HALO REACH BETA Hands-on: My Backpack's Got Jets


My backpack’s got jets, but I’m not Boba the Fett.  I’m a red Spartan here to kill some blue Spartans.

The Halo: Reach Beta has officially launched on Monday May 3, but I was fortunate enough to play last week during the Friends and Family time - though so many codes were given out early it felt like the regular beta release.  Regardless of the amount of players online, you never were without a game.

The new menu system and friends list are a definite improvement over a system that was not broken to begin with.  How you can take a mouse trap and make it a mouse nuke is beyond me, but Bungie did it well.  You are now able to see your friends in the same list as you, how many people they are playing with, who they are playing with (provided the party is on your friends list), and simply invite them to your party without leaving the screen or pulling up the Xbox Guide.

The game plays similar to other Halo games.  You move smoothly and fluidly, but your jump has been significantly reduced.  I can’t tell you how many times I failed to jump up onto a chair or table.  But that’s good.  This is supposed to be a prequel to the eliteness of the Master Chief and his kind.  You aren’t the most fashionable spartan on the planet in this one.

Speaking of fashion, the new credit system that is implemented allows you to save and spend “money” on armor that you covet... Because you know you want that flashlight on your helmet.  In the beta, there are three different helmets, each different prices and each with different attachments.  The beta offers no benefit from any of them - other than looking sweet as you taunt your opponents - and its unclear as to whether the final game will offer any enhancements going forward. There are armor and combat bonuses listed under some of the armor pieces, though. The credit system is a bit unclear as to why you earned 196 credits this game and 40 credits the last game, but you do have the ability to track your “commendations” on the Bungie website.  Here, you can clearly see that there are milestones to certain medals and tasks that earn you some real fake-cheddar to splurge on your fake-self.

The game looks fantastic.  Armor damage and reflections look good so far, and the levels are designed to almost a finished quality.  But that’s not why you are reading.  You want to hear about my jetpacks.

Yes, you can fly.  Yes, you can sprint.  Yes, you can cloak yourself.  Yes, you can armor lock yourself by punching the ground forcing all your enemies to dance around you frustrated until your ability runs out.  All of these perks are set up by a class system that you choose at the beginning of each round or after each death.  Trust me, using a jet pack isn’t always your best option.  There is going to be a lot of strategy involved in this feature of Halo: Reach.  There are also equalizers. Fall Damage has returned to the game, so a fall from too high will dish out some pain. Did I mention that you can play as Elites and “evade” - or roll - a good distance to avoid taking fire?

The game is a beta.  It has its problems and glitches, some graphical issues and sound problems, but at least this first person shooter launched a beta to fix the problems.  I mean, its not like they are just throwing a game together, hurling it at the Xbox, hoping it sticks and that nobody notices care package glitches, shotguns that fire across the map, and rockets that fire when you die.

If you don’t have a copy of Halo 3: ODST (required for the Beta if you didn’t get one of those giveaway keys), buy one.  The Halo: Reach Beta is totally worth every ounce of time you can put into it.  Find problems, glitches, exploits, and issues and then head to Bungie.net to post them up.  Bungie has operators standing by to read your comments and make some changes!


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