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Halo 5 campaign a guarded affair

Oct 27, 2015

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Halo 5: Guardians campaignThis review is dedicated solely to the Halo 5: Guardians campaign. Stay tuned to G4 Canada in the coming days as we dig deep into the online features of the game and review the multiplayer portion in a separate review.

There's no doubt that the people behind the Halo franchise know how to craft a heck of a story. Developer 343 Industries gets a second run at this massive franchise with Halo 5: Guardians, but it's a crying shame that once again the gameplay isn't nearly as compelling as the narrative.

Halo 5 takes place soon after the events of Halo 4, where Master Chief seemed to have all but lost his trusty AI Cortana to rampancy. The massive Guardians from the game's title are popping up throughout the universe, and Master Chief and his team of soldiers are tasked with finding out why they're suddenly appearing.

Certain events (which we won't spoil here) result in Master Chief going rogue, and it's up to Spartan Locke and his fireteam to hunt down the series' famous protagonist.

Halo 5: Guardians campaignDespite the game flipping back and forth between the two Spartans, this is by far one of the easiest Halo game's to follow in terms of story. Don't get me wrong - there's still plenty of backstory sprinkled throughout the lushly-detailed game world that only the most hardcore Halo fans will understand. For the most part, though, I understood what I was doing and why I was doing it in Halo 5, at least up until the final chapter or two.

The problem I have with Halo 5's campaign is the lack of evolution in terms of gameplay. Yes, there's a new ground pound attack, a new vehicle to fly around in, and a command feature for AI squadmates, but virtually everything else is completely by-the-books.

In fact, it's downright unimaginative how much the game borrows from past Halo titles. It's one thing to give a knowing nod to well-loved predecessors, but it's quite another to practically be copying and pasting stuff from earlier games.

Whether it's a campaign featuring two characters like in Halo 2, a massive boss that's taken down exactly like the scarabs in Halo 3, or a return of the Prometheans (and their awesome weaponry) from Halo 4, it's deja vu all over again in virtually all of Halo 5's 15 missions.

Halo 5: Guardians campaignOne particuarly boring boss in Halo 5, meanwhile, is recycled an eye-rolling amount of times, and I literally predicted the inevitable "Warthog mission" perfectly.

As for those two main characters, it is interesting to follow their stories, but unlike the Master Chief and Arbiter in Halo 2, Master Chief and Locke play identically in Halo 5. Their HUDs (which are ridiculously cluttered) look different, but everything else is the same. In fact, there were times during the campaign, in between banter and cutscenes, where I briefly forgot who I was playing as.

Following the theme of recent titles in the series, Halo 5 does allow for four-player online co-op, and as you'd expect, it's always better when playing with friends.

Halo 5: Guardians campaignAt first I was impressed how my friendly AI teammates would bravely and dutifully come running for me whenever I was knocked down and needed reviving. But as the game progressed and enemies became smarter and tougher, it was maddening every time those same AI characters would stupidly run through waves of enemies without so much as throwing up an elbow or two.

Playing a few co-op missions with a buddy proved just how much more enjoyable the campaign can be, although there are some design decisions that are downright confounding. For instance, why is only Locke and Master Chief able to tag enemies?

Beyond the four difficulties and the ability to find and activate skull modifiers for each level (two more staples of past Halo games), there isn't a lot to keep you coming back to the campaign.

It's also worth noting that although there 15 missions in Halo 5 - which is nearly double that of Halo 4 - some of them are extremely brief, and the campaign itself shouldn't take much longer than eight hours or so on Normal difficulty.

Halo 5: Guardians campaignI had high hopes for Halo 5, thinking that 343 Industries was playing things safe for Halo 4, but was setting up for much bigger and better things in its follow-up. That's not the case, and while Halo 5 is as technically sound as anything that came before it in the series, it feels far too similar to past games.

It's high time this franchise does something dramatically different. Halo: Combat Evolved revolutioned a genre on home consoles, and for Halo 6, I'd love to see the series return to its past glory.


Halo 5: Guardians campaign
Format: Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site:

Rating: 6 / 10

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