Review: Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)

Posted on December 30, 2015

Hello all it’s Simon again, and today I am delighted to talk about Halo 5, the latest instalment in one of my favourite game franchises. I’ll touch especially on issues that relate to families with children.

In my last blog post for Game Truck Australia I mentioned that Halo 2 was a massive game changer in the video game entertainment industry for many reasons: it brought Xbox live (the online gaming platform) to life and delivered to friends and family a brand new medium of multiplayer entertainment. The Halo franchise on a whole has always prided itself on being completely up-to-date with current technology. But more importantly, it has a story to tell: a story that has spanned across multiple entertainment media from table top board games, comic books, and novels to animated and live action series, movies, podcasts, and E-sports. Given all of the ways this universe has been delivered to its fans, it’s safe to say that it is massive!

The subject of age appropriateness can be subjective, and being well-informed is essential. With that in mind, the best thing to do if you’re not sure is go online. YouTube is one of your best friends when considering games: just type in “Halo 5 let’s play” and watch someone else play the game (or even just check out the trailer below). Make a decision based on what you see whether or not it is appropriate for your family.

Ratings details from the Australian Classification Board: click image for more detail

Ratings details from the Australian Classification Board: click image for more detail

Halo 5: Guardians is rated M “for mature audiences”: this is an advisory category, not a restricted one like MA-15+. Even PG games need to be looked at as they can contain content that some parents might think inappropriate for their child. With Halo 5 the classification has been given on the grounds of ‘moderate’ violence (killing aliens, and blowing up spaceships) and online interactivity: it is definitely a shooter game but it much more stylised and science-fiction style than some of the more realistic franchises like Call of Duty.

The gameplay itself is fairly tame; there are guns, spaceships, aliens and a lot of shooting. This is violence; there is no disputing that! I think the difference is the intent of the protagonist, for example; in Grand Theft Auto 5 the main character is a criminal, he steals cars, kills people, commits armed robberies, and the list goes on. The intent of this protagonist is strongly anti-social. On the other hand the Master Chief (the protagonist in Halo 5) is trying to save the galaxy: he is honourable, loyal, and has a fairly strong moral conscience. I think over all he is a better role model than other protagonists in the gaming industry. The language used is also quit tame and mostly fairly moderate.

Now to the meat of the issue, online game play! One 0f the problems here is that this is perhaps the first Halo game that doesn’t support local cooperative play, so online is the only option for multiplayer. As great as online gaming is for adults, the issue lies with the fact that literally anybody can all communicate with one another. Sounds like fun, right? But for children this can be problematic: the way that some players communicate may be offensive and completely inappropriate for children. There are ways around this: it is important that you know how to use you child’s console if you want the let them play with their friends online. This will allow you to apply parental controls to the experience. Unfortunately a tutorial for parental controls is out of the scope of this blog post, but click here if you are interested: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/xbox-one-parental-controls,news-17893.html .

You don’t have to completely restrict online gameplay either; you can just stop the console connecting with strangers. Many families bond by sharing gaming and it’s something that kids usually love introducing their parents to. Gaming is meant to be fun! And the best way to make it fun is by creating a safe environment for everyone, and this mean understanding that environment a little better.

On a whole Halo 5 is a fairly tame game and it is the opinion of this blogger that the classification ‘M’ is totally appropriate. Letting your tween/teen play this game should be totally fine if you are OK with the concept of shooter games and can manage the online interactivity issues.

I hope this has been a helpful read; please comment below if you have any questions and hopefully I’ll see you in the Truck! :)

 

Simon Mawson, resident GameTrucker


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