Halo 4 Review
It’s finally here. The game that finished first in our most anticipated games for the rest of 2012 has finally made its way into my Xbox 360. After waiting the 10 minutes to install the second disc, I entered the world of Halo 4 as created by 343 Industries, re-united with the Master Chief and Cortana, then began my adventure. Spoiler: I really liked this adventure.
What I Liked
The Prometheans and Their Weapons
After years of fighting the Covenant and the Flood, Halo 4 gives us the Prometheans. These mechanized enemy AI will attack you en masse and they don’t back down like the Grunts do. They offer quite a challenge with their aggressiveness, can respawn if you aren’t quick, and killing every single one from the first to last was an absolute thrill.
Because of these new enemies, you’ll also be given new weapons to play around with. From the boltshot, to the scattergun, and even the incineration cannon, all the new Promethean weapons introduced in Halo 4 give you tonnes of options when you want to kill your enemies. Add to the fact that there are many more non-Promethean weapons (SAW = awesome) and this is the most brutal Halo game yet.
Every single one of the eight missions in the game are all designed very well and paced even better. Over the course of the campaign, you’ll go from controlled firefights in confined areas, to sprawling canyons where you can jump into your vehicle of choice, to hoard-style areas where you jump into the powerful Mantis and try to survive as long as possible.
Not only is it paced well, it has many memorable moments. One of these is in a later mission where you fly a ship through a scene that brings back memories of the original Star Wars. It all leads up to a satisfying conclusion at the end of the game, but still makes me want Halo 5 as soon as possible.
Until then though, I’ll be replaying the campaign on higher difficulties with friends to get all those achievements.
It Looks and Sounds Amazing
It isn’t really fair to commend a game on its CG cutscenes, because essentially the biggest budget always wins, but every time I saw one, I was blown away. Honestly, when the game first opened, I thought they had done a live action intro; it looked that good. This then carries on into every other cutscene, where the Chief is highly detailed and looks almost real.
As for the in game graphics, they are stunning. Every single enemy has lots of visual flair, the Prometheans die in a very awesome way, and the draw distance and vistas you’ll see on the horizon are absolutely breathtaking.
Not only that, the sound design is perfect and raises the bar even further for a Halo game. Whether it’s the music that plays in the background at certain key moments that really get you into the mood, or the spot-on weapon sounds, this game deserves to be played through a surround sound set.
As much fun as the single player is, the multiplayer will be getting the most of people’s times (including mine). Playlists like Regicide and Flood helps spice up free for all and Living Dead, whereas Dominion helps to replace Invasion by offering a defense-minded game that has you building turrets and trying to hold positions.
The real bread and butter of Halo 4 though are the maps. The updated version of Valhalla, Ragnarok, is immensely more fun to play with the inclusion of the Mantis and overall streamlined feel. New maps such as Adrift, Complex, and Haven all offer intense matches, complete with numerous ways to get around the map and kill your enemies.
In terms of updates to the multiplayer formula, 343 did almost everything right. The only downside to the new progression system would have to be the fact that the first hour or two, you’ll be completely outmatched by people who start off with better weapons and better armour abilities. After that though, it’s an even playing field and you’ll be a Spartan killing machine in no time.
Other features such as the Kill Cam (finally!), ordnance drops after getting a set amount of kills, getting points for literally everything you do, and the fact that everyone can see when a weapon respawns make Halo 4 something I’ll be playing for hundreds of hours.
Spartan Ops and the Promise of Future Content
One big selling feature for Halo 4 is Spartan Ops, free weekly episodic missions. After spending some time with the first episode, I can say that it pretty much played out like Firefight. You enter into an area, have to kill a set amount of enemies, and if you die, you don’t restart at a checkpoint, you pick up where you left off. Even without Spartan Ops, the game feels like a complete package, but with it, you get fresh content every single week.
Not only will you be getting the Spartan Ops episodes, 343 has committed to updating the multiplayer every week. SWAT will be joining the playlists next week, with others following not too far down the road. And after lots of people get through making their own maps in Forge, don’t be surprised if some free fanmade maps join the future DLC maps.
What I Didn’t Like
If I’m looking for stuff I didn’t like about Halo 4, there isn’t much. The campaign could have had another 20 minutes or so of variety and it is a bit on the short side at 5 hours (solo, normal difficulty). But the short playtime also works to its advantage as I was ready to go back and play through it again on Legendary, not being dragged down by the fact that it was a trudge through ten hours, with some boring parts mixed in.
Better Than: Any Game I’ve Played This Year
Whether it’s the action-packed campaign that I’ll be replaying to get the solo Legendary achievement or the multiplayer that will dominate my online playtime for the months to come, Halo 4 is the best game I’ve played this year. Barring any upsets, look for Master Chief’s latest adventure to take home our Game of the Year award.
If you read the entire review up to this point, you know you should be buying it. Halo 4 features everything I could have wanted from the game and more. For your $60 investment, you will get a game that you won’t be able to put down for a very long time.