Halo 5: Guardians
Halo 5: Guardians feels just as good — often better — than its predecessors, making it a welcome refresh of the series. The developer, 343 Industries, has made a ton of smart tweaks and decisions to bring Halo up to date while preserving the core that always set it apart.
The Halo series represents a cultural significance in video games that is unmatched by other first-person shooters. Any complaints or shortcomings in that series can be fixed in the next year’s edition.
Halo 5: Guardians plays faster than all previous games in the series. “Halo” games are usually a mixed bag when comparing their narrative to their multiplayer offerings, and “Halo 5” is no exception.
The graphics, sound and overall presentation of this mission and Halo 5: Guardians on the whole make it the best looking game in the Xbox One lineup. Every environment and character model look like the team took full advantage of all the Xbox One’s processing power.
As Halo 5: Guardians opens, you’re introduced to two Spartan squads: Blue Team, which is composed of the Master Chief and three surviving Spartan-IIs — Linda, Kelly and Frederic; and Fireteam Osiris, led by former ONI assassin Jameson Locke along with former ODST Edward Buck and new characters Olympia Vale and Holly Tanaka. As Osiris is dispatched on a secret mission to rescue Dr. Halsey, the creator of the Spartan program, Blue Team is assigned to secure a derelict research vessel in danger of being discovered by the Covenant.
From there the Chief defies orders and sets off to investigate a mysterious message from a familiar voice, and Locke and Osiris are ordered to bring him in by whatever means necessary. Halo 5’s story is less scattered and confused than Halo 4’s, and 343 has wisely ditched hiding important backstory in terminals scattered throughout the game. But I was often confused by the game’s narrative priorities.
Halo 5: Guardians is full of fun new ways to propel yourself around the arenas, from short jetpack boosts to parkour-style maneuvers. The level design is as good as it’s ever been, with huge, sprawling maps that rely on verticality more than prior games; the new abilities are all designed to make you move around them. That extends to the melee attacks, too. Halo has always had powerful close-range moves that can be accessed at any time — it more or less invented the concept — and Halo 5: Guardians adds new abilities like a rush attack and a ground pound that are hugely satisfying to pull off. Again, these additions are all in service of moving you around the expansive stages, since they require you either to propel yourself into the air or charge at enemies head-on.