What’s the biggest change being made for Bungie’s final Halo game? Some would argue that the visuals, powered by a brand new graphics engine, make the greatest impact. Sure, Halo: Reach looks better than any Halo before it — but that’s not what I was taken aback by. Others would argue the lack of Master Chief makes Reach feel different from its predecessors. Yes, the Spartan-III jumps a bit differently, but that doesn’t define Reach‘s new emotional direction. No, the biggest game-changer is this: the Covenant don’t speak English.

Before you angrily hit the “Back” button on your browser, hear me out. In the previous Halo games, the Covenant were like movie villains; they could even quip one-liners at you. Some would even squeal, comically, as they ran away from an overpowered Master Chief. However, because Halo Reach isn’t a story about a triumphant victory — rather, a tragedy against an overwhelming alien force — Bungie was left with a challenge: how do you reinvent the Covenant — familiar to a generation of Halo gamers — and make them threatening again? You make them truly alien.

While it may seem like a rather cosmetic change, this creative decision represents a maturity in Bungie’s storytelling abilities. The developer wants you to take the story seriously — so much so that the flaming helmet included in the $150 Legendary Edition can’t be used in the campaign. (Apparently, having someone’s head on fire in cutscenes drastically reduces its gravitas. )

Continue reading Preview: Halo: Reach (campaign)

JoystiqPreview: Halo: Reach (campaign) originally appeared on Joystiq on Wed, 23 Jun 2010 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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