as -BLAM- and near useless. Admittedly they do kill things, but it takes them a long time, and they'll often just hang back doing nothing while you do all the work. I'm not even just talking about the soldiers, I'm also referring to your fellow Spartans. Emile has a Shotgun, for example, so you'd think he'd rush in to take on enemies up close. Right. He usually hangs out in the back. Or maybe he's making googly faces at the Brutes behind his custom scratched EVA helmet. Sorry Emile, that's not helping.

I'm happy to say that I didn't mind the story at all this time, since I've reconciled a lot of the retcon thanks to Halsey's journal included with my Limited Edition of the game.

I also had a good time earning "If They Came to Hear Me Beg." It took me 27 attempts over the span of about 10 minutes. In two of those attempts, I landed right on the Elite, killing both of us. In one of those two attempts, a Grunt panicked after the Elite and I died and suicided itself on our corpses. In another attempt, I Meleed the Elite (the Assassination didn't kick in for some reason), killed him, and survived the fall.

Did I mention I really, really hate checkpoint-only save systems? Seriously, there were several points in Halo: Reach in which the game just didn't want to checkpoint at all, causing me to have to repeat 10 minutes of various battles over and over again. My total playtime this game was probably close to 12 hours. A few of those hours were thanks to the -BLAM- checkpoint save system.

In fact, I got so frustrated at one point, that I punched my Controller. Not once, not twice, but thrice! And kudos to the crafty engineers at Microsoft, it still works flawlessly!

One interesting thing though is, with the exception of a few sections, I actually found the game easier on Heroic than I did on Normal. The parts that I found really challenging:

- The very end of Chapter VI, as I didn't equip myself with the best weapons prior to the final battle.
- The very end of Chapter VII, which is where I abused my Controller three times in a row.
- Most of Chapter X, especially the beginning, after the caves, a middle section (I'm now officially scared of Hunters), and the next-to-very-end battle. The earlier sections were hard due to, again, the checkpoint save system not wanting to kick in, causing me to repeat 10 minutes of play over and over again. I learned to take deep breaths though and not hurt my Controller anymore.

Next up is Legendary, and we'll see if I can go through it solo. Or if I molest my Controller again. My poor, poor Controller.

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