Halo 4. This is arguably one of the most important video game releases of the year, and it’s definitely the most important release for the Halo series. 343 Studios took the responsibility of the franchise from Bungie, and the whole world waited, watched, and played to determine if the new studio lived up to Bungie’s very high standards. But were they able to do so?
The Campaign (8/10)
343 Studios made a very smart decision and added a new enemy to the Halo video game world with the Forerunners. Using Halo lore from the books, 343 Studios was able to add something completely new to the game without upsetting hardcore Halo fans. This is one of the smartest moves the studio could have done, since the Halo series was beginning to get a little old. Halo 4 has been out for a week and a half and I just now finished the campaign. It’s challenging and fun, but I was interested in the multiplayer so much more. And while the campaign is great, I have to admit that I don’t think it’s the focus of Halo anymore.
Halo 4 brought the trademark epic feel back to Halo. Not only did they have me staring in fascination at the quality of the animation, but they also moved the story along in a more interesting way than Halo 4′s predecessors. Encountering the Forerunnners for the first time made me feel like I was playing Halo 1 again. It’s exciting to see a new enemy and not know right off the bat the best way to defeat them. Having to revamp your strategy like I did in Halo 3 against the Brutes is one of the best part of this campaign.
But the layout of the campaign was very much like the other Halos, which is an outdated design. Having players fight through enemies to push a button was cool 12 years ago, but now it’s just stale. I wanted to do more with Master Chief than get to the next checkpoint. Sadly, the majority of the game is just running to the next terminal or button, all while fighting hordes of similar enemies along the way. The level design in Halo 4 was fantastic, and the variety of levels can keep a player interested. Luckily Halo 4 was a lot like Halo 3 in the way that it balanced a variety of different battle types, ranging from on foot and tank battles all the way to Pelican combat. But like I said, there should have been a greater variety of missions.
Another disappointing part of the campaign was the characters. Master Chief’s role wasn’t disappointing, in fact I’ve never been so enthralled with his character. Neither was Cortana’s, who got way more interesting from her annoying personality in Halo 3. But the other characters, like Master Cheif’s comrades, were very lacking in personality. They accepted stereo-typical personalities and I didn’t attach with anyone else from the story. Most importantly, the antagonist (who I won’t name for spoilers sake) just didn’t cut it for me.
Overall, though, the campaign is amazing. Sure, I have some problems here and there, but Halo 4 can contend with any Halo that came before it. I focused on the negative because you can hear about how great the graphics and sound are on any video game website. And Halo really did excel in these categories But these are the reasons I felt like Halo’s campaign couldn’t score a 10/10. Thankfully I thought the campaign was great, and will be replaying it again soon. Especially because I felt like ODST and Reach both were games Bugnie made to push the franchise for all that it had. Having 343 Studio’s bring back a classic, but with an updated feel is a warm welcome.
The Multiplayer (9.5/10)
Multiplayer is where Halo really kicked ass. Call of Duty has taken the go to multiplayer title away from Halo in the last couple of years. But after playing countless hours of Halo 4 online for the past week and a half, it’s safe to say that Halo won that title back.
Halo 4 took the most popular parts of other successful FPS games like Call of Duty and Crysis and made them their own. The loadout customization in Halo is a trait that is required in this age of FPS gaming. But Halo kept it simple, not allowing players to start off with super powerful weapons like shotguns or sniper rifles. At first I thought the load outs were disappointing because they didn’t allow me to customize my player as much as a Call of Duty would. But after playing it for the past week, I realize that this is actually a godsend. Everyone can tailor their weapon and skill sets to their specific play style without having weapons that everyone uses because they’re more powerful.
It’s important that 343 Studios took inspiration from other successful FPS games. Bungie’s multiplayer was beginning to repeat itself by not bringing enough new features to the table. But Halo 4 brought in the new with a balance of keeping old features. Take, for example, the weapon drops in Halo. These powerful weapons spawned in the exact same place in earlier games, and once you knew a map you knew exactly where the power was. It made the game more of a race for the strongest weapon than a competition of skill.
Instead of leaving all the weapons to the load outs, Halo 4 has weapon shipments that you can drop. These weapon shipments are similar to Call of Duty kill streak rewards, but they’re Halo-ized and have a much different feel. Same with individual weapon customization. Instead of completely ripping off weapon attachments and changing the way Halo feels, they added Forerunner weapons. These new guns add a little difference to old weapons in a very Halo way.
The multiplayer games in Halo 4 just flow. You get sucked in because they’re just so much fun. But 343 Studios went even further than that and added Spartan Ops. Competivite missions that get added onto every week? Yes Please! Not only are they a whole lot of fun, and not only can you play them with other people, but it’s got a great story line. Its characters especially make it even more interesting than the main campaign. Spartan Ops is great because you can’t finish them all at once, and it’s going to be a reason to continue playing Halo at least weekly for months to come.
There are a very small number of problems that I have with the multiplayer. Halo 4‘s maps are fun, but a little basic. There’s not a single map that really stood out to me. The maps are no where near boring or stale, but they didn’t have the flair that the rest of the multiplayer requires. I also don’t like the old school Halo interface. There’s more to multiplayer than number of kills. At least 343 Studios ranks players on points, which include assists and such, but in a deathmatch game, the number of deaths is just as important as the number of kills. And lastly, there’s no horde. But in all seriousness, I think the Spartan Ops are going to end up being more fun anyways.
Overall, I have almost no complaints with Halo 4‘s multiplayer. It’s fresh, it’s edgy, and it’s just plain fun.
I have to recommend this game not just to Halo fans and FPS lovers, but to anyone that’s a gamer. Halo has always been and will always be a game that’s synonymous with video games in general. The name Halo rings as much of a bell in the average American as Donkey Kong, Mario, or Pokemon does. Not only is this a great sequel to the amazing original Halo trilogy, but it’s an entire new game in and of itself. 343 Studios did an awesome job. They brought the greatness back to Halo, and if you haven’t experienced it yet, grab a copy today!