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The Halo 5: Guardians Campaign - Sold Short

Halo

is one of the few shooters still known for its blockbuster campaigns, as opposed to an endless multiplayer grind. We’re giving the singleplayer and co-op offerings of Halo 5: Guardians their own treatments, splitting this polarised title down the middle. From snowy slopes to sun-bleached canyons, here’s our review of the Halo 5 campaign. With two teams of four Spartans apiece, Guardians raises the bar for the breadth of a Halo game’s plot, and that comes with its ups and downs. Sadly, the latter are more obvious than the former. The game gets going with hardly a moment’s pause, launching you into an explosive cutscene of Spartan Locke’s gung-ho Blue Team carving their way down a snowy mountainside, in the midst of a battle so explosive, so stuffed with eye candy it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. You’re hunting a criminal. Halo 5 Guardians Screenshot 4 We’ll spare you explicit spoilers, but suffice to say the story doesn’t stay so clear cut. With a civil war between the Covenant raging, and the Prometheans introduced in Halo 4 making their presence felt, there’s a constant torrent of battles fought all over the galaxy. That ambition for true space opera is praiseworthy, but sadly developer 343 Industries’ lofty goals just don’t mesh with the games paltry run-time, which sat below seven hours for us, at least on Normal difficulty. There are too many characters who just don’t have the time to grow past a series of one-liners. The visuals here are by and large fantastic, with epic, open vistas in view at every turn, but no amount of shiny presentation can bring the cast to life. This inability of the game to grapple with its scale is a disappointment. Older Halo games were typified by a series of clearly defined threats, and a tight, epic quest to tackle that adversary. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting of course, and many of the new plot devices 343 have thrown into the mix are interesting, but none of them get enough screentime to feel fully cooked. Throw in an unforgivably weak cliffhanger ending, and no amount of smart dialogue can pull your attention back from the brink. Halo 5 Guardians Screenshot 5 Compounding these issues is a lack of innovation. The only changes in individual gameplay are to your movement and melee abilities, and they have very little impact on the singleplayer experience. The other big introduction is the game’s four player teams, allowing for wider co-op play. Obviously Halo: Reach explored this territory before, but now, a player whose health runs flat can be revived by an ally, Destiny-style. You even get a shield boost in the same vein. Tackling harder difficulties, co-op makes for punchy entertainment, but the revive feature puts an unhealthy focus on reckless gameplay. Despite a broader, more experimental plot, this is an easier game to beat than any previous Halo entry. Purists will probably dislike this. We wouldn’t have minded, but combined with the fact you can simply sprint through lots of the game’s battlefields, dodging incoming fire, it’s a little too easy to cheese your way past Halo 5’s challenges. Along the way, your efforts pit you against the latest big bad, a stern voiced robot called the Warden Eternal. He’s rehashed and forgettable, and although Master Chief’s war-weary brushing off of the Warden’s grandstanding shows the game is self-aware, it’s still the same old battlefields and the same old fights. They’re enjoyable, but no more. The story isn’t awful. It’s not even bad. Master Chief gets some of the best exploration of his personality the series has seen, and infighting between Spartans had the potential to be truly memorable. In the end however, the story chokes in its own confines, and ultimately, the campaign is just far too short. Come the game’s sequel, the story will continue, but for now, we’ve been sold pretty short.