The release of Halo: Reach will bring about the end of an era for Washington-based developer Bungie. It has been nearly ten years since the release of Halo: Combat Evolved, a shooter that almost single-handedly established Microsoft's Xbox console as a serious competitor to Sony's Playstation 2, and while the Xbox would ultimately lose that battle, Halo would go on to become an iconic series — one that would sell over 30-million copies. The latest iteration, Halo: Reach is the last Halo-based project that creators Bungie will be involved with, having reached a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision-Blizzard to create multi-platform titles, something they were unable to do under Microsoft. Breaking ties with Microsoft was the only logical step forward as working on platform-exclusives full-time would have proved constraining, since the PS3 is slowly but steadily gaining ground on the X360 and it would make no sense for Bungie to hold back its content from a huge audience of PS3 gamers. Of course, Bungie's future plans don't seem to have affected the thought and effort put into making Halo: Reach the best Halo game ever, as gameplay videos, screenshots and multiplayer beta have shown.

The gameplay has not been heavily tweaked, but those who missed playing the underrated Halo 3 ODST might be in for a few surprises. Most significantly, the ability to dual-wield weapons has been removed, as has single-use equipment. Minor gameplay additions can be found as well, most notably in multiplayer where players are now rewarded credits after multiplayer games with which they can purchase cosmetic upgrades for their Spartan suits. The ability to choose the gender of your Spartan has been added as well. On a ‘shock-scale', however, all of this pales in comparison to what Microsoft showed off at their E3 press conference earlier this year: Space combat. Arguably the highlight of the show, it looked fluid, frantic and tense.

The character-driven plot of Halo 3: ODST was a hit among Halo fans thanks to strong performances from the Sci-Fi voice talent on display, including Firefly's Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin and Battlestar Galactica's Tricia Helfer. Bungie has promised that Reach will sport a similar narrative structure, with emphasis on character development, while featuring ‘talking Spartans' (something which would have been considered sacrilegious in the past). The events of Halo: Reach take place before the events of Halo: Combat Evolved, but while not a ‘perfect' prequel, a conscious decision was taken by the development team to have Reach take place in the past. The game-world seems to have impacted this decision a great deal as is always the case with Halo games and the return to the setting of the first Halo game is fitting, bringing about a glorious end to Bungie's association with the Halo universe.

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Keywords: gaming