Finally! I can now see what is going on with Chief! Is he good? Bad? Did he go AWOL? Where is Cortana? I was mostly concerned about the health and well-being of that perfect body of an AI. Anyway, you may have picked up that the Halo followers were nothing short of ready for this game to be released. We had high hopes, high expectations, and some happy grass ready to get high. Let’s see how it held up.
Blue Ball Score: 18 out of 25 balls
Gameplay on Halo 5 was pretty much the same as all the other Halo games. Controls were pretty much the same, mechanics were similar, and the maps were excellent as always. There were some new additions to the gameplay such as: infinite running, everyone has a jetpack, etc., but these will be covered in later sections.
I will briefly discuss the feel of campaign maps in general (I will dive into the specifics in the appropriate sections), but the maps were quite large. There was a ton to do, but it was overwhelming at times. I would definitely recommend playing the campaign at least twice. Once to get the storyline and once for exploration – especially if you are interested in learning some backstories, finding Easter eggs, skulls, etc. It is definitely possible to play through the game without exploration, but if exploration is what you desire, then Halo 5 offers it.
Also, you were able to interact more with the AI and have more control over their actions. This was a much appreciated addition to the gameplay as it made it feel more realistic.
Finally, there were several references that most gamers would not get unless they were a Halo fanatic. There were character mentions, events, and lines that seemed a bit out of place unless you knew the Halo backstory, read the books, and even followed the many different backstories and side stories in the previous Halo games. Although this is definitely interesting and cool to Halo fanatics, for the average gamer or casual Halo follower this is frustrating to say the least.
For all these reasons, I give gameplay a 4/5 balls.
As mentioned above, there were several references made throughout the campaign that may have seemed out of place. Personally, I am not a Halo fanatic so I found myself confused at times. Say what you want, but I have not read any of the books, nor have I done many of the side stories or Easter eggs in the previous games. So, some of these references required some good ol’ wikipedia’ing for me.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. So the fact that you cannot be a true Halo fan is our fault? The review must suffer due to your incompetence? Well, another pain point for me was the lack of personal connection to the characters. In the past Halo games, I felt emotions and ties to the characters while playing. Hell, I damn near cried when Sergeant Johnson died. Chief was always the strong and steady badass in the first trilogy set (Halo, Halo 2, and Halo 3), but in Halo 4 we began to see Chief change. We began to see the strong and steady turn into emotional and unpredictable. This led us all to believe that Halo 5 was going to reveal an even more unpredictable Chief. Well, that wasn’t the case. You only played as Chief for around a quarter of the campaign. What about the other characters/side you play as? That was even worse. This was where I was really disappointed. There was hardly any backstory provided and the little bit that was provided was vague at best. I wanted to be able to connect to the characters and understand who they are and why they are that way.
OK, OK, I got it. It wasn’t very personable. What about the story itself? Disappointing yet again. You start the campaign off with a simple objective “Find and get Chief” with Chief’s objective “Find and retrieve Cortana.” So, in the end, both teams find Chief and Cortana. Without any spoilers, the ending pretty much leaves it at that. There weren’t many twists and turns along the way. In other words, by mission 2 or 3, you could pretty much guess what was going to happen.
So, as you can see, the campaign in its entirety was truly disappointing. There were some campaign-specific gameplay improvements, such as: slightly more control of friendly AI (which was like giving a 4-year-old directions), hulk smashes to the ground, thrust melee, and some larger maps for varying styles. But the lack of depth to the plot and the lack of character depth leads me to give this a 2/5 balls.
There is a catch though. The “social” and fun playlists offered bonus points that you could use to spawn vehicles or weapons into the game. This, obviously, would create some unfairness. But, as I mentioned these were the social playlists. The ranked and competitive playlists were much more balanced and jetpacks weren’t nearly as effective as they were in Halo 4. In summary, Halo 5 multiplayer brought back the necessary balance and true skills needed to be a self-proclaimed BR master. Get 4-shotted kid!!!
There were some new playlists introduced. One of notable mention is “Breakout.” Imagine the classic SWAT playlist combined with a Call of Duty “Search and Destroy” style of play and rules. This playlist was extremely fun to play.
In conclusion, the multiplayer felt more like Halo 3, but with some modern additions (to be expected). For us older gamers, this was much appreciated and we truly appreciated this thought. It made the new generation of gamers realize that they ain’t got nothing on our 4 shot BR skills. Most importantly, they saw what real skill looked like and felt like (just 4 shots). For these reasons, I give this a perfect 5/5 balls.
Regarding audio, Halo 5 does not come up short. Between the soundtrack (which wasn’t as good as previous Halo soundtracks, but still good) and the intense sound effects, 343 Industries has brought an immersive experience yet again. The character voices were also good. Obviously, the characters themselves were dry, but we will blame that on the writers as the actors were simply reading a script.
I give this a 4/5 balls due to the “dry” characters. (Blame this on the script writers folks).
I suppose the technical answer is yes. But, I fear that you may be lost at times without having any backstory whatsoever. Now, admittedly, the intended audience is those avid Halo players because most people who play Halo are followers of it to some degree. But, due to the excessive references that require additional knowledge, Halo 5 is hardly a standalone game in and of itself.
That being said, I believe that one could play this game without any previous Halo knowledge and figure out the basic premises of the game. But, there aren’t many gamers out there who would find this acceptable. Also, due to the lack of character and plot depth, playing this game without any previous Halo knowledge would make any gamer hate Halo immediately.
Due to the lack of standalone ability, lack of plot depth, and its lacking nature of setting up a good 3rd game, I give this a 3/5 balls.
In conclusion, Halo 5 was a mediocre game at best. The multiplayer and (always good) graphics/sound were definitely the only things that saved this game. The campaign was lacking in several areas, the game could not be a very good standalone game, and the plot did not do a good job of setting up a good 3rd game. For these reasons, this review gets a grand total of 18 out of 25 balls.