Very few video games have pop culture crossover appeal.
Recent games like Grand Theft Auto and Guitar Hero have resonated with both hardcore and casual gamers while drawing attention from non-gamers.
Halo also certainly belongs in that category. The game essentially launched the Xbox, and helped Microsoft grab a foothold in console sales and legitimately compete with Sony and Nintendo. The game became a huge hit and the series became a household name.
A friend of mine, who would be considered a casual gamer, told me the other day that she hated Halo because the game garnered so much attention from her college friends that it became a social buzz kill for her.
The games impact on society should be credited to developer Bungie, which helped bring online multiplayer gaming to the forefront with the Halo series.
Well, Bungies run with Halo is now over with the release of Halo: Reach, the final game in the series from the Seattle-area developer.
Microsoft will reportedly continue on with the series with another developer, while Bungie is working on an unnamed game with Activision.
Bungie has indeed gone out with a bang with Halo: Reach.
The final outing for Bungie is actually a prequel to the original Halo game, set before series protagonist Master Chief took up the fight against the alien Covenant forces. In this new game, the protagonist is a Spartan soldier sort of like a gun-toting Jedi who is part of a crew trying to defend the planet Reach during a Covenant invasion.
The campaign mode is stellar, but I wouldnt expect anything else. Every game in the series (except maybe Halo: ODST) delivers a solid campaign with an engaging storyline. Even without Master Chief, Halo: Reach continues the tradition of building a strong campaign mode around a good story.
This game also ties together nicely with the original Halo, with the timelines of both games coming close to each other.
From a story mode perspective, Im not sure Halo: Reach is as good as Halo 2 or Halo 3. Both previous games benefited from the inclusion of Master Chief, with whom gamers have built up an emotional attachment through three games.
Your character in Halo: Reach is little more than a number.
But where Halo: Reach sets itself apart is in its multiplayer mode, which is the best so far in the series.
It makes sense that the franchise, which helped define multiplayer gaming for this generation, has its best effort yet in online gaming.
The options are robust, as always. Firefight, a mode from Halo: ODST, is back and pits you against as many enemies as you can handle.
One of the online options includes a level editor. You can customize just about anything, and the developers took everything that has worked in four games and tweaked it for the better.
Halo: Reach will likely sell more than any other game this year. The game grossed $200 million on its first day in stores. The mark broke the franchise record, and deservedly so, as its probably the most complete game in the series.