The build-up to the release of Halo 5: Guardians was intense. Big announcements led to people losing it over the latest trailer; then on the 27 October the game was finally released. The Xbox game has never had a popularity as spectacular as the Playstation 4 adaptation, but it seems consumers are now buying the Xbox One console specifically in order to play Halo 5. But what did we get from this fantastic build-up? An anti-climax, it seems.
While gamers have recognised the game’s positive aspects, they’ve simultaneously criticised Halo’s campaign setting, a lack of character development and the introduction of sneaky in-game micro-transactions. This, and the shocking lack of split-screen play, has riled its fans.
Long-time online streamer Philip Crump tells milk. that gameplay seems dull and rather unoriginal. He found that: ‘On the whole I was disappointed. The multiplayer section now feels closer to Call of Duty than an original sci-fi shooter. With the increased mobility of your Spartan, you are killing and dying much more often, making each interaction far less satisfying.’ He admits, ‘The graphics look amazing. This game is… making full use of the Xbox One’s capabilities.’ At two years old the console has already been pushed to its limits with more detail and intricate combat mechanics. But what does this say about the graphics of future game releases? The multiplayer section, when at its best, is visually impressive but boasts a flaw that many fans can’t seem to get around…
Halo has always been regarded as an enjoyable game for online and multiplayer modes. A hallmark of the Halo games was their wonderful co-op play on split screen, with only one console required (and a friend, of course). But with Halo 5, they made the risky move of taking that away, leaving online multiplayer options only available to those friends with an Xbox One. Accidental elitism? A money-making scheme? Whatever reason it was certainly a risk. And it’s debatable whether it paid off.
And what of the storyline? Comments on TrustedReviews and MetaCritic have been positive in many areas, but the story development has faced unescapable criticism. TrustedReviews confess that the ‘Story will be divisive’, while Forthenco on MetaCritic believes, ‘the campaign story wasn’t just bad, it was abysmal, I beat the campaign on heroic in seven hours’. With such a short solo campaign, those who aren’t lucky enough to have friends with an Xbox One are missing out on the multiplayer mode, which TechSpot reviewer Tina Amini has called its ‘saving grace’.
‘I’d say it’s a step back for the series,’ claims Crump. Likewise, former Pocket Gamer writer, Leighton Owen, tells milk.: ‘As a fan growing up, the thing I looked forward to was going to my friends’ houses and playing co-op on Halo. Because of the lack of this feature, it’s debatable that I would purchase the game now… But overall, it is good value for money. The old N64 games used to be about £59.99… The Xbox One has had a huge price reduction as well. It started at £499.99.’
Opinion seems to be split down the middle, which is more than can be said for the screen.