The fifth installment in the Halo franchise has arrived and with it the newest chapter in the Halo saga story. Not only that its the first Halo on the Xbox one so Halo 5: Guardians has a lot to prove.
Being on a new console Halo has had to have a graphics overall which has paid off. This is the best looking Halo game created and that’s not surprising given the hardware its running on. The game runs at 60fps which is great but at the cost of enemies and objects that move in the distance frame rate falling to levels that are really noticeable and really hurt the immersion.
There are also a few changes to gameplay. You can now use ‘Smart Link’ to look down the sights of all weapons which is a welcome change and you also have the ability to use jets to quickly boost yourself in any direction which is great for getting behind cover or closing the gap quickly on enemies.
Weapons have had a great deal of focus this time around making previously weak guns more useful such as the Boltshot in Halo 4. This was a relatively weak weapon but now it has been given a homing effect to its rounds making it a great deal more effective.
Halo has always had an interesting and deep story which has been praised by critics since Halo: Combat Evolved. I went into the single player this time around with great expectations but what I got was like being dropped into the deep end. There are characters which, unless you have delved deep into Halo’s expanded universe of books and other media, you would not know. Unfortunately 343 didn’t bother even attempting fleshing out new characters for fans who have never done so.
You play as not only Master Chief this time round but Spartan Locke for anyone who has played Halo 2 where switching back and forth from Master Chief to the Arbiter this isn’t anything new but was used to show both sides of the story from the view of both the UNSC and Covenant which was done very well and kept the story interesting and fresh this time it just feels like there is tons of build up which ultimately falls horribly flat and considering the huge ‘Hunt the Truth’ advertising campaign 343 embarked on before the games release left me with a real bad taste In my mouth. Don’t get me wrong the story is not terrible in fact far from it the ad campaign made it seem like we were going to have a huge clash between the two Spartans in the end a short fist fight and a cracked visor is all we get and like that Master Chief takes center stage and you forget about spartan Locke which again unless you have spent time in the expanded universe you just don’t care enough about locke and his team enough to miss them well besides Buck and that’s only because we know his character from Halo 3: ODST.
Looking past that the story revolves around Master chief and his search for his AI Cortana who at the end of Halo 4 was thought to have sacrificed herself to save the Master chief. Master chief while on a mission with his squad of fellow spartan two’ is contacted by Cortana which promts Master Chief to set out to find her and bring her home to the UNSC. Master Chief defies his orders to leave finding cortana to a different squad of Spartans and goes AWOL Spartan locke and his team are then tasked to bring Master Chief in.
Unfortunately the story this time around to me didn’t feel solid and gripping as the previous entries to the series. With all the new characters to deal with and no back story for them I just did not care enough about them and in fact the Spartan Locke missions I found myself rushing through to get back to the sections the Master Chief is involved in. This is a real shame and a massive oversight by 343 and what really disappointed me was the length of the single player – I clocked in at less than 4 hours which even for Halo is very short.
In the end Halo 5: Guardians takes two steps forward in one regard and three steps back in another. Game play has been a huge focus this time around with increased mobility and better gun play not to mention the graphical quality of the whole game. But the down grade of the main plot of the story takes away a lot from the overall experience.