The other week, one of the biggest releases in the recent history of entertainment made over $100 million in sales in around seven days. Impressive, eh?
Of course it is. But just how impressive depends on your disposition towards video games. Halo Reach, the last Halo game in what will probably be a while, was released to critical and consumer acclaim.
The creator of the game, Bungie, has been inundated with awards since it released the first Halo game, way back in 2001, and is ending its ownership of the franchise with its most ambitious Halo title yet.
A tall order. For many, Halo has become the byword for quality, competitive online console gaming and has fascinated millions with its complicated and sprawling storyline and sparkling presentation.
That’s why, when released last week, Halo Reach announced itself onto London by dressing up a stuntman in the iconic green Halo spacesuit and having him fly around Trafalgar Square in a jet-pack like a Bond rip-off (pictured above).
You can say what you like about PR stunts but this is par for the course for a new Halo title. All this glamour won’t detract a savvy gaming press, hungry for its next revolutionary savaging, from giving it bad scores.
For despite being above-par console shooters, the Halo titles aren’t groundbreaking or innovative. Think of the Halo games like JK Rowling: not at all original but bloody good fun and well put-together.
This new one, Halo Reach, is not too dissimilar to Halo 3 – the award hoarding, quadrillion-selling predecessor to Bungie’s Halo swansong.
If it had been, if Bungie had royally screwed this one up, the gaming press would have pulled it apart. So far, it has only garnered a handful of decent criticisms, drowned out by a staggering number of high scores, as the reviews for Halo Reach come in. It is, after all, not an original game.
Once upon a time, even I, a gamer with nothing but apathy for the Xbox flagship shooter, became hooked on the online side of Halo 3. Driven to rank up quicker and beat my betters, I found the competitive online fighting both exciting and skilful. It was almost continuous sweaty-palmed gaming, something I rarely find now on my new chosen shooty game, Battlefield Bad Company 2.
I suspect Halo Reach will entrap me in much the same way Halo 3 did. So Bungie can do little wrong, it seems. A refinement of an online gaming set-up which makes today’s other top online shooters look phoned-in by comparison.
Call Of Duty and Battlefield could learn a lot from Halo 3’s online side, and shouldn’t attempt to compare themselves to Halo Reach for the next, oh I don’t know, three or four incarnations.
It’s got decent to brilliant reviews, it’s selling in the millions and it’s played by those same millions online, every day. And it was guaranteed all of this before it even hit the shelf. Now, that is impressive.
So, is Halo Reach actually any good? I’ll get back to you on that. I haven’t even scratched the surface.