Halo 4

Halo4boxart
9.5 Overall Score

New enemies, new challenges, new mysteries!

Plot is hard to follow for newcomers.

Written by on December 11, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

Halo 4 screenshot 1

What happens when a tool becomes seemingly obsolete? That is a central question for 343 Industries’ Halo 4. Gamers last saw Master Chief floating through unknown space with his companion Cortana by his side. The Earth was saved from the armies of the Covenant and the destructive force of the Flood. However for Earth and its protectors, Master Chief is believed to be dead. Halo 4 marks the return of the warrior. He lives, but a new ancient evil arises to threaten the universe and allies that once called him a hero are now skeptical of his value.

Halo 4 adheres very much to the history laid out in the previous video games, books and comics. This new installment bears the responsibility in setting up the framework for a new trilogy from franchise caretakers 343 Industries. In many ways, long-time Halo fans will be rewarded to see some old themes played up to a large degree, foremost the relationship between Master Chief and his AI companion, Cortana. Despite a franchise of several games, Halo 4 feels refreshing and new, but players unfamiliar with the other adventures of Master Chief will feel lost on what exactly might be going on and will have to just enjoy the fast-paced thrill-ride of each chapter in the game.

Halo 4 screen 2

Master Chief’s new enemy offers a degree of mystery missing from the last few Halo games and it’s a welcome return to the franchise. These new enemies, the Prometheans, give the Halo fan a richer understanding of the Halo universe, and give the gamer a new challenge because in a lot of ways the Prometheans are a lot harder to kill. These Prometheans have powerful weapons at their disposal and react intelligently by avoiding fire and using shields effectively. Even when familiar antagonists (the Covenant) come into play, it’s always the Prometheans that steal the show. Their leader, the Didact, seems to be one step ahead of Master Chief and the human forces which builds the tension in this first of a promised new Halo trilogy.

343 Industries’ love for the Bungie-created franchise clearly shows while advancing where the title will go in the future. Let’s be honest here: Bungie was never adept at creating dynamic figures in their story. 343 Industries present some stunning cut scenes that look as if they were filmed. The voice actors are adroit, but can sometimes be more than a little over-the-top. The game’s soundtrack shows pronounced nuance. Gone are the over-powering screeching guitars and this time world music instruments add to the story’s mystery and other-worldliness. It is the best soundtrack thus far in a Halo game. The visuals, acting, and music help make the sometimes bizarre plotline feel more mysterious, the universe larger and the threats deadlier.

For most gamers, the reason to pick up Halo 4 will remain the multiplayer. The multiplayer experience is largely the same since Halo: Reach. Players will be able to play in familiar game types like Capture the Flag or Team Deathmatch. Also returning is Forge, where gamers can create their own maps and gametypes and invite or share their creations with other gamers. These two elements of multiplayer are relatively the same as other recent games, and while some refinements have been added to gameplay, 343 Industries doesn’t really try to break the mold of that classic and familiar competitive gameplay.

A new addition to Halo multiplayer is Spec Ops which gamers can play by themselves, but is made for a co-operative experience with random players or with friends. Spec Ops features challenge-based gameplay. Spec Ops is an ambitious co-op experience that is promised to have semi-weekly new challenges and objectives to complete for free. So far, however, the challenges are lackluster and become more chore than thrilling. With this feature promising to be a year long addition, there is a chance that it may improve down the road.

Halo 4 screenshot 3

There are some refinements to a player’s overall experience with Halo 4 that began in Reach. The biggest is that players will have limited loadouts for equipment and perks. As players win (or play) matches, they get awarded XP that can be used to level up their character and unlock more loadouts, weapons, abilities and perks. Players will also be awarded points that they can spend to be able to use those unlocked items. Unlocked items also include the ability to customize characters, including what armor players run around in.

Halo 4 is an exciting first step in what appears to be a bold new trilogy for the Halo franchise. While the plot may be hard to follow for some, the fresh look from 343 Industries gives the storied franchise a feel of newness, an injection of mystery and a threat that compels the player to be there every step of the way. For a character like Master Chief, who may feel that humanity has no use for him anymore, Halo 4 shows that some tools are always vital. Likewise, Halo 4 is a video game players must have!

A copy of Halo 4 was provided to The Married Gamers for review.

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Author: Chris Brown View all posts by

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