Its been 5 years since we have seen the Master Chief in active duty. Many fans thought we ended the war and finally John 117 could get some rest. But as the game industry is being dominated by the Call Of Duty phenomenon, we need him now more than ever. Was the reinstatement of John 117 by 343 a joyous moment in video game history? Or did it just fall short of its mark.
We left off in the previous Halo trilogy with John 117 destroying another halo installation. The aftermath of the battle left John 117 and Cortana trapped in space on a damaged UNSC vessel. Unable to reach earth, John 117 went into cryogenic stasis and told Cortana to wake him when he was needed. Fast forward 4 years into the future and the floating UNSC vessel comes into contact with a doug covenant armada. John 117 is than awoken by Cortana to deal with the covenant threat. During their battle with the covenant forces John 117 and Cortana find out that they’re currently orbiting a forerunner home world. With all of their escape paths blocked off they are pulled into this mysterious planet by force and are stranded. From this point on John 117 and Cortana come in contact with the long thought extinct promethian species during their journey to reach the UNSC infinity and get back to earth.
The story in Halo 4 is one filled with sorrow, hope, and danger. From the moment that John 117 is alerted to Cortana’sÂ debilitatingÂ state, I was immediately hooked, and I all can remember saying at the moment was “Nooooooo!”. I didn’t expect 343 to able to produce a story that could hit home so easily just within the first 20 minutes of playing. The entire ride of Halo 4 has numerous moments like this, and continues to remind you that nothing lasts forever. 343 did a good job writing a story that would be able to introduce new characters and events without over doing it. My only problem with the new campaign is the realization that in a few years Halo 6 will be released, and there wont be any more Halo sequels after that.
Lets move on to the bulk of Halo 4, its gameplay. Halo 4’s gameplay feels reminiscent of Halo 2, crisp, powerful, and addictive. It’s obviousÂ from the moment you enter your first War Games match that 343 made sure to do a complete revision of the past Halo Reach system. For example, the game isn’t as punishing to new players as it was in Halo Reach. I remember when I took a long hiatus from Halo Reach it was a nightmare to not go negative. But in the process of making it more user-friendly they made two errors in their system. Trading kills is to prevalent in this game. I’ve had many instances where I have a person down to 1 shot and we trade when I still have a shield advantage over him/her. This can get very annoying when you lose match-ups that you should have survived. The spawns also could have been spaced out better, most of the time I kill someone within 3 seconds they’ve spawned and are back to finish me off. The gem to be had out of these two annoying flaws, is the emphasis on teamwork.
Teamwork in Halo 4 is an absolute must unless your playing a game-type like regicide which places you in the role ofÂ a lone wolf. You want to roll in packs of two during your War Game endeavors. Pushing the enemy by yourself will result in you getting killed if they’re better structured. Always put your attention on the target your partner is currently shooting so you both will have a better chance of surviving, and more importantly…winning the game. Oh and does 343 supply you with the tools to decimate and win matches. In Halo 4 you have access to special armor power-ups such as, health regeneration, holograms, a portable shield, x-ray vision, jetpacks, and many other game changing elements. You can create your own load-outs to decipher which assortment of weapons and power-ups you want to bring into battle. If the current load-outs you have aren’t proving effective, you can edit them while in a match. This creates a consistent element of surprise in online matchmaking.
But maybe some of you don’t like the competitive scene and just want to enjoy the Halo story with some friends, well 343 has you covered on that. Included in Halo 4 is a brand new episodic series called “Spartan Ops”. Every week 343 releases a new episode that is brokenÂ down into 5 chapters that you can embark on alone, or with friends. The most interesting part of Spartan Ops is the fact that 343 is giving multiplayer an actual story. It turns out the War Games aren’t just some mindless battles to be had, instead they areÂ training operations of the UNSC’s male and female Spartans. I find this to be the real jewelÂ in Halo 4 because it shows the commitment 343 has made into developing a new formula for the Halo series, and their plans to keep evolving it further.
Even the aesthetics of Halo 4 is a true evolution of Bungie’s franchise. Halo 4 visually is the only game out the truly pushes the Xbox 360’s graphic capabilities to the limit. The colors of every map, and spartan is vibrant and pop out on every visual interaction. This goes hand in hand with a strong soundtrack to go with your journey through the new trilogy. I don’t know exactly whoÂ composed the soundtrack, but they did a great job in capturing the themes that were prevalent in Halo 4’s story and combat.
Well all things come to end like I said in the earlier and so must this review. Though Halo 4 is an overall solid game, the new system still needs someÂ work in terms of gameplay. The annoying issues that surround War Games put a sour taste in my mouth, but I am positive 343 will fix said issues in their future patches. The new story is definitely going in the right direction, and sure to be a real piece of work in the upcoming years. In the end Halo 4 was a great salute to the past trilogy by bungie, and was a great way to kick off the last months of the Xbox 360’s life span.