Newest Halo installment doesn't reach far

Halo: Reach, the final installment of the Halo series, is polished, varied and incredibly fun, though it retains at its core the same gaming style that has made the rest of the series so successful.

The events of the game are set in the year 2552, right before the original Halo begins. The planet Reach is one of humanity's few surviving military hubs, and as the game begins, the Covenant are beginning their invasion.

Reach is by far the most engrossing installment of the Halo series. The cut-scenes are gorgeous and the storyline is more than just a weak setting to set the mood for alien killing. Players will find themselves caring about the events and characters far more than they normally would with a first-person shooter.

Reach tries to vary the single-player game play by adding more vehicular combat like spaceship fighting. These missions are fun for the most part, but they highlight the monotony of the primary missions. Usually, one must trudge through corridors of alien baddies alone, but the first few missions give the impression that one is fighting alongside a group of super-soldiers. This quickly devolves into the same dynamic present in previous Halo iterations, though the super-soldiers actually fight against the might of the Covenant unlike allies, which provide little else besides extra ammo.

Multiplayer features have always made the Halo series popular, and Reach does not disappoint. There are classic multiplayer modes like Capture the Flag as well as new favorites like Firefight, where a group of players must fend off waves of Covenant forces. The new weapons balance the game, and most of the matches depend on who has the most skill, not who has the biggest gun. It's refreshing, intense and tactical.

One new feature of Reach is the addition of armor abilities. Among other technologies, players can now use jet packs, sprint or become invisible on command. While they certainly complicate the strategies necessary to win a match, armor abilities do not change the core game play in any significant way.

Halo: Reach is an impressive game that has no major flaws, but it certainly doesn't offer anything incredibly daring or unique. Its polish and enhancements will keep fans happy for a long time to come, but they will not convert any skeptics or haters. It is a classic Halo game, and, as a week's worth of sleepless nights can attest to, there is nothing wrong with that.