Halo 5: Guardians review

When the marketing campaign began for Halo 5: Guardians it had us all intrigued, Spartan Locke, out to get a traitorous Master Chief, surely not? I felt a bit let down with the story overall, but my experience of Halo 5: Guardians is positive, let me tell you why.

The campaign sees you play as two teams, the first you play as is Team Osiris led by Spartan Jameson Locke. They are new to the Spartan Program and it’s interesting to hear their dialogue throughout the game – they have a shared objective but are still learning a lot about each other. But we are here for Master Chief, and he heads up Blue Team who have grown up with each other and are almost like family.

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The campaign is essentially one big chase sequence, Master Chief goes rogue after making a discovery he can’t ignore, and Locke with his newly formed team are tasked to bring him in after rescuing Doctor Halsey from her Elite captors. It’s an interesting idea to make a character we’re all so accustomed to saving us turn his back on us – it would have been great to spend more time with the Chief to watch more of the story unfold but we didn’t get that which was a shame. It all felt a bit inconsistent, one minute everything seemed to make sense and then when you were left looking for a bit more explanation and depth into the story.

Throughout the campaign there are some fantastic set pieces and the amount of enemies on-screen makes for some truly epic battles. For the most part, the AI works well – they’ll revive you quickly when you request assistance and respond to waypoints or targets that you prioritise but I did notice some odd behaviour at times from them and my enemies. Most of the missions are pretty linear, but thanks to the huge environments there are plenty of ways to reach an objective or to deal with a group of enemies. The vast environments are worth exploring too, as well as gaining an advantage over your enemies, you’ll find weapon stashes and the odd vehicle to help you on your way – plus the elusive Skulls and numerous intel dumps thorughout the game, which serve to further expand the game’s background.

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No doubt 343 are reading this so take note; Missions that involve talking to people are not missions! Also there are some epic cutscenes that would have been superb to actually play, it was great watching them but I was desperate to take part. The ending of the game had shades of Halo 2 about it and while slightly annoying, I’m already looking forward to how the next game unfolds.

343 have done some great things with Spartan movement in Halo 5, introducing the best mobility and skill set I’ve ever used while playing as a Spartan. Firstly their movement is faster and you have some awesome new abilities to make you feel like you’re a huge powerful tank of a Spartan. You can ground pound enemies from above, taking out three or four smaller opponents at a time, the dash boost helps you get out of some tight situations and you can combine sprint with melee that will send your foes flying. The best move is while you are jumping – zooming in with any weapon allows you to hover – it’s resulted in some of my favourite kills.

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Halo wouldn’t be complete without the co-op experience would it? Frankly I’m no good at Halo beyond the Heroic difficulty so I need all the help I can get from my friends. It’s a superb way of playing Halo and perfect for hunting down all of the Intel and getting hold of all those pesky achievements. What else is great with friends? Multiplayer! Fans of Halo 2 will appreciate the efforts made by 343 but they might feel it’s not quite there… yet.

Despite the route they took with Halo 4, 343 have scaled things back for 5 – there are enough Call of Duty games around if you’re all about loadouts and abilities – in Halo 5 you can expect fast paced action and you’ll have to rely on your own skill to get by – grabbing power weapons first also helps!

The gameplay is fast and frantic and most importantly, fun. During my time online I found a things a bit hard to get used to. Firstly, your shield is nowhere near as strong as it is during the campaign. Also your melee game needs to be strong – its various combos should play a dominant role in your strategy. The mini map needs some work, it doesn’t pick up your opponents until it’s almost too late. I haven’t noticed as much as Rich has, but he often complained about lag when he found himself going up against our friends across the pond, it would be great to be able to select which location of servers we would like to play on.

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The lobby system, while fast, is a bit weird in that it always knocks you out at the end of each match and sets you into a brand new lobby. While good so you don’t end up with the same team, or losing against the same players, it would have been nice to have had the option to party up. You can’t vote for maps either which is a shame. Generally the game modes within Arena are pretty good, the standout mode for me is Capture the Flag, it’s full of action and is the mode I’d go to first if it ever gets it’s own playlist.

New to Halo 5 is Warzone, simply put your objective is to score 1,000 points by capturing objectives and killing bosses that spawn during gameplay. Capturing all the objectives allows you to attack your opponents base, if you destroy the base’s core it’s game over. What I love most about this mode is that your are constantly having to adapt, changing priorities in order for you team to score the most points. As you play in any multiplayer mode you’ll earn Requisition points (REQ), which can be used to order vehicles and weapons in Warzone and boosts in either multiplayer mode. Choosing the right piece of equipment at the right time can be enough to turn the game – but you can’t just call in a Scorpion from the start.

To use REQ cards in your collection you must first gain energy from killing enemies and capturing objectives – the more energy you have the higher the card you can use. New cards are gainned by opening REQ packs or achieveing certain milestones in your Spartan career – each pack rewards random items. Remember how annoying the cryptarch from Destiny was? Yeah, these can be just as frustrating – I never seemed to get any armour pieces – while Greg opened two gold packs and got several pieces! I can’t see my self putting any real money into these but they are a nice little add-on.

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Despite the slight disappointment with the storytelling and character building, Halo 5 is awesome, it looks stunning – even during multiplayer – there were no drops in framerate and the audio is spectacular, from the incredible score to the sound of the weapons, which have seen an overhaul and sound more brutal than ever before. The multiplayer, especially Warzone is brilliant, there are still improvements to be made but in Halo 5: Guardians you are getting an awesome package.

Thanks to Xbox for supporting TiX

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