Game Review - Halo 5: Guardians on Xbox One

Written by BroRocker on November 10, 2015 @ 11:31 am

I'm going to start by saying that my review as far as scoring goes will only reflect Halo 5's campaign. The reason for this is that I've honestly struggled with being as competitive in Halo 5 multiplayer as I've been in previous titles, and I feel like my reflection would be negatively based on my performance thus far; however, I will make a few comments about the multiplayer after my review of the campaign. With that being said, let's jump into the campaign:

Basically, this game is the second part of the story that started in Halo 4. Without spoiling anything, the premise of the main plot goes as follows: Master Chief and his team are in pursuit of a mysterious message from someone while newcomer Spartan Locke and his team are in pursuit of Chief, believing his mission might have dangerous implications for the galaxy. Along the way, both teams battle the returning Prometheans and discover more ancient Forerunner technology, namely The Guardians.

One thing that was fun about this game was the return and expansion of other characters from previous Halo games. Dr. Hulsey, who was introduced in Halo 4, plays a much larger role in this game. Buck, the main character from ODST, is back and a part of Spartan Locke's team. Also returning is The Arbiter, who is now leading a revolution against the remaining members of the Covenant. I think this was a good move for the game, as I thought one of the things with Halo 4 was the lack of familiarity with the characters other than Chief and Cortana, which I felt made that game feel a bit void at times, but, let's face it, the stars of the show are Locke and Chief, and that's a place where I feel like this game doesn't deliver as much.

For one, I think this game was used to try and push a new Spartan to the front of the Halo story with Locke, but his lines and delivery make him a very shallow character. I found him to be just a generic, good soldier that didn't add much to the story other than being a vessel for us to ride along with. Now, the other half of the equation, Chief, is also a bit hollowed out in this game. I didn't find his story overly compelling, and also didn't love the fact that you only play as him in three missions. I was more hoping this game would be similar to Halo 2 in that time would be equally spent between both lead characters, which I thought did a masterful job balancing the two leads and keeping both their stories separate and interesting.

The overall plot of this game is just OK, in my opinion. I think the first half of the game is far superior to the second half, and most of the major twists happen in the first half. Yes, there are major developments in second half of the game, but by that point of the game you pretty much know what's coming, and not having the element of surprise in the story really makes the climax not as dynamic.

Another aspect I didn't like was how misleading I thought the marketing campaign for this game was. For months we were lead to believe this game was Locke vs. Chief and that there would be some epic showdowns or some sort of bitter rivalry or something of that nature. The truth, however, is that this really isn't the case at all in this game. There is no bitter rivalry or epic struggle between the two. It's not really much of a game of cat-and-mouse like it was made to be.

My final issue with the campaign deals with the ending (slight spoilers ahead). Similar to Halo 2, all this game does is set up the next installment of the series; however, while the ending of Halo 2 certainly was a cliff hanger, the rest of the game was very much a stand-alone adventure which saw a lot of development and great story-telling. Halo 5 didn't deliver enough in its plot to make the cliffhanger ending easier to stomach. Ultimately, I got the feeling of, "I just spent 10+ on this campaign that I didn't get any sense of accomplishment on."

That's my spiel about the campaign; so, let's briefly move on the the game play. I'll preface this by saying that I am very much a "stuck in my ways" of how Halo used to be before Halo 4; so, I just don't like the way the game has evolved, but I know a lot of people were ready for it to. There are several aspects of the gameplay, though, that I did like a lot and will focus on that.

One thing I liked a lot was the ability to interact with your team. You can give your team (consisting of 3 A.I. Spartans) directives on where to take position, which enemies to specifically target in combat, and you can even tell them which weapons or vehicles to pick-up or use. This makes playing solo campaign a lot more fun and it gives you the feeling you're not playing by yourself (even though you are).

Other quick notes about what I liked:
- General movement is smoother and feels better than in previous games, including with vehicles.
- Aiming is different in a more challenging way, but once you get used to it I think it makes the game feel better and more realistic.
- You have the ability to climb or pull yourself up ledges now which adds a lot to potential tactics and strategy in both campaign and multiplayer.

Visually, Halo 5 is possibly the finest looking game on the Xbox One right now. The backgrounds and level designs are simply stunning. The different worlds and locations each have their own distinct feel. The areas within each mission are sometimes enormous, too, offering a lot of different paths and options, which I think is a huge plus. Also, the score to this game is one of the best in the series. It really creates a haunting mood to some of the levels which does make it more enjoyable.

On that note, though, one of the things that really has blown me away is how great the campaign looks and how creative the level designs are, but that multiplayer maps don't seems to have near the level of thought and care that the campaign did. I have found most of the multiplayer maps to be dull and forgettable. Maybe this is just due to the fact that I miss "the way things were" with previous Halo titles, but I was expecting a little more innovation from the maps.

I know I've criticized Halo 5 a lot in this review, but I think a lot of that had to do with how high my expectations were going in. I had really bought into all the hype. The presentation from E3 made this game seem to be a lot more than what it turned out to be. I was fully expecting this to be my personal "game of the year" and possibly a return to the grand-epic feel of the first two installments of the series, but it just simply wasn't.

Halo 5 is an OK game and one I will continue to try to make myself like more, but for a series that has such a rich history of great games, is that good enough? This is a series that has stagnated, in my opinion, and it needs to find that magic that made the first three entries so memorable if it wants to continue to stay relevant and keep up in today's market.

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Comments


Ruggarell
November 16, 2015 @ 7:54 pm
Halo died after Halo 3.

BroRocker
November 17, 2015 @ 1:05 pm
I would agree. I loved those first games so much and everything since Halo 3 just hasn't had the same magic. Playing Halo 5 multiplayer just makes me want to play MCC.

Game Information

Platform
Xbox One
Developer(s)
343 Industries
Publisher(s)
Microsoft Studios
Genre(s)
First Person Shooter
NA Release Date
October 27, 2015
JP Release Date
October 27, 2015
EUR Release Date
October 27, 2015
AUS Release Date
October 27, 2015
ESRB Rating
T
PEGI Rating
D
ACB Rating
M
MVGL User Score
7.0
Composer
Kazuma Jinnouchi
Official Website
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