So what do we know? Bungie wrapped it up, did an awesome and appropriate farewell with Reach, tied up the amazing first trilogy with a prequel leading to the first Halo, and handed the key over to 343 Industries. Up to this point, 343 Industries was formed to take over the project from Bungie, and what we want to know is if they have stepped up to the plate with this gargantuan undertaking of a franchise.
I’ll tell you now, I think they did an awesome job.
When we left off at the end of Halo 3, the Master Chief blew up one of the Halo constructs, and barely made it off the planet. The pillar of autumn was torn in half, and Master Chief was blown off to a different part of the universe, and presumed dead by humanity.
But, if you finished the Halo 3 campaign on Legendary, you’ll see that he ended up orbiting a strange mechanical planet, Requiem. This is where Halo 4 begins.
Cortona senses trouble and wakes the Chief, up from cryosleep. As the story progresses, we find out that Cortona is a year past her AI’s expiry date, and suffering from rampancy. If anyone read the lore, you’ll know that this is irreversible, and a horrible fate awaits our beloved companion.
But we’re not given a break. The chief faces a new enemy, the Prometheans, and a deeper story unfolds before us, and our first proper Antagonist reveals himself.
With Cortona’s rampancy, a tyrant of a commander and the Prometheans, the chief has his hands full, and we start to see the chinks in his armor and get to see a very human side of him in Halo 4.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t know squat about graphics. They’re telling me about increase polygons and everything, and sure I don’t really understand it, but HELL I sure appreciate it.
The graphics for Halo 4 are AMAZING! Trust me, take a quick look back to Halo 3, then come back. Everything pops, the stages are HUGE, and every scene and set piece is distinct and unique. From lush, dense jungles, to the cold, clammy, mechanical forerunner structures, your eyes get treated to amazing sights at every turn. It’s really hard to not get immersed in the game.
The Mo-cap is crazy good. CGI scenes are close to movie quality, and in-game graphics are almost just as good. Mackenzie Mason’s facial expressions as Cortona just bring the scenes to life. It’s amazing. Seriously, you’d think they squeezed as much juice as they could from the 360’s hardware. It’s better than ever.
Enemy models have been revised. Details are sharper, and each enemy has their distinguishable physical traits and feel. Jackels recoil at your individual bullet shots and scramble to pull their shield in front of them. Promethean dogs crawl across the walls, a horde of doom, descending upon you, while knights teleport across the field, ready to cut you in half.
With a new lineup of enemies, the Promethean, they blend surprisingly well with the old. They have their own distinctive look, feel, and attack patterns. But despite huge differences, they don’t feel alien to the game. (no pun intended)
Weapon models have also been revised. Each class, human, covenant and Promethean weapons comes in all shapes and sizes, making gameplay a unique choice depending on your load out. You’re never unprepared for a situation if you choose the right weapons.
And of course, The master chief is back, armor scratched and worn away, he looks like hell. But it’s him. His chest armor and pauldrons may have been modified a bit, he gets a more distinct under armor, but it’s him. And after a long 5-year break, it feels damn good to be back.
Steve Downes and Jen Taylor as Master Chief and Cortona respectively pulled off spectacular voice overs in the game, and I really think they stole the show. I mean, if I wasn’t so busy putting holes in grunts, I could just sit and watch the two of them talk. The chemistry between them is amazing, and just mind-blowing to watch in action.
All around, they got a solid cast of backup characters, the commander who and who played by, and who and who, delivered solid performances, and drove the story where it needed to go, convincingly.
The covenant have been the foundation of our enemy line, and grunts and jackals sound clearer than they’ve ever been, you’ll gonna be satisfied hearing the gurgling deaths of the Promethean knights and covenant elites.
The weapon sounds all have had a significant upgrade, and the old weapons feel beefier and it’s a lot more satisfying to let off rounds in the game.
The music score was produced by Neil Davidge, and as a Halo fan himself, stuck pretty close to the old Soundtracks, most notable of producers was Martin O’Donnell, and Neil described it as an evolution of the previous Halo music, designed to accompany the new style of the universe.
You’ll get a decent 8 hours in the campaign on an easy difficulty, and about 10 or so on a harder difficulty. The single-player campaign is meaty, fun and very rewarding, which is more than I can say about big industry FPS that is in the spotlight. You’ll have lots of fun.
Multiplayer gameplay is significantly tighter than the previous Halos. Everything great about the series is again replicated. Fast paced action is expected, and if you’re new and joining online, word of the wise, you’ll be feeding if your fps skills are not on par with the seasoned players.
One change that perhaps will take some time to adjust to is the load outs. They’re doing it like COD, and you’ve gotta level up to get anything more than the default load outs, which will end up putting you at a disadvantage if you’ve come in late.
In general, this makes multiplayer a bit inaccessible and frustrating to new, not so competitive players.
In the end, I had mixed feelings about it. I mean, still, some levels, are a hit or miss, and its a bit of a grind to get to point A, flip, and proceed to point B to flip another switch. But the game never bores you, and you’ll always find something to love, or to kill, around the corner.
All in all, I think 343 Industries pulled together an amazing job. By the end of the campaign I was bruised, beaten up, in tears, yet extremely warmed by the care and attention to detail 343 put into this amazing franchise.
I think Halo is very safe in the arms of 343 industries, and thank everyone in it for keeping the high standards and meeting the even higher expectations of its fan.
Bring on the next Halo.