For some of us Master Chief is a legend. A soldier above all else who has saved the world time and time again. We’ve gone through the fights with The Covenant, took on the creepy armies of The Flood, and in the last adventure took on a whole new terrifying enemy The Prometheans. Memories of the adventures of 117 are in the hearts of all Halo fans, but this time around fans might find their Master Chief fix a bit lacking.
Halo 5 tells the story about Master Chief more than you actually get to play him. You play as Locke of Spartan Team Red and a rag tag group of soldiers staying one step behind Master Chief as he hunts for Cortana. Now that’s not to say that you don’t get to play as Chief but only for about 20% of the game’s story missions. Early on Chief receives a signal from Cortana telling him to come to Meridian and disobeying all orders he does so. Once command receives wind that he has gone rogue in search of Cortana, Locke sees this as an act of betrayal and makes it his mission to stop 117 and bring him back. As the story unfolds we see familiar faces from Dr. Halsey and our old friend The Arbiter. We eventually learn that after the ending events that took place in Halo 4, that Cortana has been cured of her illness and taken on the role of Mantle of Responsibility that the Didact was trying to accomplish in Halo 4. However seeing how this is Cortana she is far less threatening than the Didact was. She sees the Mantle as something very important that will bring peace to the universe.
Now while Locke isn’t a bad character, I feel that fans have a strong bond with Master Chief. I feel that this was one of the reasons why the story in Halo 2 wasn’t anything spectacular and I feel the same way about this. There’s something strange playing a Halo game that has Master Chief in it and barely seeing him. I would have loved to hear Stephen Downes more than I got to. I knew nothing about Locke prior to this game and wanted to see the missions split up a bit more between the two teams. I also wondered why the visor for Chief was red and he was on blue team, and Locke’s was blue but he was on red team. Seems like such a strange way to have color coordinated this.
The story in Halo 5 had potential but ultimately it fell flat on its face at the end. I felt the game was building up to something huge the whole time, pushing me on to only leave me with a lackluster ending and confirmation that there will a Halo 6, which we already knew would be probable. There were a few great intense missions, but more often I felt that I was just moving forward to fight another wave of the same enemies. I didn’t feel pulled as I have before mentally to press on and the bland reuse of the same very annoying boss got very frustrating. This game was completed as a solo run on legendary difficulty and if you’re looking for a challenge this is the hardest Halo to date. I was able to pick up my old skills by level 3, but the overuse of a boss made the run almost unbearable. This game almost broke my soul in order to complete this challenge. I don’t think 343 put a lot of thought into the fact people will want to solo this and made it too difficult for even us vets.
Most of the enemies that you encounter and weapons that you’ll use are all Promethean. In fact almost all the time the Human and Covenant weapons are useless when it comes to taking on enemies. Covenant makes a few appearances, however you better learn the weakness of Prometheans and how to master their weapons as those they will be on your screen most of the game. One nice addition is a new Promethean air craft that hovers in place and has devastating attacks.
The game looks nice and the 60fps is great for multiplayer, however one thing I noticed a number of times is that the character animations were a bit clunky. Almost like they were moving like a robot for a slight second. I saw it once in a cut scene and a number of times in the earlier half the game when enemies were trying to move around. The game looks beautiful, but I wasn’t blown away by the graphics outside of cut scenes and the background off in the distance.
There were a number of bugs that I encountered along the way. I had Prometheans try to teleport to attack me and fall through the map to the ledge below or disappear completely. Now on legendary this was a bit relieving as this would have been certain death, but it’s annoying to have a kill ready with your scattershot to have the enemy just fall through the map and still try to come at you. The AI for the enemy is rock solid, while the AI for your team is pretty bad. I watched on multiple encounters my team mates have no sense of urgency when it came to reviving me or taking out the targets I tagged. There were a handful of my deaths that could have been completely avoided had my team mate(s) not been right in front of me on a ledge below and had no desire to revive me. I got better at using the rest of the team as I went along, but the value of my AI teammates was very little. I would have been happier to not have squad based teams and go back to being a 1 man army and battles centered on that.
Just like with any popular FPS there are going to be those who are not concerned at all with the campaign as much as me, but wants to immediately hop online and start playing multiplayer. Arena gives you the standard match types that you’re used to with the same people telling you what they did to your Mom last night, but the hot new thing for Halo 5 is Warzone. Warzone is a 12v12 that makes Big Team Battle look like a joke. These maps are massive in scale and it takes a whole team to win big. You are against not only each other but also against AI as well. For each kill of any kind you earn points for your side and there are 3 bases to capture. If you manage to capture all 3 you can unlock the enemy’s core allowing your team to get the quick kill. Other things on the map include high value targets to earn 25-150 points towards you 1,000 points for goal. Things start out light in the beginning but the better performing your team is the quicker you unlock the more powerful weapons and vehicles. There are different levels of gear that you can unlock based off of how well your team is doing. In the later parts of the match ups you have pure chaos trying to PvE everything with a complete spam of vehicles and heavy weapons. This is truly where the power of the Xbox One separates this gen from last gen. Other than Warzone the maps are standard looking and what you’d expect from the series so far.
While Halo 5 isn’t the best in the series, it is the best Xbox One exclusive to come out this year. It isn’t the console seller that Microsoft wanted it to be, but it’s worth your money if you already have one. It’s unfortunate that they decided to do away with split screen co-op, but with so many people playing over Xbox Live, finding a full squad of people shouldn’t be that difficult. Halo 5 is not designed well for the solo adventurer, and a full party of people would make campaign more enjoyable than relying on the AI. The new additions to the series on the PvP side add a lot of value and replayablity after the campaign is over. There is intel to find, skulls to hunt, and ranks to level up. This game alone can keep you entertained for the rest of the holiday season. With a few bugs, a lackluster story, and bad companion AI Halo 5 falls short of the upper echelon of the series. I give Halo 5 a 7.5 out of 10.