Format: Xbox 360
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
ESRB Rating: M
Halo 4 is the first game in the new trilogy by 343 Industries, and possibly the last Halo game for the Xbox 360. Does the new development team bring the game to new heights, or does it drive the storied franchise into the ground?
Story and Presentation:
Halo 4 takes place right after Halo 3, after they made the final attack on the Covenant to end their attempts at wiping out the entire human race. Chief has been in a cryo-sleep for the past four years when Cortana finally wakes him from his sleep, only to awaken to a new threat to the human race. You've probably seen the new foe in the many trailers for this game, and the Prometheans have a new lead villain that adds a new persona other than the Covenant. A Halo story has never really engaged me, even Halo Reach wasn't that interesting too me, but 4 really engrosses you from the beginning. It has a lot of emotion, Cortana and Master Chief have a lot of chemistry in the game, and their tale unravels into a moving narrative. Halo has always looked good, but it never really pushed the bounds in terms of visuals. Halo 4 delivers on all fronts, starting with vast amount of environments to explore. There are a ton of panoramic horizons to gaze at, and a variety locales will have you constantly stopping your movement to marvel at your binding surroundings. This could be the best looking game on the 360, next to Gears of War 3. Halo Reach wasn't a bad looking game, it just didn't revolutionize the game's visuals like 4. The lighting has received a much needed upgrade, making the lush jungles and dry deserts really pop out of your screen. The new Prometheans sport a cool new art style, their glowing orange bodies are nice change of pace from the Elites and Grunts. The overall art design is one of the best I've seen in a futuristic game, nearly every environment is noteworthy. The voice acting in the game is well-acted and believable. It took me a little while to get used to Master Chief's voice, I had something completely different in mind when I thought what he would sound like. As the story progressed though, he turned out to be one of my favorite characters to listen too. You can always expect wonderful music out of any Halo game, and you get exactly that in fourth numbered game. This is only Halo soundtrack where I found myself needing to purchase the soundtrack, every track sets the mood perfectly, from the emotional scenes to the action heavy set pieces. The presentation is everything you thought it would be, one of the best audio/visual packages this year.
Core Gameplay and Multiplayer:
The gameplay hasn't really received any dramatic changes from previous games, the controls are still tight and fluid. The gunplay is what made this franchise so famous, and for good reason, its the best part of the game. Either if you're moving from section to section in the campaign, or you're online playing Slayer, the bevy of guns at your disposal are a blast to use. Storm Rifles, Promethean Suppressors, Energy Swords, and the new Scattershot are just a few of the weapons at your disposal. Each one of the guns will any player type perfectly, and the new guns offer up new gameplay options for you to take advantage of. The 8-10 hour campaign is your standard fare of Halo gameplay, you start from point A, and you're trying to get to point B while battling waves of enemies. It gets a little repetitive at times, the campaign offers up little to no variety in the way you complete a mission. The best way to play is with a group of friends, just like its always been. Playing the game cooperatively is where I have the most fun, while other players might want to tackle the game on their own. The new Spartan Ops mode gives you and three friends your own story, its presented as episodic content. Before each combat scenario, you're greeted with brief cinematic depicting the lives of the Spartan soldiers. The mode sounds like a cool idea, but it just never lives up to its ambition. It just ends up being these minute long skirmishes with a random group of enemies, and just feels like it wasn't thought out well. Its cool that they will be releasing more content as the months roll by, and it'll be cool how their respective storylines play out. The bread and butter of the Halo games has been its robust online component. Your standard modes, matchmaking options, playlists, and social abilities make a return, and its still some of the best online gameplay found in any FPS game. The Flood takes the role of zombies in the new Flood mode, its cool but its pretty much the same as the old Infection mode. Halo 4 finally introduces loadouts, where you'll choose between Primary and Secondary weapons, grenades, and different armor abilities. As you progress, you'll unlock more weapons and abilities. All the same vehicles make a return, but the new Mantis brings up more opportunities to destroy your opposers. Any fan of these games will feel right at home with 4.
Final Thoughts:Halo 4 is a great game, and although the gameplay really hasn't changed all that much, it shouldn't be missed. The game has received a much need graphical overhaul, and it sports some of the best looking visuals on the 360, and with a astonishing soundtrack to boot, this is any hardcore fans dream game.
S&S Rating: 8.75/10