Halo is a game series which has a near god like status to Xbox and certain PC gamers. It gained its fame due to its epic in scale story and its challenging and addictive multiplayer where skill meant everything. I am a story driven player of games so this review will focus on the story and gameplay of Halo 5, and I never really got into the Halo multiplayer. I have played and enjoyed it but never felt any attachment to the online component to the games. To me the Halo series is just one of the only FPS games which I find compelling and fun. The first Halo game I played was 2 and I was instantly drawn into the story, visuals and Sci-Fi setting. Now that you know I like the series and have played all the FPS games in the series let's move onto the review.
Halo 5 is very similar to its predecessors in which shooting the enemy is always a good idea and head shots are still the beginning and end of all hard difficulty settings. The weapons are as diverse as always, not meaning every weapon makes a reappearance but new ones are added as well as modded versions of common weapons. Dual wielding does not return, to my disappointment, but a whole new feature, for Halo, is introduced. For the first time in Halo there is an aim mode. Halo has always been hip fire for everything that isn't scoped but now there is a secondary mode for weapons which is a zoom function for most weapons. This makes a far bigger impact that you would think as it means that not only snipers and DMRs can be used at range creating many more options for you during combat.
Although not new to the Halo franchise co-op is now recognized even when playing alone due to there being squads for you to command which does feel cool, knowing you are in charge of super soldiers that can rip the head off a T-Rex. I know not everyone will feel happy about this as it makes the lone wolf badassary of the previous games disappear, but I am a fan of squad games like Mass Effect so this is a big plus for me. This idea of defined 4 man squads means that there is a chance of being revived, even if playing solo, which really takes away plenty of tedious respawning. Not that the AI are perfect for the Spartan puppies as their path finding is far from perfect, meaning they are more than likely to run into a rock directly between them and a dying partner rather then run round the bloody thing, and that they nearly always charge an enemy you ask them to attack, rather than not act like brain dead cattle and taking cover and focusing fire instead.
As this is a Halo game vehicles are operable in this game but unfortunately feel very restricted. In previous games vehicles have mostly been for open areas that can be traversed in any way you wished to take on the threat at hand with the occasional bridge section. This game just feels like the corridors for shooting are just widened to accommodate the vehicles rather than because they are necessary for the environment given. Again though, I personally prefer ground combat to vehicle.
The Prometheans have been revamped to make them less of just re-skinned elites but they are changed to be and arse to deal with, rather than just challenging. The main reason for this is that their weak spot is on their back. Which they never show to you so it's just to make them have no weak spot. Basically poor game design. And unlike the previous Halo, we have bosses which should be received with applause but this is undermined by the boss returning half a dozen times with ever increasing exasperation.
Halo 5 continues sometime after Halo 4. OBVIOUSLY. The main point of this game is that Master Chief is not the only playable character as Spartan Locke and his Fireteam Osiris take center stage, which may outrage many fans. Halo 5 shows how far the reinstated Spartan Program has come with the knowldge that Spartan squads are now a thing to combat any potential threat, be that Covenant or Prometheans. There are some confusing plot points if you don't read the books or other outside narratives, like me, such as why Master Chief's former Spartan mates not being dead when a plot point of the original trilogy was MC being the last Spartan.
The basic plot, without major spoilers, is that Master Chief tries to find Cortana and goes AWOL so Locke must track him down and return him to the UNSC before something bad happens. This means that Locke is the main character in this game and in the 15 missions available Master Chief is the playable character in 3.
As most of you will be aware the marketing for this game is Chief vs Locke which is utter bollocks. (SPOILER: One cut scene then conflict between them is removed from the plot to become a search and rescue.) The plot still revolves around the prometheans as the enemy and why they are a threat which is done to quite an effect.
In the gameplay section of this review I briefly bitched about the recurring boss fight which becomes tedious. But for the game's plot this is actually relevant and rather terrifying having the knowledge that you cannot destroy this menace. The guardians are also impressive set pieces and make the player feel rather insignificant compared to these behemoths. (it's just a shame they aren't used as a boss fight or as a full level)
Although playing as Locke may be disappointing to many the story actually works quite well only having the MC as a smaller character in a game mostly about him. And shows that this character we have been made to believe is a near god is actually a mere BADASS.
The problem underlying in the story is that when you finish it you will slowly realize that if neither the MC or Locke got involved nothing would have changed. Which makes any sense of achievement of completing the story disappear rather quickly.
Halo 5 uses the same principles for its graphic designs as its previous installments as the best the console can manage without detonating the thing. So it looks impressive, the levels are thematically appropriate and don't feel over designed while keeping amazing visuals. The over design and rather pointless effort, in my opinion, is in the sky boxes which although many players will comment on their epicness,everyone will stop caring about when they start playing.
So for those of you who either didn't read the full review or can't remember what I said a paragraph ago here's my final words. The story is probably one of the worst for Halo but the game and level designs are my second favourite in the main Halo series, after Halo 2, which made want to beat this game twice and one of those on the hardest difficulty. I recommend even though it isn't the perfect creation fans will say it is.