Halo, is one of those most famous franchises of the Xbox, that everyone recognizes as one of the flagships of the platform. The last title, Halo Reach, was the final installment that Bungie gave us, and honestly, i thought it was the last we’d ever see out of the universe, a closed Book. Eventually, 343 Industries took the reigns, and started production on Halo 4, the continuation of the Master-chief’s journey following the events of Halo 3, so how did they fared with this?
Halo 4 is one of those games which, if you are a die-hard fan who’s been with the franchise since the first game, you’ll have to look at with a bit of distance and with fewer requirements. One of the things that may bug many gamers and fans, is that pretty much every single vehicle, weapon, and design has been redone. The warthog, is now slightly more squarish, and they changed it’s engine sound, which was one of the most iconic halo sounds of it’s universe to a more americanized version type of motorcycle/ V8 sound. This and most human designs have been pointlessly redone to this more retro, squarish 343′s new style.
They even went as far as too change “Forward unto Dawn”‘s frigate design too the new frigate in Halo 4! This was the ship that accompanied the player trough Halo 2 and Halo 3 and where in the ending of the latest, where the Master chief makes his escape and becomes stranded on . I found this change to be one of the most insulting to the older fans of the series, and pretty pointless. If they were going to use a single model of a UNSC frigate in the whole campaign, they could’ve at least spared us the redesign on one of the major elements that connected the game to it’s predecessor, which ended up ruining a bit of the sense of continuity. It’s a very similar universe, but not the players got used to love.
Now, the games explains this change of elements, by indication that it has been 4 years since Cortana and Master Chief were lost in space after the events of Halo 3 (I don’t know why the ship, weapons, vehicles and armor morphed trough this time, but let’s close our eyes to that for now)
Our characters and their ship seems to have arrived to orbit of a Forerunner shield world, and just before this planet drags them to orbit and inside it, we are attacked by the covenant an again, are presented with a very cheap and quick explanation for the former Human-covenant alliance the player conquered in the last game to have been broken where Cortana simply says after an elite tries to kill you “Well, a lot can happen in four years”
We will never ever touch this subject again in the story, and it was again a HUGE opportunity thrown out the window.
Eventually, UNSC forces find our characters and a lot events unfold surrounding the forerunners and their past. We are introduced to a fairly above average villain, that was unfortunately a bit simple in his quest , and despite a rather poor final mission climax, i found the ending satisfactory enough. I just think that some players will not be particularly fond of the new form of enemies we will be fighting for the next 2 games, the forerunners.
The enemies in this game will eventually get a bit repetitive, even with the amazing Ai we’ve got to know Halo for, most players will get the feeling that they are fighting the same fight again and again, only on different scenarios…
Graphically, the game has improved slightly. The new chief’s armor, although i didn’t like the sudden unexplained change, is one of the best looking we’ve seen so far. Models seem clean and detailed enough, and the scenarios are stunningly beautiful. I think that this is one of the highlights of the game, because you can count on being surprised by the creativity and beauty of the different areas each time you open a new door or turn around a corner. The game, however, lacks on it’s scenario destruction and animations. I was very sad that they, once again, removed the fragments of the phantom, the covenant drop ship when you blow one up (Which you end up doing many times) making this big ships explode into nothing, with just a few chunks of metal falling. YOu can even see the model disappear out of nowhere, as the whole explosion doesn’t involve most of the model. And this sadly goes out to many other vehicles too like the banshee.
Another thing that fell short, was the large scale of the infinty that was heavilly advertised, which is also a ship which will make very short appearances in the main campaign.
Another thing also shined in this game which was the differently themed, but powerful soundtrack. These tracks were very memorable and there were times i would just sit there looking at the set, pumping my speakers up and just listening to one of the many different, but very well crafted tracks. I still do, and even ended up getting the whole soundtrack in my computer.
After beating the campaign, i was actually surprised. Not only do we have a whole single player campaign, but we also have a fully co-op story campaign that happens directly after the events of the main campaign complete with it’s own cut scenes and characters, called Spartan Ops . Which is pretty fun to play, if you do play it with people who do it as a team. It is a very cool addition, which adds to the multiplier aspect of things. I even ended up trying to get a friend to buy this game so we could play together. And most important of all, this entirely free. Nope, not another day one DLC.
Moving on to the multiplayer, my first match was a bit unpleasant, since they’ve changed the classic formula to a new one. The games feel a bit more choppy and we no longer have spawn times. A player can spawn as quickly as they want by pressing a button after dying and the matches feels a bit more chaotic and deorganized than before.
There is also the addition of customized load outs, which you can select in the profile menu before battle. You have up to 5 load outs, and you can change your primary, secondary weapon, grenades and armor abilities but you’ll have to unlock all these first by purchasing them with stars.
We also have a new mode “Flood” which is basically the old infection mode where one player starts out alone as an infected, and when that player kills another one, that player joins the flood side. This was fun since they actually modeled a flood model for these players, but the repetitive sounds from them can really, really get annoying.
So my final opinion is:
Halo 4 is a different approach to the halo universe. Old fans might find it hard to approach it, but with a bit of patience and if you end up closing your eyes to some aspects, you will end up enjoying it. It is not the best halo so far for new comers, and it’s missing some of the well crafted large scale set pieces from it’s predecessors, but it ends up being a fun game to play on the long run. It has a pretty plain story, but enjoyable at least for newcomers. The multiplayer suffered a bit, but is still fun to play, and you’ll find yourself coming back for another match.
So, if you are a fan of the series, although you might be bugged with some aspects, sure, but you’ll still be entertained in the end and curious about the continuation. If you are a newcomer, do not take it the wrong way. This game has it’s flaws, but it’s surely one of the best xbox games around at this time, so if you can afford it, do give it a try.
As always, it was a pleasure.
My best regards, Frank Rod!
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