It’s never easy to see something you love and grown accustomed to change hands. Among developers there’s always that uneasy feeling. It’s hard to describe but I often feel it myself at work sometimes. Spending months on some code to hand over to another team that you hope will continue on with the same quality as when you transitioned the project over. However ever since Bungie announced that it was branching off from Microsoft in late 2007, most wondered what would happen to our beloved “Halo”. It was confusing to say the least to find out that 343 Industries, a subsidiary of Microsoft, had taken over the project that has become synonymous with the Xbox 360 and would contribute to the series with another installment to the main franchise.
But you guys didn’t come here for a history lesson, now did you? Let’s get on with the review…
- Everything from the cut scenes to the weapons received a refreshing facelift.
- New loadouts and competitive / cooperative game modes.
- Weekly challenges make a return.
Since I can’t go into specifics because it would totally ruin the story for you, and I would hate to do that to you, I just wanted to make note of couple of things I noticed while playing.
While the campaign story does start off a little slow, it definitely picks up midway through. Sure it has it’s flaws but it has a level of variety that exposes you to a little of everything that the “Halo” universe had to offer. Additionally, for once I can honestly say I didn’t see anything coming. During the campaign you’ll constantly find yourself coming up with new theories to only see something else happen instead. If you couple that with the excellent voice acting and revamped weapons and graphics, the “Halo 4” campaign slightly surpasses its predecessors.
But, with that said, you might not want to play this on split screen co-op. I found it extremely hard to find enemies and objectives on the screen, especially in the brighter stages. Additionally, sometimes the game audio made it hard to listen to most of the dialogue during the first half of the game. I do not have a 5.1 stereo sound system set up so I’m not sure if that would make any difference. I had to turn on the subtitles in order to understand what was being said. Granted it might have been because the audio was supposed to sound like that, trust me you’ll understand why I say that once you play, but there are times when critical things were being said and I had no clue what I was supposed to do!
Let’s face it, “Firefight” is gone. It was a mode that while innovative was quickly imitated and eventually became a little too tedious to play. While some people might be like me and don’t bother with competitive multiplayer, it’s nice to see that “Spartan Ops” has come to our rescue. These short episodic missions are just what can keep us non-competitive types happy. Every episode features objective mission chapters that you can play alone or cooperatively with friends or others over Xbox Live. I’m not really sure when episodes will be released but there is one currently available which expands a little on the overall campaign plot. Additionally, it remains to be seen if these will be free DLC but it’s certain that if you’re unwilling to delve into the competitive multiplayer that is “War Games” then “Spartan Ops” might be right up your alley.
Competitive multiplayer got a considerable facelift. I think what I can compare it to is a mix between “Gears of War” and “Call of Duty”. If you play either game then you might know why I’m making this comparison. Some game modes now offer ordinances when you obtain a certain number of kills while most games modes now have weapon indicators and a “kill cam” so you can learn how they killed you. There is a new mode that I thought would be a great intro for newbies called “Regicide” where the leader has a bounty on his head and everyone is supposed to focus and kill the “king” but no one was doing that. Just like in previous “Halo” titles, people were just treating this mode like “Slayer” and thus the “king” won every match.
While I personally don’t really care for this mode, it’s definitely nice to see that it’s a little more inviting than it was in the past. Being able to know where weapons are as well as playing to unlock some better and more useful loadouts are an interesting boast. The only thing I worry about is the matchmaking. Sure, it’s the first week of the game’s release but there are always people that boost their way to a ridiculous level to get all the key power-ups and ruin the game’s experience for anyone who’s just starting out because for some reason you can never find a game with people of equivalent skill. But if you’re used to playing this mode, then I think you might like the new additions and if you ever played either title I mentioned, then you might be right at home with the new “War Games”.
Overall, “Halo 4” definitely feels like an upgraded experience. You notice it in every detail. From the new weapons to the armor abilities, 343 Industries did a remarkable job taking the realm of “Halo” and evolving it for a new generation.
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Looking for a number score? Sorry but you are not going to find one here!
Feel free to look around Metacritic if scores are what you’re really after.