The day is here. Halo 4 is within our purchasing grasps. I along with millions of other Halo fans rejoice as the franchise makes the shift to a new developer, a new enemy, and a new play style. The question here, however, is if these new things hold up to the Halo revolution that once was. Halo 4 does exactly what Microsoft Game Studios and 343 Industries strived to accomplish; it brings Halo up to speed in comparison to the rest of the FPS games people are playing today. Some have called it “CoD-ifying” and some have called it milking. I prefer to call it a necessary, yet emotionally saddening, movement to an ever growing series. I love Halo 4, and am completely behind the direction 343 has taken the franchise.
The campaign for Halo 4 is one of the most ambitious entries to the already massive universe we’ve seen yet. Master Chief and Cortana have finally returned after four years of being lost on the remains of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. Contana wakes Chief up as they approach the Forerunner shield world “Requiem.” They soon discover that a group of fanatical Covenant has also come to Requiem with the intensions of worshiping the Forerunner technology there. After a “welcome back” fight with the Covies, Chief decides to crash to the planet’s surface and explore without shutting off the Forward Unto Dawn’s distress beacon, leading the UNSC Infinity to believe that it’s okay to get sucked into the shielded atmosphere of this uncharted, dangerous and concealing planet. New enemies called “the Prometheans” are Forerunner in origin, and open up new challenges for the player to take on. The plot further thickens when Chief and Cortana accidentally awaken an ancient evil and sparks the next chapter of this ever-expanding universe.
Honestly, I liked the Halo 4 story and I appreciate what they tried to do with it, but it packed too much information in too little amount of time. The campaign is about six hours while playing solo on heroic difficulty, so it’s pretty short compared to the other games of the franchise. There is about a nine to ten hour story packed into a six hour period, and when that happens it tends to throw people off, they get lost and confused. Not to mention there are several things never mentioned in the game that you’d have to look up or read the novels to understand, something I feel isn’t necessary. When there is a big title like Halo 343i should know that not everyone had read the extra story components. Setting that aside, the co-op is a blast, once again. There are plenty of action packed scenes, tons of awesome driving levels, new enemies to fight and a story that lives up to the expectations of Halo fans everywhere. It’s an overall win for campaign fans everywhere.
Taking place six months after the events of the campaign, 343i’s newest mode and replacement to Firefight, Spartan Ops, is an episodic and cooperative experience. You take the mantle of a Spartan IV who joins the fire team Crimson. Your commanding officer, Sarah Palmer, is another Spartan IV who directs several other teams under you. She sends you on missions to the Forerunner planet Requiem to fight the Covenant and Prometheans and take Forerunner artifacts back to the UNSC Infinity. There are currently five missions, but this is only the first chapter of the season. The first season is completely free and will feel fresh once a week when the new missions come out for everyone to enjoy. In total, Spartan Ops season one is apparently another twelve and a half hours of content that will be released over the first ten weeks of Halo 4‘s lifetime. That sounds like a good deal if you ask me!
Spartan Ops is quite fun, especially to play with friends. It’s very similar to Firefight, but with its own set of maps based on the campaign missions instead of multiplayer. Oftentimes you will be going from point A to point B while killing enemies and pressing buttons while listening to entertaining and sometimes even humorous dialog between the players, Sarah Palmer, and other Spartan teams. You get to choose a customized load out that you design. More on that later, Spartan Ops offers a cool and fun experience for you and your favorite cooperative buddy. However, I did find that playing online has bits of lag that was quite annoying. One mission, while playing with three other people, we found the lag so extreme that we couldn’t even shoot straight. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but it really seems to be prominent in Spartan Ops. Campaign and Multiplayer never seemed to have this problem. All in all Spartan Ops has been fun so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.
What else could possibly be in this package? Multiplayer, duh. Halo 4 truly takes the Halo multiplayer in a whole new direction. It’s even canon now, since the UNSC Infinity has simulations for the Spartans to train in. 343i has streamlined the Halo franchise in a way that fans old and new will all enjoy. I was very skeptical at first, but it really has grown on me. Halo 4‘s multiplayer offers hundreds of hours of entertainment with online matchmaking you and your friends will be playing all the way up until the sequel comes and takes your money.
You can customize a loadout for your Spartan by buying new weapons, armor abilities, and armor mods to give yourself a slight edge in one department or another. The weapons you can spawn with are classic Halo weapons like the Assault Rifle, Battle Rifle, and Covenant Carbine, although there are couple new ones like the Storm Rifle, which is really just a Plasma Repeater from Halo: Reach. I found there is an incredible about of balancing in these weapons, with every one of them hosting a different advantage over the other. Personally, I’d say that the DMR features the most bang for your buck.
In game, you earn points for everything you do, like killing, distracting, capping flags, etc. These points add to your personal ordinance meter, which when filled, allow you to spawn one of three random power ups or power weapons. This adds a random factor that core fans will love. As for the hardcore, they offer “Pro” playlist options which don’t have random factors. The maps also have spawned ordinance for you to snatch up for an upper hand.
Speaking of maps, they’re great compared to Halo: Reach, but not all of them are as good as the original trilogy’s. They blend very well with the featured gametypes old and new, one of which is Dominion. Dominion is the replacement for Territories. There are three bases to take over on the map which score you points and power weapons after taking them for a certain amount of time. All in all, Halo 4‘s multiplayer is something that people will be playing for a long time to come, or at least until Halo 5 comes out.
Forge has been re-defined and offers a bunch of new, useful features for creating all the maps to your heart’s content. Magnets allow snapping of similar objects, which eliminated the annoying coordinate-adjusting that fell upon both Halo 3 and Halo: Reach. Duplication now allows you to spawn the same item instantly for those times you just want to spawn many of the same building block. Trait zones allow you to create areas which power up or weaken players, a good example would be a low gravity zone. There are also three big forge maps for the player to build on, instead of just
one like Halo: Reach‘s Forgeworld.
It’s been streamlined, but it still feels like the Halo I know and love. The campaign was brilliant; it’s definitely the best looking yet. The multiplayer represents the future of the series as a whole, with new features as well as the same old features everyone knows and loves. It brings to light the direction the industry is headed as a whole. Spartan Ops season one will offer twice as much game time as one play through of the campaign will offer, as well as a fun experience for cooperative players and fans of Firefight. Overall Halo 4 is absolutely a must own for Halo fans and First Person Shooter gamers. 343 Industries has set in motion exactly what the Halo franchise needs to live on as a successful franchise in today’s gaming market.
I’d write more, but I have some more Halo to play before work!
*Top of the Genre (FPS)
*Hours of Content
*Evolution of a Franchise
I give Halo 4 a 4/5.