Reach keeps Halo nice and shiny

As the holiday season approaches and gaming’s tent-pole titles start to enter the marketplace, there may be no better move than to add Halo: Reach to your library.

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Halo: Reach

Platform: Xbox 360

Genre: Shooter

Publisher: Microsoft

ESRB Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 5 stars (out of 5)

As the holiday season approaches and gaming’s tent-pole titles start to enter the marketplace, there may be no better move than to add Halo: Reach to your library.

This franchise has been a beacon for Xbox 360 owners, and they may not find another game this year that tops this prequel.

An exciting campaign, a thoroughly easy-to-enjoy set of multiplayer modes and the abyss of creativity that is Forge make this the most complete Halo game ever. The campaign is weak on story at times, but gives you wide-open maps and the freedom to explore different vantage points when attacking or defending positions.

Playing the campaign with others cooperatively is obviously a better way to go, but even alone your other five squadmates are up to the challenge.

And once you get past the slower intro chapters and get into the meat of the story, the action is fast, hectic and fun.

The possibilities are vast, since the conditions of a given match can be altered to allow for easier accessibility to all skill levels.

A new mode called Invasion is a nice addition, but most “Halo” fans will instantly recognize the majority of the online content.

New weapons, new campaign, new menu system, new multiplayer. It’s not just the newness of Halo: Reach that makes it so outstanding.

It’s that every piece of what went into this package is fine-tuned and rarely showing a flaw or error. This is one of the top games of 2010, and any 360 owner who passes it up is making a big mistake.

Sports Champions

Platform: PlayStation 3

Genre: Sports

Publisher: Sony

ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone

Grade: 3.5 stars

As a fan of the Wii and its bubbly Mario titles, my wife was a quick study with the PlayStation Move and its new foray in motion-controlled gaming.

The launch title we spent the most time with was Sports Champions, by far the strongest and most diverse of the games that take advantage of the Move’s controllers and gameplay.

A nice bonus to Sports Champions is that the games are not all variations on a theme. You get a different gaming experience with each event. You can play a traditional pingpong match, then switch over for some beach volleyball. Bocce is a fantastic game that will suck in bowling fans and is one of the better showcase sports for the Move controllers.

Rounding out the package is the odd inclusion of gladiator duel. It certainly doesn’t come off as a “sport” because really you are just beating the tar out of someone with a sword and shield.

These games are fun, but the Wii has been out for darn near four years now and none of the Move’s launch titles are anything we haven’t already seen. Still, “Sports Champions” is a solid entry for the Move into motion-controlled gaming.

Follow Chris Campbell at twitter.com/campbler or e-mail him at game—on—games@mac.com.