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Halo 5 Review

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Halo is the game that made Microsoft a viable platform and houses one of the most recognizable characters in modern gaming: Master Chief. It changed the landscape of console first person shooters and spawned a number of sequels and even helped popularize machinima by serving as the base for series Red vs Blue. Halo served as the blueprint for multiple imitators (Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter? Anyone? You get an imaginary cookie for knowing that game) and introduced one of my least favorite mechanics into shooters: only holding two weapons at a time. The series has seen a fair amount of changes, both to its developer and to the gameplay, over the 14 years of its existence but the core has stayed the same; which works to the games benefit and detriment in the newest title of series, Halo 5.

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Halo 5 is the first Halo game made for the Xbox One and it shows. The game is exceptionally pretty and runs smoothly and even when the action is fast and a large amount of enemies on screen, there appears to barely a dip in framerate. Though, resolution can become sketchy in comparison but the team at 343 studios did a masterful job at keeping the game looking beautiful at all times. As a player of the old Halo games, the 60 frames per second (fps) took a bit of getting used to due to all the others being locked at 30 but it is a sight to behold and the stylized designs of the enemies, Spartans, and worlds both mechanical and of flora and fauna all provide a great ground for the killing sprees that the player will go on.

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What has changed is who you go on those killing sprees with. In Halo 5’s story you play a mix of the one, the only, Master Chief and a younger Spartan by the name of Jameson Locke. A game of cat and mouse plays out as Master Chief disobeys orders to follow the whispers of a character that is thought to be dead. Spartan Locke is charged with finding, and if necessary, eliminating Master Chief. The story feels like the weakest part of the game as it is predictable and rather trope heavy in the way the plot proceeds. At no point did the stakes feel all that high or the motivations of the characters really pull through what became a somewhat cliffhanger ending. At least the cutscenes where well-acted and managed to inject life into the squad you are teamed with at any given time. Both Master Chief and Spartan Locke have three other team members along with them that are more or less vehicles for the co-op multiplayer mode of the game. You and up to three other players can play online and complete the story. However, this feels like a necessity if you are playing on any difficulty past normal as the AI teammates varies wildly between helpful and suicidal and the enemies become bullet sponges. All of this yet you are not able to do split screen multiplayer anymore, much to the chagrin of many fans. I understand that 343 wanted to keep resolution and framerate consistent but it is quite an odd change from how the older games were and is a feature many still wanted in the game.

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The feature of the game that most people care about manages to be the best part of the game: the multiplayer. The game’s stalwart modes like team slayer and capture the flag exist in the Arena section of the multiplayer while the new mode, Warzone, has its own section. Breakout, a new Arena mode, is pretty fun and often requires you to work as a team to succeed as you have one life per round. The arenas for the move are close range and have their fair share of blind spots. The big attraction to this one is Warzone. A large 12 vs 12 battlefield where you fight against not only the other team but AI controlled enemies. It is very Titanfall-esque as vehicles join the fray and you have revolving objectives between trying to capture and control all bases, killing off specific enemies, and trying to destroy the other teams energy core for the win. It reminds me of the large scale warfare of Battlefield and is one of the better introductions of a gameplay mode done in the Halo universe. The game is going to receive a lot of post-release support in the way of maps and game modes being released over time until June including the return of Forge mode, a fan favorite, which allows for modification and creation of levels.

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Most already have decided if they are going to pick up this game or not and it is a fine addition to the Halo universe but the game just does not feel as grandiose as some of the older titles in series and story wise felt like a bit of a step backwards. The gameplay still feels like Halo but faster and is enjoyable but the real attraction is the multiplayer. What Halo does, it does well and while not a game of the year contender it is a worthwhile if only for the Warzone mode.

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Reports of my Demise have been Greatly Exaggerated

Wow, it has been a while. To any of the regulars here, all 3 of you, I greatly apologize for my absence. Life got pretty hectic and I didn’t really have a stable schedule. I still do not honestly but eh, trying to get things going back on here since the page has kind of been dead. I am here at least for the moment and trying to get back into the process of writing articles and other things that may actually be of interest. So let me give a quick summary of occurrences as of late and general news of things I have been up to in the world of media.

Gaming: So a lot has happened here since my… I guess you could say “sabbatical?” Fallout 4, Star Wars: Battlefront, Transformers Devastation, Witcher 3 DLC, Rainbow Six Siege, Just Cause 3, the list goes on. I will go into reviews for some of these later but general opinions for start:

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Fallout 4 is good if you don’t want the complexities of the older Fallout games but still want to play in the world after a nuclear apocalypse.

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Metal Gear Solid feels a little on the light side. It’s a good game mind you but before even knowing there was supposed to be another entire chapter it felt a little uneven.

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Rainbow Six Siege is Rainbow Six. I know that seems a little off to say but I will go in depth with this at another time. But blowing out walls feels good. Really, really, really good and it is best to blow out those walls with friends.

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Halo 5 is a natural extension of the series. It hits many of the right notes but the story, what Halo is really known for, is far too predictable and while it is a way to push the narrative along, the feeling overall is meh. But multiplayer is fun and Warzone is the best thing added in a long time to change up the formula.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider is, much like Halo, a natural extension of the franchise. It is quite enjoyable and avoids many of the “woe is me, I’m a victim of circumstance” feeling that the first game played on quite hard. The puzzles are pretty fun and the story is okay. There was a face/heel turn that I called five minutes into the cutscene that the character appeared.

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Rock Band 4 is a bit of a disappointment mostly as it is about a month and so after launch and it still doesn’t work quite well. The effort put in just doesn’t feel as complete of a package as RB3 or RB2. It is quite easy to tell that the game does not have the backing that the previous games did but as a medium to play previous songs, it does its job, just not very well at times.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate surprised me greatly. After the disappointment that was Unity, Ubisoft went back to the drawing board and managed to deliver a game that not only works, but works well and is fun. The dynamic between the brother/sister dual protagonists aids the feeling of creating better and more three-dimensional characters. Most of the complaints I had with the older games were fixed but maintains some of the other issues.

That’s a short list of some of the games on the horizon for me to do full spreads on and the list doesn’t end there. Now on to another subject that I have spent a fair amount of time on, music and movies. Now I am not as well versed in reviewing this material as others but the internet is a place of opinions soooooo…

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Ex Machina is a brilliant film that managed to do something that I haven’t ran into in quite some time: creating a suspenseful atmosphere and a film that actually made me want to keep watching.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 2 was… something. As a viewer who was never too much of fan of the books or the movies, I was impressed. The cinematography was done well and the special effects just scuffed the line of ridiculous and believable. For fans, I imagine it was a satisfying film and to those that did not keep up with it, read a wiki first. There are a few references to past events (as there should be) that keeps the continuality consistent. Overall, a solid film.

Aladdin and Atlantis the Lost Empire… What? You thought I hated all Disney movies? The remasters of these films were well done and made really, really pretty. They looked far less grainy and had a much richer color depth than the older versions and the special features actually felt like they had a place in the films rather than just being tacked on like many other Disney films have.

I have not done much in the world of music besides listening to some cuts that a friend of mine has made but one album that came out this year that I liked was The Mindsweep by Enter Shikari. It is not a majestic adventure through the landscape of an artist soul or anything like that but it is quite enjoyable and brings a level of energy that I really enjoyed listening to. In addition to that, all of the singles by HEALTH have been awesome and if you like electronic bass and drum then you can’t really go wrong with them.

 

And that’s game for right now. I am going to start on full reviews of games soon so stay tuned and thanks for sticking through the wait.

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