Halo 5: Guardians Review

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Compared to its predecessors, Halo 5: Guardians is both similar and different in all the wrong ways. Its campaign, level structure and rushed ending are all uncomfortably similar to Halo 4, while the gameplay leans too heavily towards something you see in Call of Duty or Titanfall. Breathtaking presentation aside, the latest Halo suffers from what I like to call “big budget fatigue”- meaning all effort and money is put towards marketing and graphics, while gameplay design takes on the usual AAA paint-by-the-numbers approach. 

There are no surprises in Halo 5. Every level feels like a permutation of older Halo games. Tank sections? Check! Awkward Warthog driving sections? Check! Bullet-sponge mini bosses in enclosed arenas? Check! You’ve seen it all before, you’ve done it all before, and even though Halo 5: Guardians is the most technically impressive offering to date...I’m left disappointed by the thought of what could've been. HOWEVER! Despite Halo 5 being nothing more than Halo 4.5, it’s still a competent shooter that’s fun while it lasts and can provide hours of multiplayer fun to those who enjoy Halo’s lore and setting. 

Halo 5: Guardians begins with a bang, and the first three missions are exhilarating and impressive. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long before Halo 5 runs out of creativity and ideas. The level designers emphasize verticality more this time around, but honestly, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re doing the same thing over and over and that general linearity still makes the levels feel limiting.


"You’ve seen it all before, you’ve done it all before, and even though Halo 5: Guardians is the most technically impressive offering to date...I’m left disappointed by the thought of what could've been."

Playing the entire campaign in co-op also doesn’t spice up the battles as much as it should. When playing with strangers, everybody just basically goes their own way, and while reviving downed teammates is necessary for progression, the whole team dynamic doesn't actually diversify gameplay. It’s certainly better when playing with friends, but it’s just not as game changing as it seems. Also, why is the infamous lone-wolf master chief being paired with generic teammates? That completely goes against his established character.

The developers have talked a lot about "taking your time" and "exploring" everything within the campaign, but what's there to explore? I have looked into literally every nook and cranny of each level, and the areas couldn't be more linear. I was hoping for some Wolfenstein-esque level designs that offer branching paths and provide wider battlefields, but that's not the case here. Halo 5 is an A to B shooter in every sense.

Fortunately, the gunplay is fantastic, and each weapons handles differently. The developers should certainly be applauded for fine-tuning the shooting mechanics to perfection. Overall, the pacing is much faster compared to previous Halo releases, and the dodge/boost and hover function do add a bit of variety to an otherwise familiar structure.


"If it wasn’t for the Halo name slapped on the box, this would be remembered as just another sci-fi FPS. The 5-6 hour campaign has its moments, but it’s essentially disappointing and way too short."

The little changes and improvements are even more noticeable when playing competitively. Multiplayer remains the game’s biggest focus, and it certainly delivers the most fun. I’ve only had the opportunity to play during the developer-scheduled sessions over the weekend, but it was enough to get a taste of what the experience has to offer. Warzone, a massive 12v12 battle with AI combatants tossed into the mix, is an exhilarating rush of chaos and strategy. Larger map sizes provide more flanking opportunities, and there’s more of a team dynamic (even with strangers) than in the campaign player co-op. Of course you always have your standard modes, like Arena and such, but none of them are as much of a standout as Warzone.

Halo 5: Guardians is mostly everything you'd expect from a Halo game, which can be both a good and bad thing depending on how you look at it. Personally, I won’t be returning to Halo 5 much after a few more days of multiplayer. There just isn’t much new or exciting material here to keep me invested when compared to other online shooters out there. If it wasn’t for the Halo name slapped on the box, this would be remembered as just another sci-fi FPS. The 5-6 hour campaign has its moments, but it’s essentially disappointing and way too short. If you’re a die hard (and I mean die hard) Halo fan, you probably don’t care that the series isn't evolving as much as it should by now, but for everyone else, it’s probably best to just wait for a price drop.

Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Xbox One

7

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