No doubt that by now you know that Halo 4 isn’t created by Bungie but rather by 343 Industries. And that this game is the start of a new trilogy with Master Chief in the lead. Let’s start right away by saying this game is top and shouldn’t be left out of your collection.
The story continues where Halo 3 ended. Master Chief and virtual chick-of-duty Cortana awaken from years of sleep and are confronted with the Covenant, but also the new and very interesting Prometheans on which we won’t be spilling too many beans. Gamers are awakened also by the not only very beautiful and grand visuals – the best you can find on console – but also a new and more exciting approach. It’s still Halo but there’s small changes like QTE’s, a better feeling of physical presence, more attention to details, beautiful enemy design, weapons and architecture, and a pressing atmosphere thanks to the grimm but very solid soundtrack.
Thanks to all this the world of Halo and the lead characters are portrayed a lot better and you immediately get immersed in what’s going on. Also the cut-scenes are of very high quality and the only thing that bothered me on the presentation are the remarks of Cortana which too often weren’t really in line with what was going on. Luckily tis is made up by the interaction and the storyline that succesfully builds the relationship between her and Master Chief. That way we get an adult story that not only offers spectacle but also has emotional depth. Hopefully the makers will bring forth that choice in an even more daring way in the next games.
The gameplay is quite similar to what we’re used from the series but thanks to some small improvements the trusted combination of vehicles, levels, shooting and AI feels refreshing. The AI disappointed a bit in the easier difficulties but once you go for the more ambitious options, the challenge is completely back. Especially the Prometheans with their varied and surprising units make you review your old tactics which makes you play differently with your weapons and tactical choices. The Halo Co-op is as always an incredible experience and is great for replayability.
Next to the campaign, the makers have added quite a lot of goods. Most notable addition is the Spartan Ops mode which are extra missions that you need to play in co-op and which come with fun movies that enrich the setting and deepen the story further between games. Very promising and we hope that plenty will be released for a small price. It will certainly make you put your Halo 4 disc in your Xbox a lot more often.
Not that that was needed as a legion of veterans is already busy with the more standard multiplayer options. There are again plenty modes available with a lot of new tweaks and options, but going too deep in those would probably lead us too far. In any case you’ll never have a shortage of things to do and explore. Even after weeks of playing you still haven’t tried out everything and than we’re not only talking about modes but also new abilities, weapons and maps.
The most important innovation comes in the meta-game. Also Halo doesn’t escape the trend set by Call of Duty so also here you can build and personalize your character and you get select and improve different load-outs. Weapons, grenades, armour and also some sort of perks are present and you unlock them by making your avatar increase in level. We were a bit sceptic towards this change but in the end it’s set up perfectly and does add another challenge and tactical layer to the encounters we’ve been playing for so long already. The multiplayer of Halo was already very extensive and thanks to this new direction 343 built further on the strengths of the series. And than we haven’t even covered the improved editor (Forge) that guarantees years of new content and surprises. A remarkable achievement that delivers more variation and a more accessible game!
To summarize: Halo 4 fulfills the expectations on all accounts. The multiplayer is better, more varied and extensive than ever and promises more for the newcomer as well as the veteran to the games. Spartan Ops and the campaign bring the series to the year 2012 (and 2013) thanks to the adult story, beautiful graphics and refreshing presentation and make Master Chief and the gameplay awaken in a way that makes us completely ready for many more games in the series. A bargain!