One of E3 2010’s more pleasant surprises had to be Bungie’s vow that Halo: Reach would feature a reformed version of Firefight, a co-op mode that many felt did not live up to the hype in its Halo 3: ODST debut.  Even though Bungie extensively detailed the parameters of Firefight at E3, its promises of matchmaking, customizable “Skulls” to vary difficulty, and an ever-changing gameplay experience were merely spoken words.

Until now.

Check out the newly released (and quite long) Firefight gameplay video!  It’s like seven minutes in heaven, only instead of being with that girl you daydreamed about in high school, you’re with a well-oiled battle rifle and an ugly contingent of Covenant grunts.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVTHwwCjKLk&feature=player_embedded

First, the game looks outstanding, and the gameplay is very sleek.  You can hear the armored Covenant transports and drop ships before you see them.  The transition from one weapon to the next is seamless.  The shouts of “Killing Spree!” and “Betrayal!” still ring fresh in the ears.  Oh, and the Warthog manages not to flip over and dump you at the slightest change in elevation.

Also, if you pay close attention at the beginning of the video, you can see one of the aforementioned “Skulls” on display.  This one is the “Tough Luck” Skull, meaning the enemies will more readily dodge your grenades.  This Skull’s effect on gameplay is evident beginning around the two minute mark, where a handful of Covenant drop down and manage to avoid the grenades even at close range, leaving you to resort to your battle rifle to finish them off.

Finally, it is clear from the video that Bungie delivered on its promise to enable matchmaking with Firefight.  In the video, we can see four different players in the action, with the battle raging all over the Beachhead map.  Presumably, these four gamers are not squeezed onto the same couch but rather sitting comfortably in their own independent man caves with 50 inch TVs, modded speakers, and $150 headsets.

With Halo: Reach seeing a record number of beta testers and loads of coverage at E3 this year, the hype for this game keeps building and building.  Seeing how it is Bungie’s last hurrah with the franchise, it is hard to see the studio not producing a genuinely great game that will have us standing in line for our pre-order, staying up until 4:00 am on a work night, and shunning our significant others in the name of alien destruction.

Halo: Reach is set to release exclusively for the Xbox 360 on September 14, 2010.

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