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Game Review: Halo 4

December 24, 2012

(WARNING: Some spoilers present in review. Read at your own risk.)

What is probably the final Xbox 360 Halo game, the franchise at long last continues the story left off in Halo 3. Although it has been criticized, as many big franchises have, for being repetitive and stale, it continues to be the game to own on the 360. It’s Microsoft’s Mario, and has defined the system since its birth. Love it or Hate it, it is clear that as long as Microsoft makes/promotes their own video game console, Halo will always have a game on it, even without the company who created the franchise.

In the time the 360 has been the current generation of Microsoft’s video game console, we’ve had a conclusion to the first trilogy of Halo games, an add on story in-between Halo 2 and Halo 3, a prequel story that wrapped up the whole first storyline of the Halo franchise, a 10th anniversary celebration/remake of the first game, and now, Halo’s swan song to the 360, Halo 4. Halo’s final game on the 360 at long last continues the storyline. For better or worse, despite Bungie wanting to end the series at Halo 3, the story will continue.

For the purposes of this review, I will be focusing on the single player campaign. The Multiplayer adds quite a few new features that the single player has, one or two new modes, but as usual should be very familiar to veteran Halo players. This game was loaned to me, and thus I only had time to complete the single player campaign, so I can’t exactly give you a detailed review of multiplayer. For this, I apologize, as it is not a complete review. If the single player experience is what makes or breaks the game for you, then hopefully this review can be a little helpful.

Playability/New Features: If you’ve ever played a Halo game, you know most of the weapons you use, the ways the maps are set up, the way you fight enemies, ect. 343 Industries does not break the Halo formula we’ve come to known. Some of you will find that to be boring, some of you will prefer that. That being said, there are some new features that have been added into the mix. New forerunner weapons and power-ups have been added that are great to try out. Just like the covenant weapons are similar but different than UNSC weapons, the forerunner weapons add their own personal flavor to each weapon type. Some of the more stronger weapons are a blast to use, and make fight enemies and killing them much more enjoyable. Additional Power-ups such as Shields and Sentry assistants make times when you’re overwhelmed with enemies a little better (although it doesn’t completely take away the challenge). The all new weapon known as the MANTIS is a fun vehicle to use, and is very reminiscent to the walkers in Return of the Jedi. Armed with lasers and missiles, and easy to walk/turn around with, it is a great new addition to play with, and one of the more enjoyable new features of the game.

Graphics: I don’t typically like to factor in Graphics into grading. While it makes the game look nicer, I always place gameplay above looks. Not to mention many people confuse different art styles with poor graphics, and lower the game’s grade because of that. With that said, the game looks very nice and a level up from Halo: Reach. Halo’s graphics have definitely come a long way since Halo 3 first came out, that’s for sure.

New Enemies: The Prometheans are definitely an interesting new opponent. I wouldn’t say the main threat of the group, the Knights, look as intimidating as the Elites or the Brutes, but they add something the other two don’t have, the ability to teleport and ram into you from out of nowhere. They also can be revived by little ship things that come and take their data from defeat and bring them back if not destroyed. The Prometheans also have these robotic cat-like things that fire powerful weapons, and are much more intimidating than other minor foes the past Halo Enemies have had. They add somewhat of a new flavor to the franchise, and are a welcome addition to Halo’s lore.

The Story: The story is a rather interesting beast. I wouldn’t say it humanizes Master Chief as much as everyone claims it does, although I suppose the ending scene does show a little bit of character development. I don’t think those that criticize Master Chief for being an emotionless character will change their opinion though by the ending. I still find it weird that the Covenant play as big as a threat in this game as they did in the last trilogy. I assumed their storyline finished in the last trilogy, and felt maybe it would be best if we moved on to focusing on this new enemy. Their eventual team-up with the Prometheans felt kind of forced to be honest. The main villain of the game felt very much like a Star Wars rip-off, as did the final level of the campaign, which screamed Halo characters in star wars. Maybe it was an homage or something, but it felt way too forced to me. The other thing I didn’t understand was that it felt like all issues were wrapped up in this game, despite this being a new trilogy. Yes, I’m sure the villain will come back or something, but it would have been cool to have a cliffhanger to get excited about the next game. In fact, I was kind of disappointed by the lack of a special legendary mode ending. All Mode Endings are practically the same, except for

*SPOILER ALERT*

… the showing of Master Chief’s eyes/tiny part of face. I’m not sure if this will anger fans, who always wanted Chief’s face to be a mystery, but I still wish the Legendary had something special like previous Halo games had.

Final Verdict: Halo 4 doesn’t break that much from the Halo formula, but adds some nice new additions and enemies that are welcome. The Story may not make some fans happy, and at times it will feel like a star wars rip-off, but I think fans of the franchise should be ok with it. It may not be the most ground breaking game of the year, but for those looking for a little more fun in the Halo universe, I’d say it is worth it to give the game a try. It is on par with other Halo titles, and it doesn’t feel like less effort was put into it.

I’ll give it a 4/5. It’s not one of those games that is in my top 10 favorites, but is certainly a good game. Nice job 343. Keep up the good work.

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