Tucked away in a tiny corner of the Xbox area at the Brasil Game Show is a curtain. I’m not what you could call a big fan of curtains – you know, generally speaking – but this one I liked. A lot. See, behind this particular curtain was my opportunity to have a first little look-see at Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer. Yeah, I know right!?
Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve played a Halo, so I thought I might be a little rusty, but the game was so smooth, and so easy to play, that I was back into the swing of things almost immediately. I was up against some hardcore fans (judging by T-Shirts and whatnot), so the fact that everything was so intuitive and simple to figure out in the face of some pretty intense pressure was, I think, a testament to the skill of the folks over at 343 Industries.
As you’d probably expect, graphically speaking Halo 5 was in a different league to any other iteration of the franchise – even factoring in the re-mastering shenanigans that went on with The Master Chief Collection. Again, I wasn’t playing on the biggest or best screen, but everything really, really popped. The colours and contrasts were genuinely stunning, and even my aging eyes had little trouble picking out the smallest details. In terms of processing and all that under-the-hood jazz, the whole experience was super, silky smooth. The mechanics were also commendably great. For example, the air con behind that magical curtain was turned up to 11, but my violent shivering wasn’t enough to hamper my performance, thanks to some really rather receptive, intuitive, and responsive shooting mechanics.
Make no mistake, this absolutely looks like a next-gen title worthy of the name – and it seems 343 have been busy harnessing all the power and potential of Microsoft’s next-gen console. A lot of people wondered why there wasn’t a Halo ready at the Xbox One’s launch – and it’s a fair question given the two things are virtually synonymous with each other – but by the looks of it, that extra time has been very, very well spent.
It was also apparent that the Halo folks have been paying attention to other First Person Shooters that have proved popular during their hiatus. There’s a fair amount of tried and tested crowd-pleasers in here, and Halo 5 manages to seem fresh and up-to-date. The map I played was expansive and well thought-out; in essence, as good as, if not better, than any I’ve recently played in, say, a Call of Duty. It probably wasn’t quite on a par with some of the bigger, sprawling Battlefield Maps – although, in fairness it very well might have been, it’s just that some inconsiderate bastards kept shooting me whilst I was trying to have a look – but I don’t think that’ll bother too many people.
In short, Halo 5: Guardians looks very much like it could be the best Halo experience to date. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to have a go on the Single Player Campaign, but if it’s even half as good as the Multiplayer was, then I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on it come the end of this month. Given I’ve now met the purchase requirements for the Xbox One (upon, as it happens, exiting from that magical curtain – thus making it an excellent curtain in both directions!) the combination of picking up that, and a brand new Halo to go with it is a pretty exciting prospect.
It’s been a long wait, sure, but I think it’s fitting – for me at least – that my return to the Xbox fold will coincide with the newest release of one of the titles that made me sign-up initially. I’m not sure if that’s poetic, or synergy, or something else entirely, but it’s sure going to be a hell of a lot of fun by the looks of it.