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'Halo' Is Back

The Halo series is big business. Really big. Almost every release in the series has broken sales records. Up through 2012’s Halo 4, the series had sold nearly $3.5 billion worth of games, not counting tie-in novels, toys, soundtrack albums, or a ton of other licensed goods.

There’s a reason for this: The games are good, and are benchmarks for what first-person shooter games can be on consoles. Understandably, Halo 5, released last week for the Xbox One, has a lot to live up to. This is Microsoft’s biggest exclusive to their newest console, and an original Halo game for the system has been a long time coming.

The game’s story picks up after Halo 4’s, letting you play as the series protagonist, Master Chief, as well as newcomer Spartan Locke. You have a team of three other soldiers in your team, played either by the computer or by other friends playing with you over the internet. The voice acting in this game is great, and includes the voice (and face) of actor Nathan Fillion, reprising his role from a previous Halo game.

I enjoyed the game’s campaign as I played, but as I look back at it, I feel like very little really happened over the six hours it took me. The game is very clearly the middle installment in a trilogy, and after the end, all I could think was that everything was set up for a big resolution in Halo 6.

More than the story, though, Halo is best known for its multiplayer modes. The classic four-vs-four, free-for-all, and King of the Hill games are of course available, and feel polished and balanced. New in this game, though, is Warzone. This mode pits massive 12-player teams against each other and against computer-controlled enemies. There are multiple objectives active at the same time on a huge battlefield. If you’re playing with randomly selected teams, it’s chaotic and difficult. If you’re playing with a solid team and a cohesive strategy, the game comes together beautifully and is the most fun I’ve ever had playing Halo online.