Halo 4 Review

The most ambitious thing 343 industries does in Halo 4 is omitting the plasma rifle.  Just about every other aspect of the newest installment in the Halo saga is by-the-numbers. This is definitely a Halo game, but a very forgettable one. Let me iterate that this is by no means a terrible game, but much of what this game tries to do other Halo games have done better. The best aspects of  Halo 4 are held back by its blemishes resulting in a game that doesn’t have enough memorable moments to leave a lasting impression.

The campaign begins four years after the events of Halo 3, the Master Chief is awoken by his AI partner Cortana, the Chief fights his way through the ship to discover that it is orbiting an artificial planet. After crash landing, the Chief uncovers an ancient evil who plans to, you guessed it, try to take over the universe.  This ancient evil, referred to as the Didact, has little to offer the story as an antagonist. He is reminiscent of Harbinger from Mass Effect 2 (he even has the same voice actor) although he isn’t nearly as talkative. The Didact meets the bare minimum for driving the story forward. His motivations are better explained through the seven terminals scattered across the campaign, but unless you have a Xbox Live Gold account, you won’t be able to view them.

Cortana’s battle against ‘rampancy’ is easily the strongest aspect of Halo 4’s campaign.

However, the narrative, for all it’s flaws does have a few merits. Early in the game, the Chief learns that Cortana is dying, or rather she is deteriorating because of her the eight years she’s been in service (AIs supposedly only last for seven). Unlike earlier Halo games, the relationship between Chief and Cortana is well explored and for the most part well executed. It scrapes a classic Science Fiction theme of Human vs. Synthetic life. This gives Halo 4 something other Halo games lack, but it isn’t enough to salvage the lackluster narrative.

Halo 4 introduces a new race of antagonists called the Prometheans. They bring an arsenal of weapons that unfortunately, behave exactly like the human counterparts. There’s an alien shotgun, sniper rifle and assault rifle among others. The Prometheans themselves inspire very little ingenuity among players. Outside of a single enemy type that occasionally buffs and revives enemies, the Prometheans are essentially high-tech bullet sponges. The Covenant return and are a much more interesting enemy than the Prometheans but are essentially inserted into the Campaign to remind the player that this is in fact a Halo game. Not much else has changed, including the baffling checkpoint system (I was sent back close to half a level because of it). The campaign consists of eight levels that will last you under ten hours; I played on the second hardest difficulty, your mileage will vary depending on your skill set and difficulty.

The Promethean Knights are tough customers, nothing a healthy prescription of bullets can’t fix.

Once the campaign is finished, you can either delve into the Online Multiplayer or familiarize yourself with a new game mode called Spartan Ops (Both require an Xbox Live Gold subscription). Spartan Ops is a cooperative game mode that takes place 6 months after the end of Halo 4. Each mission is a chapter, sorted with four others into an Episode. 343 industries has promised to release one episode for free each week. Every episode also comes with a short pre-rendered cut-scene that offers story hooks for the missions. While this all sounds impressive, the missions all take place on a recycled set of maps, some of which are ripped straight from the campaign. In conclusion, Spartan Ops plays very similar to the Firefight mode of previous games, but with a very vague story, loosely wrapped around each mission. The objectives are the same throughout the Campaign and Spartan ops, the missions can be summed up by: Go to Point A, press X here, Go to Point B, destroy this object, Go to Point C, cut-scene. The game simply throws enemies in between each objective; the missions are hardly creative even by Halo standards.

That leaves the multiplayer which is unsurprisingly Halo 4’s strongest aspect. It adds several new features such as Kill-Cams, Ordinance Drops (a lite version of Call of Duty’s killstreaks), and weapon loadouts (are you sensing a pattern here?). These new features feel more like tweaks than changes. It improves on Halo Reach’s multiplayer (less reliance on Armour abilities), but like the rest of Halo 4, it won’t change anyone’s mind. Fans of Halo will enjoy it, fans of other shooters will not.

While Halo 4 is by no means an awful game, it represents what’s wrong with the video games industry. It’s an uninspired sequel that takes little risks and leaves even less of a lasting impression. It exists only to make Microsoft money though it’s hardly the worst offender. Longtime fans will enjoy it, but if anyone reading this is at all curious to what the fuss is all about with Halo, save your money for something better.

Final Score: 2/5

About my scoring system (please read before commenting on my score).

I use a five point scale to review games for several reasons. It allows me to clearly distinguish good games from bad, it also allows me to use the full range of the scale from 1 to 5. I previously used a ten point scale but I noticed that I never scored games below a six, meaning I was essentially using  a five point scale already.

This means that my system can be a bit misleading when comparing it to a ten point scale. A 2/5 does not equal 4/10 like most people would think. Because of how I came about my system, the proper score is achieved when you add five to both numbers. So 1/5 becomes 6/10, 2 becomes 7 and so on and so forth. This allows better comparison between my score and the more prominent 10 and 20 point scales that other reviewers use.

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About Sam Hale

Autistic, young adult and lots on my mind.

Posted on December 18, 2012, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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