Halo 4 Review
The Halo franchise is undoubtedly one of the biggest gaming franchises in history. Without it, every game classified as a first person shooter would not have been the same. Released in 2001, Halo: Combat Evolved changed first person shooters on consoles, just like Goldeneye the generation before, and it was not slowing down. Now in 2012, Halo has finally returned to its full former glory. How does the first entry in the upcoming Halo Reclaimer Trilogy stand up, especially now that a new studio is heading the franchise? Better than ever.
First, the game feels amazing to play, better than any other Halo. Unlike the previous FPS entries in the series, Halo 4 makes you actually feel that you are a super solider worthy of legend, both while playing as John, the Master Chief in the Campaign mode, or as your very own Spartan IV in the multiplier. This is helped by the brilliant new sound design in the weapons, making fake weapons sound incredibly real, even the Covenant and Forerunner ones. The graphics are also top notch, and I have yet to think of any better looking games on the Xbox 360.
The Single Player campaign also earns a mention as the best Halo campaign since Halo 2. The gameplay is top notch, and the few scenes in the beginning that use quicktime events and on rail cutscenes are quickly replaced by solid gameplay. Some of the animations are overused, especially the button push animation, and while initially immersible, becomes overly repetitive. The story was fantastic, but in the end was not the epic story it was hyped up to be. Some parts of the story get weird, and some parts of the story are not touched up upon at all, unless you go to the extended universe, such as the books. Why was Requiem important? Why are you fighting the Covenant again? None of these major plot points are even mentioned in the game, and take away from the still great story. It felt like this was much more of a game for the cult following than those who have been following the games for years.
The Infinity section of the game is the multiplayer suite. This includes War Games, which is the new unified term for matchmaking and custom games, as well as Spartan Ops as well as Forge and Theater modes. The local and online multiplayer is phenomenal, and better than any of its predecessors The matchmaking works fast, and you are placed into a game in under a minute. The multiplayer action feels fantastic, just like the campaign, and the all new custom loadouts and armor abilities are much more balanced than I anticipated. Spartan Ops is a great replacement for Firefight, which was fantastic in ODST, but failed in Reach. It gives you 5 story based co-operative missions each week, for the first ten weeks after the launch. This totals to about fifty missions by February of 2013, and adds much value to the game. Theatre mode remains unchanged, and acts just as it did in the last three entries that contained it.
The downside to the Infinity suite, sadly lies in Forge. This mode is a big downgrade from Halo: Reach, due to unnecessary interruptions, and very small maps compared to the magnificent Forge World of Halo Reach. Multiplayer forge has also gotten a massive downgrade when playing with friends, as every time you switch from editor mode to player mode when structures have spawned, it causes everyone’s games to temporarily pause and render, local, or online. While Halo 3′s forge was not designed for map creation, it still had two forge maps as DLC, both of them being different from each other. Halo: Reach has one large map, Forge World, and although the DLC map Tempest did have functionality, it was barley used. Halo 4 has three different forge maps. This means that if you download a forge map variant, you dont just click “Forge World” to go to your forge maps, you have to remember if the variant you downloaded was one of Impact, Ravine, or Erosion. If that does not sound confusing enough, the entire space for Ravine, the map most comparative to Forge World in design, is about 1/20th of Forge World’s size. The only good side is that there are a few tools that improve creation, such as object duplication, magnets, and player trait volumes that modify traits in a specific area.
Is Halo 4 a perfect game? No. However, it does have the best campaign, online and local multiplayer suites, as well as more overall content than any other game for Xbox 360. If the creator community does migrate over to Halo 4, you have an incredible amount of content that will last you years.