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REVIEW: Halo 5: Guardians (Campaign)

Whilst Halo 5: Guardians has arguably the shortest campaign in the series, it does offer a nice constant flow of engaging gameplay. This, combined with new mechanics makes for a refreshing experience all-round.

With a missing Master Chief and mysterious attacks taking place on colony worlds, that sought after concept of “peace” is quickly shattered as the universe turns into complete and utter chaos. Usually, Chief would be the one to clean up messes like this, however it’s now up to Fireteam Osiris, an elite squad of Spartan-IV Supersoldiers, to hunt down the Chief and find answers as to why the galaxy is in constant threat.

Much like Halo 2, the campaign is played through multiple perspectives – one of Agent Locke, leader of Fireteam Osiris, and the other through Master Chief himself. No matter who you’re playing as, you’ll always have three other squad members to help out. In the case of Locke, it’s his fellow Spartans, whilst the Chief has grouped up with Blue Team. No ordinary members of Blue Team, these three Spartans are Chief’s oldest and must trusted comrades in battle.

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Covenant locations such as this are brought to life in spectacular fashion.

Now, I’ve always thought of Halo as a highly vibrant and graphically impressive series, respective of each game’s release date of course. And Halo 5 is no different – filled with insanely detailed environments, backgrounds, and character models, there’s a lot to just simply admire when not downing Covenant or Promethian enemies.

I felt Halo 4 looked the same throughout the entire campaign with no real substance to the world you’re supposed to be emerged in. Thankfully, Halo 5 is the opposite – I actually felt a part of the game, and that was thanks to its graphics and sheer attention to detail. Everywhere you go represents each world and race perfectly.

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Familiar enemies prove no match for the Chief.

One particular part of the game that truly left an impact on me was when visiting the Elite Home World, a gorgeous location that looks like nothing I’ve ever seen in any other Halo before. This particular mission truly shows off next-gen Halo at its best, truly bringing to life an important part of the Covenant.

The sound in Halo 5 is incredibly crisp and clear, letting you hear absolutely everything in a given moment, whether it’s a Banshee in the distance or a group of Crawlers scurrying towards your location. All of these noises combined with the constant firing of Battle Rifles and other various weaponry makes for a truly intense and engaging experience.

Going into Halo 5, I expected the hordes of enemies routinely attacking me, and that’s exactly what you should expect. However, with the introduction of Spartan abilities, that traditional Halo gameplay gets a little spiced up, making for a new sense of gameplay. These abilities actually make you feel like you’re playing as a Spartan, not just a regular run of the mill soldier.

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The mantis makes a welcomed return in Halo 5.

Just to mention a few, the Spartan Charge allows you to barge into an enemy (or group of enemies) at full speed, making for a decent amount of damage. Another includes Clamber – this is a simple but very effective ability that lets you climb onto ledges, enabling you to reach those useful vantage points. My personal favourite has to be Ground Pound, a form of attack that has you “charge” your thrusters mid-air, eventually unleashing that force down onto anyone or anything unlikely enough to be underneath you.

With each new Halo usually comes a few new weapons here and there. Well, Halo 5 is no different, offering up the Hydra – an airburst missile launcher, allowing you to cause quite a fair amount of damage when used properly. Then you have the Plasma Caster, a weapon that shoots out balls of plasma that bounces off surfaces such as walls and floors. Think Brute Shot…but with plasma. Staple weapons such as the Battle Rifle, Assault Rifle, and Carbine are still very much in play, too.

Although most missions are fairly short, they are filled to the brim with enemies and lots of alternative pathways to get to your destination, making for speedrunning a much more experimental task. Missions don’t feel linear as there’s plenty of room for exploration, which is something I’d recommend as you might find a hidden skull or pieces of intel. This also adds strong replayability value, making sure you find all collectibles, which in turn allows you to explore each mission thoroughly.

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What could Master Chief and his comrades be looking at so intently?

Something that disappointed me in Halo 5 was the lack of Chief – out of the 15 missions, you only play as him in three. This would be fine if Locke wasn’t such a boring character, and the fact you play as him for the majority is certainly a let down. It’s certainly interesting as to why Locke is so hell-bent on finding the Chief, but as a character, he really isn’t too exciting. More Chief, less Locke.

Either way, each mission will bring you the usual enemies you’ve come accustomed to over the years, whether it be Grunts, Elites, Watchers, Knights, or Hunters. This time around, a new Promethean is introduced simply known as the Soldier, an all-rounder capable of teleporting randomly to put you off your aim. They can be annoying at times but certainly keep you on your feet.

You’re never alone in any given battle as your team mates are there to help you out in various ways. You are able to command your squad to focus their efforts on a particular enemy or vehicle, making your life just that much easier. If you come close to dying, you’ll lay on the floor and are able to shout one of your team mates to get you up and back into the fight.

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Popping headshots with the Battle Rifle is as satisfying as ever.

You would think a game that relies of squad-type gameplay would encourage local co-op, but unfortunately there is no such option in Halo 5, which is very disappointing. Playing through the campaigns with friends were some of the most memorable moments in Halo for me, and I’m sure many others. You can still play co-op with up to four players, but it will have to be through Xbox Live.

Halo 5 certainly leaves you with more questions than answers, which should be expected as Halo seems to do a good job at that. You’ll more than likely have an absolute blast going through the campaign, albeit on the short side. Just got to wait for Halo 6 now…

Rating: 7.5/10

Available On: Xbox One

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