I'll start by sharing an exchange between two combatants, before a match of Team Slayer in Halo:Reach today:
"You're such a loser mate, shut up!"
(Match begins in 5, 4, 3, 2.....)
While not always as intellectually charged as the dialogue above; every two or three matches you'll hear two jackasses locked in purile, verbal combat before the shooting actually begins. As if these exchanges didn't already elevate Halo to the upper eschalons of cultural practice, wait until you see what happens when you get a Killing Spree in a Swat match. I've never been teabagged so vigorously. With the taste of flesh still on my tongue, I carried on. Embarrassed slightly, but still eager to thrash out a win.
Despite these prepubescent displays of aggression, competitive multiplayer is still Reach's strongest attribute (at least based on my experience at this point). Nothing matches the satisfaction of a headshot on a sprinting enemy (and with the Recon loadout, you CAN sprint). Sure, racking up a Killimanjaro or Killtrocity medal in Firefight feels like an achievement; but your AI opponents only really present a challenge in their superior numbers.
I've played through the first four levels of the campaign, and while the action is top notch, the dialogue and drama is about as fresh as a double smoked ham. Honestly, the Noble Squad are for the moment, the greatest bunch of knobs to grace gaming since Sonic the Hedgehog and his ragtag crew of misfits in Sonic Adventure. I just cannot relate to these tough nuts at all. I also loved the action movie/game cliche during Noble 6's introduction to the squad at the outset of the adventure. It went something along the lines of:
"I've read your profile 6. I'm glad to have someone with your skill set, but I want none of the lone wolf stuff. We work as a team!"
Just for once I'd like my squad commander to say:
"I've read your profile faceless protagonist. I must admit, I didn't think there was a place for a paper-pushing administrator on the battlefield; but I'm just glad to have someone as wonderful, and as caring as you by my side in this, the darkest of all hours. Hold me, you vague, mysterious man!"
Despite my nitpicking, anyone with an Xbox 360 has no excuse to pass up this title. As a value proposition more than anything else, Halo: Reach cannot be beaten. Good enough graphics (noticable slowdown, with the occasional temporary freeze), solid action and a comprehensive suite of single player, competitive and cooperative modes; Bungie's Halo swan song offers endless hours of space opera action.
What are you guys playing this weekend?