Superhero and cartoon characters are integral parts of the electronic entertainment industry. With this in mind, I salute the meld of pop-culture character and video game with a look at Halo Reach: Limited Edition (from Microsoft Game Studios, developed by Bungie Studios, reviewed for Xbox 360, rated M for mature, $79.99).
One of the year’s most anticipated first-person shooters continues the saga of humanity’s fight for survival against the multispecies war machine known as the Covenant. This package not only offers players the full game, but also includes a fantastic history lesson about the creation of the United Nations Space Command’s most famous weapon.
What’s the story? From the package: It is the year 2552. Welcome to the planet Reach, the heart of the UNSC’s military power and home to the iconic Spartan supersoldiers. For decades, humanity has fled from the relentless Covenant threat, and now the largest Covenant fleet ever witnessed looms in the darkened skies over Reach. Noble Team, equipped with a deadly arsenal of high-tech weaponry and abilities and bolstered by the full might of the UNSC, must stand and face a full-scale planetary invasion.
Play the role: During the solo campaign, the player assumes the role of Noble 6, a newly trained Spartan ready to defend Reach.
With help from five more team members, including silent killer Emile (his helmet is to die for) and heavy-weapons specialist Jorge, he will go on missions to help fellow Spartans, rescue citizens of Reach, and engage and destroy the Covenant on the ground and in the air.
Noble 6 gets a fully customizable helmet and body armor (down to individual pieces) and successful players earn credits to create the most stylish and ferocious-looking Spartan in the galaxy.
Get to the action: Noble 6 can carry two arms and will have access to about two dozen types of weapons from the Spartans and Covenant forces as he battles Grunts, Brutes, Elites, Jackals, Hunters and Drones.
New weapons include the needle rifle, fuel rod gun (it blasts green-hued projectiles) and plasma launcher (hold the trigger down and shoot four tracking plasma grenades).
An assortment of temporary power-ups (one can be carried at a time) is available to the Spartan (look for the florescent glowing stations) and range from holographic decoys to jet packs to an impenetrable shield.
Additionally, Spartan eventually will find vehicles he can drive or whose weapons he can control, including the Warthog, Scorpion, Wraith and Falcon gunship.
Space battles are now part of the action as Noble 6 takes control of the Sabre orbital fighter in an aerial dogfight.
Memorable moments (in no particular order): Using the Target Locator, a hand-held GPS-type system used to define an area and have UNSC’s orbital fleet unleash a bombardment to vaporize a Covenant Phantom; sniping an Elite from a misty, mountainous location after sending out a holographic decoy to confuse him; watching my hands pop off an overheated plasma rifle; and speeding along on a Ghost, skimming over a pond and looking at smoking Grunt carcasses.
Violent encounters: Blood of many colors will be spilled in Halo Reach, but the action is nowhere near as graphic as I have seen in dozens of other shooters.
Amid the explosions, head shots and crumpled bodies strewn about comes a better version of assassinations. Basically a glorified finishing move, it is executed by holding down the melee button to release a third-person level of hurt on unsuspecting enemies.
Read all about it:Marvel Publishing presents the four-issue limited series Halo: The Fall of Reach - Boot Camp ($3.99 each). Adapted from author Eric Nylund’s 2001 best-selling novel, the story highlights the origins of the famed Spartan Master Chief Petty Officer John-117.View Entire Story
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A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in communications, Joseph Szadkowski has written about popular culture for The Washington Times for the past 17 years. He covers video games, comic books, new media and technology.
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