Most of the other weapons are pretty standard fare. There’s a shotgun, an SMG, a sniper rifle and a grenade launcher on the menu. There are a couple of more interesting additions though. The Torque Bow is a fearsome beast that fires exploding arrows that attach themselves to walls, cars, sandbags or even enemies. But the coolest weapon at your disposal is the Hammer of Dawn. Unlike most weapons, the Hammer of Dawn doesn’t do damage itself, instead it targets an enemy so that satellites orbiting the earth can send down a massive beam of energy to decimate the target on the surface. Someone at Epic is obviously a fan of the Anime classic Akira, since the Hammer of Dawn is a near exact copy of the Satellite Orbital Laser (SOL) that’s used against Tetsuo during the film’s climax. There are certain locusts that can only be destroyed with the Hammer of Dawn, but you need to have a clear line of sight to the sky for it to function. Luckily you don’t need to worry about using up an inventory slot for the Hammer of Dawn, since whenever you need it, you’ll conveniently find it lying around on the ground.
One nice touch in GoW is the reload function. Rather than just hitting a reload button, you can expediate the process by manually timing your reload. When you hit the reload button you can either wait for your next round to hit the chamber, or you can press the reload button again as the reload marker hits a set point. If you get this right, not only will you get back in the fight faster, but your new rounds will also have a damage bonus. If however you mis-time the active reload your gun will jam and you’ll have to wait even longer for your next magazine to slot into place. The art of the perfect reload is actually an important part of the game – getting the next round into the chamber as quickly as possible could be the difference between life and death! The importance of the active reload is reflected in the fact that you can unlock achievements for pulling off a number of concurrent perfect reloads.
The pacing in the campaign mode is more or less perfect. You encounter new environments and new enemies as you push on through the game and the level of difficulty scales well. The campaign mode is long enough to feel satisfying when you finish it, and there isn’t any pointless padding thrown in to increase longevity. If there’s one criticism of the campaign mode, it’s that it doesn’t really tell enough of the story. There are hints and references thrown in here and there, but important questions never seem to be asked, let alone answered. The ending leaves you in no doubt that a sequel is coming, so hopefully we’ll get a few more answers in the second instalment. That said, if Halo 2 is anything to go by, we could just end up with more questions.
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