In 2010 we finally said good-bye to Bungie as the captains of the ship known as Halo. I’ll be honest, I’m in the minority that did not enjoy Reach as much as the previous entries and I started to lose hope in the franchise. With 343 Industries taking the helm, it hit me with both worry and excitement.
We finally got to see more of the epic saga of John-117, the Master Chief, and his partner AI, Cortana. The story comes in 4 years after the ending of Halo 3. They are sucked onto the Forerunner planet below them and get into an adventure that I found more exciting, more enjoyable and with a better story than any Halo game in the past.
There are a few changes control wise, but it is very easy and natural to adjust to them. The added Sprint is a very welcomed changed, along with Master Chief gaining armor abilities throughout the campaign. Any fan of the series will definitely be happy with the additions as the game still feels like Halo even with them.
There are a few new weapons all around as well. The Covenant got a couple of new guns including the awesome Storm Rifle which is almost like their version of the AR. The UNSC got a good amount of new weapons including the SAW, which is a powerhouse AR style gun, and the devastating Sticky Detonator which allows you to shoot grenades that stick to targets that you can detonate at any time.
The biggest arsenal of new weapons comes from the Prometheans, though. They have weapons that have UNSC equivalents like the Scattershot (shotgun) and the Binary Rifle (sniper rifle) but they have unique weapons as well. One of the destructive unique weapons is the Incineration Cannon which is an instant kill if it hits you.
The Infinite Multiplayer is what everyone has been dying to hear about, I’m sure. There are a few different things that you can do within it. Forge, of course, makes a return and its even better than ever. Theater mode is also back. Spartan Ops is a new addition and then there is the classic Matchmaking system. There are a few choices within Matchmaking; Infinity Slayer, Big Team Infinity Slayer, Dominion, Regicide, Flood, Capture the Flag, Oddball, King of the Hill, and Team Slayer Pro.
The Slayer game types are what you would expect them to be, as with CTF, KotH and Oddball (New to Oddball is the ability to pass the ball now). However, Dominion is almost like a new take on Territories; you must take over bases to win and you can upgrade the bases defenses to help you hold on to them. Regicide is one of my favorite new game types. In Regicide, its a 6 Spartan free for all but with a twist, the person in the lead is the “King” and has a bounty on their head. Whenever you kill the King you get a Regicide and a bonus added to your score; this adds more direction to the mayhem than in standard Free For All.
Flood is the new form of Infection. When you are taken down by a Flood and become infected you actually become a Flood infected Spartan. This is very cool as you have a unique character design and even your visuals are different; you also have altered physics. The game is overall very much like Infection, but feels more real now since its not just Green or White Spartans coming for you.
Spartan Ops is one of the new additions to the game and is similar to Spec Ops from the Call of Duty franchise. However, unlike Spec Ops, there is a story to Spartans Ops. You are following Crimson Squad (a squad containing your Spartan) as you go through a story that takes place a few months after the events of the Campaign. The missions are short and very fun, which adds to the replayability of them as you don’t dread the thought of them; hell, I’ve already ran through each of the current missions at least 4 times with my buddies. One of the great aspects of Spartans Ops is the fact that none of the levels are just reused campaign levels, they are all unique locations. Each week they are adding new missions to continue on the story for a total of 50 missions in Season 1.
One of the things I think 343 hit nearly dead-on was balancing in Multiplayer. Nothing really seems too overpowered. Sure, some guns should have damage reduced a little but nothing major. Even the ordinance drops, which honestly scared me when I heard about them earlier this year, are fine. The scoring system is different but the overall effect of it is the same, its still a race to a certain score. One thing that worried me when I first saw the scoring had changed was that I was concerned that people could get special kills and boost score and that just isn’t what Halo was about. Thankfully, 343 did not let that happen and while you can get bonus points they don’t affect the actual game. For example, you can get multiple points for a kill, however, they only go to your score, not your team’s. This means that 1 player can have…say 250 points but their team only has 200. The personal score only affects how much EXP you gain after the match ends. Worry not, the mutliplayer, even with all the changes, still feels like Halo.
I honestly can’t find much to complain about with this game. There are a few tweaks they should make here and there with some of the balancing but overall its not a big issue. Forge is great with many new tools to help map builders and the multiplayer is a complete blast. On top of that, the Campaign is easily one of the best, if not the best, in all of Halo. Spartan Ops gives you something to come back to pretty regularly so you never really feel like you’ve “done it all.” If you’re a fan of the Halo series, don’t worry Halo 4 does the series justice. Hats off to 343 Industries for shattering all expectations of mine and for making very possibly the greatest Halo game to date. Halo is back.
- One of the best campaigns in the series
- Multiplayer is phenomenal
- Spartan Ops is a complete blast
- Some weapons, such as the DMR and SAW, seem a tad bit strong
- No specific playlists, such as SWAT or Grifball, yet
George Alex: I’ll be honest, when Halo 4 was announced alongside Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary back at E3 2011, I was more excited about Anniversary. Despite Halo 3’s Legendary Ending and the mystery that it led to, I had no initial interest in playing a non-Bungie Halo game, let alone an entire trilogy. My skepticisms remained for a while, even knowing that 343 Industries was led by Frank O’Connor. When details on Halo 4 started to emerge I was intrigued, to say the least, but still unsure if they could do justice to the series. When news of custom classes, grenade-proximity indicators, and other Call of Duty-esque aspects were announced for Multiplayer, my concerns only grew. I was now excited for the game, but worried as to how the multiplayer would turn out.
Getting to play Halo 4 at New York Comic Con put most of those worries to rest, but getting 10 minutes with a game isn’t enough time to form a very strong opinion on a game. Over the course of this week I’ve had more than enough time to play the game and formulate my opinion. To say that it’s a great game is an understatement, but 343 has gone above and beyond, they’ve created not only a great sequel to Halo 3, but a strong start to a new trilogy. The single player was good in terms of length, great in terms of story, and amazing in terms of some of the new mechanics and vehicle sections found throughout the campaign.
Multiplayer, where my concerns had been, is tremendous. I’ve been playing mainly Team Infinity Slayer, but have also played Big Team, Oddball, Dominion, and Flood, all of which I’ve loved so far. I’m glad to hear SWAT will be making a return, and hope to see the return of more classic playlists and game modes. Spartan Ops is a great idea, and has been well executed with the first episode. The model for Spartan Ops is something I consider to be innovative, it’s essentially a second campaign with episodes coming out as though it were a TV show. Halo 4 is one of my favorite games in the series, and likely my favorite game to come out this year.