Halo 5: Guardians - Review

Author: Felice Di Giuseppe
Date: 2020-07-30 17:41:39
A year after the release of the Master Chief Collection, it is legitimate to say that much more was expected for the debut of Halo on Xbox One. Net of the goodness of a remaster so vast and attentive to detail, the events that have afflicted his multiplayer sector have certainly damaged the symbolic value of an ambitious and celebratory package, which bore the emblem of the Xbox symbol series as a dowry. And that's how, in an inexorably doubtful scenario, the franchise that was Bungie's is facing a new challenge: the debut of the first unpublished episode of the series on the new Microsoft console, the second under the direction of 343 Industries.

Redmond is without a doubt a software house that enjoys a certain trust in the environment. With Halo 4 (here our review) he has in fact embarked on a path of playful and artistic renewal that has not been accepted with who knows what disappointment, indeed. However, it is inevitable to note that this direction, however respectful of the series' glorious past, has a justly different flavor. In short, we are still talking about a product far from its creators and which by force of circumstances cannot follow a path identical to the canons and their vision.

With these premises and the great promise of 1080p and 60fps made just a few E3s ago, Halo 5: Guardians arrives in stores in support of a potentially unrepeatable winter lineup, to continue on its new and more modern journey. A path that starts again from exactly where Halo 4 had greeted the owners of Xbox 360, cheered at the end of the last generation with a technically monstrous first person shooter and which still manages to have its say.

In his virtuous and fun shooter nature, Halo has always shown a certain propensity towards multiplayer. In turn, the campaign mode did not stand by and watch, inebriating each issue with an epic tale to support a wide and amazing level design and a degree of challenge from the top of the class. And this is precisely the component that, in being fundamentally "normal", did not convince me during the road test that accompanied me towards this review. Turning away from the spoiler lands and mentioning only a few details that I believe are fundamental for the evaluation, I will explain why.

The Halo 5: Guardians campaign is based on premised scripts and orchestrated in a very unconvincing way. A narrative that justifies unclear events and that I found myself accepting without asking too many questions, just like you do with those films in which exposure matters little and which are looked at only in the name of the spectacular and crackling action that follows . The problem is that, shooting madly as Spartan Locke and much less as Master Chief (yes, there are only three out of fifteen missions in the role of the Chief), desperately trying to be epic, the story is almost flat and unnecessarily slow.

The events continue with very few revelations and compelling moments until mission twelve, where for a moment there is a clear opportunity to completely reverse the situation, which is then sensationally wasted by 343 Industries. Basically, that magical contribution still inherent in Bungie is missing, that something extra that makes you gloriously fly towards the Olympus of video games, that epic flavor that historically separated a Halo from the other shooters and that in Halo 5: Guardians are savored only from time to time. A real shame, because above all in the splendid cut-scenes you can see directorial and artistic choices with a lot of potential, which however end up being promises of gameplay rarely kept, simple moments with a sublime and commendable visual impact, with a good test of the actors involved in motion capture sessions, but that sometimes make you think it would have been fantastic ... to actually be able to play them.

As expected, however, behind this uncertain execution there is a superfine and fun gameplay, with some tricks and innovations that make it more modern, even without reinventing the wheel. I refer in particular to the sudden movements that can be implemented with the pressure of the B button, the breakthrough addressed to the unstable barriers (always very well recognizable) and to the enemy armor entrusted to RB, to the fists falling from above, always in the hands of the right backbone, and the possibility of climbing which opens up to new exploration scenarios for Halo.

But above all the most impressive introduction, in the absence of real companions, is the management of the support team. Thanks to the down button of the directional cross you can give orders to artificial intelligence, simplifying almost all of the gunfights thanks also to the efficiency that the team members show when it is time to heal downed comrades, including the player.

The same encouraging speech can be made for the cooperative mode, since the design of the settings continually winks at a boundless variety of approaches, made up of alternating vehicles, weapons and situations that can be tackled from many points of view. Having a sniper with his eyes on the battle, two support soldiers engaged on the two opposite sides of a level and an assailant to frontally confront enemy forces is not only always possible, but also damn funny.