This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 29 January 2016.

Halo 5: Guardians is the latest addition to the (first-person shooter) Halo franchise and the first developed entirely for the latest Microsoft console, the Xbox One. Microsoft has never been shy to invest in the franchise since the very first game arrived by way of development studio Bungie. Halo 5 sees 343 Industries control development of their second game since their Halo 4 debut, and while the story may not appeal to everyone, they certainly appear willing to now take control of things and do it their own way.

The first thing that will strike you with Halo 5: Guardians is how beautiful it looks, and how smoothly it runs. The game makes full use of the Xbox One’s potential and sets a new standard for console shooters. The sound and voice acting is also of a very high standard, and the chatter between the members of the two (playable) fire teams in the game adds a new depth to the storytelling and indicates a potential shift in the series (and story arc) going forward.

For many fans of the series, the addition of the second fire team – ‘Osiris’ led by Spartan Locke – may prove to be a bit much. It’s not that the addition itself takes away from the game, but the fact that the majority of the game is actually spent controlling them (and Locke) as they ‘hunt’ the Master Chief, rather than controlling the iconic hero of humanity himself.

However, the addition of Team Osiris is still handled carefully by 343 Industries, with the musical score and even the graphical presentation in-game being specifically different to that of the Master Chief’s Blue Team. The missions are also varied and with the events playing out from two different perspectives (and with each team having two very distinct objectives), the story is a well-crafted action movie brought to life on your gaming platform.

On top of the well-constructed (but a little poorly concluded) story campaign that can be enjoyed on your own, the game adds a co-op option for fire teams online, as well as the much anticipated continuation of the series’ multiplayer.

The multiplayer component offers two variations for players to enjoy. There’s the usual multiplayer fare such as Capture the Flag, Slayer, and others on offer, along with the new addition called Warzone. This new mode is a 24-player battlefield that pits two player controlled teams against each other, along with a number of AI-controlled enemies (and allies). The mode is objective based and is a refreshing – and at times anarchic – experience from the more traditional modes in most multiplayer games.

However, purists will be happy to know that those more traditional modes are brilliantly realised and sees possibly the best multiplayer experience in the franchise since the iconic Halo 2 days. The graphics in the multiplayer are on par with the campaign and feels silky smooth – barring the usual issues of lag that South African online gaming is generally prone to.

Halo 5: Guardians is still very much a Halo game, but it is Halo refined. It is beautifully crafted and presented, but I can’t help but feel that the story seems like it is restarting the second trilogy in the series. 343 Industries have something in store for Master Chief and his supporting cast, but it seems most likely that the exact plans will only be revealed in Halo 6. For now, grab Halo 5, enjoy the ride of this space soap opera and embrace the evolution of the series and the universe that has proven such a success for Microsoft over the years. If you are a fan of first-person shooters, you certainly won’t regret it.

Score: 9/10
Available for: Xbox One
Distributed by: Prima Interactive and available at all retailers of games