Overdue Game Review – Halo 5: Guardians
The second chapter of a new trilogy of Halo games since 343 Industries took over the franchise; “Guardians” continues to grow the game experience and the storyline. But did it work?
Being a fan of the Halo games since “Combat Evolved”, I’m afraid I’d have to say this was my least favorite campaign. While it was interesting to have the Master Chief and the newcomer Locke leading a team of four into combat, it didn’t quite seem like Halo to me. At times I was wondering if I was playing a role playing game or a shooter, as there are a few levels where you don’t fire a shot, which seemed rather out of character for the game. Walking around and trying to find contacts to talk with didn’t seem like something you’d come to expect from an FPS. Those levels were pretty lame, and honestly felt like something that could have been handled in a cutscene rather than wasting our time walking around.
Bucking the trend of Master Chief working alone, he (and Locke) now command a small squad of Spartans that the gamer fights alongside. This means expanded squad controls, as you can assign targets, vehicles and waypoints. While it’s a fun idea, the AI still has some work to do (especially with vehicles), and I found that the only function I used was target assignments, which did come in handy. Another new feature was the ability to be revived after being shot down; something that saved a few checkpoint reloads as I went through the campaign.
WHAT I WILL REMEMBER
How quickly it took to beat the campaign, and how I kept waiting for the game to get “real”.
Perhaps the “normal” difficulty has gotten easier in Halo 5, (or perhaps I’ve actually improved as a gamer playing previous Halo games on harder difficulties? – Nahhhh) but I whizzed through the campaign and never really got to a point where I had to dig in deep and really focus to get past the end of a level, or beat a “boss”-like character. There were no moments like the “Library” from the original Halo or taking down a Scorpion in Halo 2 that I’ll always remember beating. For whatever reason this campaign just seemed rather bland. (And don’t be mistaken – I play all games on “normal” my first time through, and the previous ones just seemed harder on that setting!)
Another thing that definitely won’t be forgotten is the beauty of each level. The attention to detail matched with today’s high-def capabilities make each setting really eye-catching. Who says game design isn’t an art?
Finally, I’ll always remember Locke as the actor who plays the title character in Marvel’s Luke Cage that airs on Netflix, paired with the voice from NFL Network promo’s. Nathan Fillion’s head and voice was fine as a supporting character, but for me perhaps more of an unknown would have worked better as Locke.
WOULD I PLAY IT AGAIN?
Of course. Despite some of its shortcomings, there will be more to experience playing the campaign on a harder difficulty setting, and playing it co-op with a friend will be fun as well. There are also still plenty of collectibles I didn’t find the first time around, and different strategies to be used in combat!
“Halo 5: Guardians” introduced us to a new lead character. And while the gameplay doesn’t change whether you’re Master Chief or Locke, there’s still something more satisfying when you’re playing as Spartan 117. Perhaps it’s just a mental thing. While the climax in “Guardians” certainly surpasses the joke of an ending in “Halo 4”, there is still that feeling of: “that’s it?”
We’ll see how it all wraps up in Halo 6.