On October 27th 2015, Halo 5: Guardians released and was very much a well anticipated game which would continue the story left off from Halo 4.
The campaign begins with an introduction of Dr. Halsey, who created the Spartan II’s. The opening mission features Fireteam Osiris through a harrowing Halo jump and move through the chaos to their objective. This mission consists of the team traversing a Forerunner facility in pursuit of Jul Mdama, a Covenant fanatic. His demise was a let down to the followers of the lore, as this character has such an incredible backstory and 343 just killed him. Moving on, the Master Chief and his childhood friends who compose Blue Team are featured shortly after. Exploring an abandoned ONI facility. In this mission you must make your way through dark passages and cramp corridors to stop a group of Covenant. During this mission a random vision of Cortana appears, beckoning the hero to Meridian. As a result, Fireteam Osiris are called to track down the Spartan II’s and also find Cortana. She then functions as a plot device from this point on and used to explain the Chief’s actions in the game. Meridian does not seem overly exciting as a mission until the campaign begins to show the underground Forerunner complex.
Halo has always excelled at its alien mysteries and the Forerunner structure on Meridian is definitely an enjoyable one. Sadly, the game just provides hordes of enemies in all areas and there is no structured layout to their appearance. You enter a region and behold, you have a large quantity of enemies to defeat. By Meridian it becomes very repetitive and hinders the gameplay. Warden Eternal, a new character is introduced and he is a tenacious foe, and in fact quite dull compared to previous characters in Halo. There is no build up to his appearance at all and just appears to be an enemy created just for the sake of the game. After this boss and a magnificent fight between the Chief and Locke Blue Team board the Guardian as it prepares to depart. This mission is unique in a sense as it incorporates a fast paced element, and excels at providing a sense of urgency in the wake of the Guardian’s activation. A new location is introduced one without any build up and created just for this game it seems. Genesis, a world that holds a great power. 343 succeed once more in creating an artificial alien environment which wants you to explore.
Sadly, the exploration is let down by 343 and their focus on Fireteam Osiris. After activating structures and defeating the Warden, Cortana makes contact with Blue Team. She explains her survival and then begins to inform the others of what her future plans may entail which shall serve as the remainder of the plot. Fireteam Osiris then hold the candle for a significant portion of the game. The redeeming quality of this is the exploration of Sanghelios, home world of the Elites. You are able to explore ancient temples that predate the Covenant, and hint to the warrior culture of the Elites. Also the mission to secure the Arbiter features murals in the final room that feature first contact with the Prophets. This was a beautiful addition to the game and I applaud 343 for this.
Sanghelios serves as a means to reach the Chief, by making use of a dormant Guardian. Cortana, makes an appearing and shows that she is truly a threat rather than an ally which has slowly been mentioned throughout the game thus far. After a chaotic battle showing the Arbiter and his forces defeating the last of the Covenant at Sunaion, Osiris board the Guardian as it departs for Genesis.
An impressive part of the next mission is Osiris scaling down the Guardian as it attempts to remove them from itself. The fast paced environment here was effectively incorporated and made this mission quite memorable. Another memorable part of this mission is, Exuberant Witness the monitor of Genesis.
She provides the background to the installation, what Cortana is trying to achieve. She is also a humorous addition as she states the obvious during combat, which makes it enjoyable during the repetitive gameplay and hordes of enemies. The campaign begins to draw to a close, and the following mission reveals the fracturing truce between Warden and Cortana. Warden shows his distrust for Blue Team, and Cortana ignores and even removes the Warden from combat or at least impedes him. The dialogue between characters shows the distrust for Cortana, even the Chief confronting the shadow of his former friend. This mission is an emotional point for the campaign, with Cortana finally revealing the power she has at her disposal. She disables and removes of Warden, before finally sealing away Blue Team. She does this so that she may complete her plans and show them a peaceful future she shall achieve.
In terms of visual elements this and the final mission show the artistic talent at 343. The final mission features an arctic location, and shows the numerous Guardians Cortana has summoned.
This mission shows the erratic and odd behavior of Cortana. She is unstable, cold and manipulative in her dialogue towards Osiris and uses their past against them. Overall the final mission is my favorite as it shows the overwhelming odds that Osiris must overcome. In the end Blue Team is freed and Cortana then begins to attack numerous worlds, and Earth is her target as she shuts down all technology and preaches the Mantle, and how it is hers to reclaim.
The campaign has its high and lows, and overall was quite dissatisfying in comparison to Halo 4. Cortana, who was built up as a much lovable character is destroyed in this game and replaced. This is done in the name of incorporating an age old plot device of rogue machines to destroy us all. Halo was one of few titles to make use of artificial intelligence as allies, not power hungry machines bent on exterminating the known galaxy. 343 have sadly let the lore fans down with this move in Halo 5.
The multiplayer element to Halo 5 is very successful. The game featured a vast array of maps available on launch. Furthermore, 343 removed the loadout option which allowed players
to spawn with much more powerful gear. Halo 4 featured this and essentially shifted the balance of power. By removing this 343 once more evened the gameplay. Multiplayer also featured a mode called Warzone. Essentially, a large scale maps with objectives and AI controlled enemies. Objectives for example may be to kill a particular boss present on the map. This mode in fact moved away from traditional Halo multiplayer and is a successful addition.
Overall, Halo 5 Guardians has moved backwards with their campaign and this is a shame to the rich universe they have previously developed. What redeems the game is the multiplayer experience, which has taken the problems of Halo 4 and corrected them to make the play style more even. I would rate the game 6.5/10, due to the campaign letting the game down. This is Reclaimer signing off.