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Halo 4 Review
developer: 343 Industries
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 06, 12
|» All About Halo 4 on ActionTrip|
Bungie Software gave us incredible games such as Marathon, Myth and Oni. In addition they were responsible for creating the Halo series, a legacy that's now been passed on to the folks at 343 Industries, after Bungie and Microsoft ended their long-year partnership. Okay, let's just recap for a bit. The Halo franchise was around for well over ten years and in all that time, the game still boasts a massive fan-base. Realistically, Halo belongs in the hall of top modern-day shooters (and rightfully so) and we've enjoyed playing Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach., which is why Halo 4 was way up on our list of priorities for 2012. Here we go then.
That's it. Move over, I'll drive!
Naked? Me? Really...
The latest addition to the Halo series carries on where Halo 3 left off, as players accompany the ultimate Spartan solider, also known to humanity as Master Chief. The previous installment ended with Master Chief being lost in space on a UNSC frigate - Forward Unto Dawn. Master Chief's glowing AI friend, Cortana, awakens him when someone tries to storm the ship. After that, the ship crash-lands on a Forerunner planet, called Requiem. Exploring this new planet, our hero also learns that the AI is reaching the end of its lifespan. Trying desperately to help Master Chief, Cortana starts to malfunction along the way, which creates problems and misunderstandings between the two. Meanwhile, the protagonist also encounters an all knew hostile race called the Prometheans and that's when it becomes a non-stop rollercoaster.
Halo 4 sees the Prometheans as the only real innovation in the Halo series. After all, the fact that it's been over 10 years and we're still fighting the Covenant is a bit of a discouragement; even to fans. There's no actual down side to this. Microsoft obviously lacks the courage to shift the franchise away from the war against the Covenant. Taking out the Covenant is as challenging and as fun as ever, but really, most of the foes just use the same tactics as before. Grunts still scream and run away if their leaders are taken out, Elites strafe left and right as soon as they are hit and will cower behind cover until their shields regenerate. To take Jackals out you aim for the opening on their shields and they're as good as gone. These are all familiar enemies, governed by familiar AI patterns. For some reason, it's still bloody entertaining and yet it's just going through the same stuff you've experienced many times in other Halo games.
The Prometheans are a tough bunch, especially the Knights that are capable of teleporting every which way during combat. Knights are often assisted in battle by Watchers - small hovering units that boost the Knights' armor, but they may also engage in combat themselves. Fighting Prometheans is the only concrete change brought to the Halo universe, in terms of gamepaly of course. It's a welcome change to be sure, albeit after a few hours, fighting Prometheans (Knights, Watchers and Crawlers) gets a wee bit monotonous. Breaking the monotony are the various vehicles and useful items such as jetpacks that help Master Chief battle a traditionally overwhelming enemy force. Using the Jetpack is as fun as ever and I really got a kick out of those nifty Thruster Packs, which help you get out of a jam and are mighty useful when you can to displace urgently during firefights.
That's not gonna end well.
Promethean Knights are resilient bastards.
The competitive multiplayer represents another huge chunk of the game, offering new elements and other cool benefits for players. Some changes were incorporated such as the possibility of running endlessly. Naturally, gamers still have the opportunity to dive into 4-player co-op online matches or 2-player co-op, on top of the standard multiplayer joined by four players locally. The best aspect of the multiplayer is the sense of progress one gets from taking part in matches. Players accumulate experience and there's also the episodic story-flavored mode called Spartan Ops, which pits a bunch of Spartan IV soldiers exploring Requiem. During the course of 10 weeks, players get a new cinematic video that continues the story, following the events of Halo 4. New levels and maps, coupled with the aforementioned facets, make Halo 4's a multiplayer delight.
Even with its challenging gameplay, spectacular atmosphere, awesome moments in the narrative, great music and voiceovers, Halo 4 doesn't make that bold step everyone's been hoping for. The single-player campaign is a bit shorter than we expected, so we have a feeling a lot of players will be pissed off by that. Also, Halo 3 is not as innovative as many thought it would be and it definitely doesn't push the series forward as much as much as the publisher promised. On the other hand, 343 Industries proved they are competent enough to carry on Bungie's legacy, giving us not only a thoroughly enjoyable shooter, but one of the most gripping chapters in the Halo storyline so far.
8.8 Very Good
The Covenant and the Prometheans are relentless foes, spectacular action scenes, storyline is finally beginning to take some shape with compelling characters set in a premise we've been following for over 10 years, first-class voiceovers, Neil Davidge's new soundtrack is a great addition to the game, awesome new multiplayer features;
Single-player's a bit on the short side, all these years have passed and we're still fighting the same foes.
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