Review by jparis09

"The Return of Master Chief"

It's been a long time since Master Chief has graced us with his presence, 5 years to be exact. Back in 2001, Bungie introduced Halo: Combat Evolved. Bungies new IP was immediately hit with critical acclaim and was praised as one of the best FPS games of all time. As the years went by, their success continued with sequels, as well as a prequel (Halo Reach). Now the Halo franchise is in 343 Industries hands. Halo 4 is the first in a brand new trilogy. With new developers trying to fill the massive shoes already set by their predecessors, doubts about Halo 4 was expected. Well now Halo 4 has been released and all questions have been answered. Not only has 343 Industries released a Halo game on par with the previous titles they have arguably developed the best in the series. Tune it and find out why.

Story 8/10

The year is 2557. 4 years after the events of Halo 3. Forward Unto Dawn is under attack. Chaos is in the galaxy. It's time Cortana, wake him, you need him. Oh yes, Master Chief is back. Unfortunately for our friend Master Chief, Cortana didn't wake him up simply because she missed him. The Covenant is back. At the beginning of the game The Dawn is under attack by an unknown enemy. Master Chief fights his way through and finds out that this unknown enemy is actually the Covenant. Eventually The Dawn crashes. Master Chief awakens on the Forerunner planet Requiem. Soon after your explosive entry to this planet you are introduced to a new type of enemy, The Prometheans. The Prometheans are an advance AI enemy. They are faster and smarter than the Covenant. Halo 4 story isn't about the Covenant or the Prometheans though. 343 has created a deeper more personal story between Master Chief and Cortana. The campaign digs into Master Chief's humanity more than it exploits the fact that he is a complete badass. Cortana is slipping into “rampancy”. This is a condition that happens to all UNSC AI constructs after they have been in service for more than 7 years. Cortana is in her 8th year of service. Her rampancy causes her to act erratically and her vast knowledge eventually will cause her to think herself to death. Master Chief epic battle between the Covenant and the Prometheans as well as his undying determination to save Cortana will surely keep you immersed in what is a somewhat short campaign but unforgettable one. Now on to the bread and butter of Halo, the multiplayer.

Multiplayer 9/10

Oh yes the cream of the crop. The multiplayer (nicknamed War Games) in Halo 4 is outstanding. 343 has changed some things from the past while improving on elements that has made Halo's multiplayer so popular. There are tons of game modes. You have your Infinity Slayer, Flood, Oddball etc. Old weapons are back such as the DMR, plasma pistol, etc. With that said there are also a lot of new weapons such as the scattershot, the SAW, boltshot and the merciless incinerator cannon. With the addition of all these new weapons 343 has surprisingly kept weapon balance perfect. No gun is overpowered because there is a counter for everything. This is really a positive thing for the simple fact you don't feel like you don't have a chance when your opponent has a certain weapon (Unless they have that good old incinerator cannon). There are also a new “ordnance drop” introduced. Doing certain things in the game such as killing an enemy on a killstreak or objectives in certain game modes will allow you to use them. When you have an ordnance drop you will be able to get a new weapon immediately, or another buff such as speed, power, or armor. Ordnance drops are useful because they can turn the tide of a battle instantly.

There are currently 10 maps out right now. The maps are very versatile and most of them encourage you to change your playstyle depending on the map you choose. Vehicle battles are stellar. Ghost, tanks, warthogs, and there are even a mech! Yes mech's are new additions to the vehicle play. Just imagine a walking death machine reigning destruction on your opponents. 343 has put a huge emphasis on vehicle based play on the larger maps. There is once again a ranking system implemented here. You get XP for playing multiplayer and unlock points to unlock new weapons and specialties for your loadouts. You can customize the look of your Spartan and unlock cooler looking armor by doing certain challenges. This gives you a way to show off to the slackers that you put in hard work and your guys has more cool points than theirs. The UI in Halo 4 is more visual this time around as it allows you to see every player Spartan and their player card. This is a nice concept but unfortunately everything is really cluttered and sometimes can be hard to navigate through. The menus are also cluttered. This doesn't take away from the overall experience thankfully.

There is a brand new game mode introduced called Spartan Ops. Spartan Ops is a Cooperative Mode replacing Firefight from Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST. It is downloadable, episodic continuation to the campaign. You and up to 3 other friends can team up and play as Fireteam Crimson. You are deployed on Requiem and fight the Covenant and the Prometheans. Every week there will be new episodes to download and play. This is a nice addition as it gives us players something brand new to look forward to every week. The only flaw here is the fact that 343 felt the need to replace Firefight with this instead of including them both. Firefight should have still made the final cut. Forge is also back as well. Forge is a game mode that allows players to play as well as edit multiplayer maps however they see fit. For the most part Forge has stayed the same as it has been in previous installment with minor tweak here and there. Theater mode is also back as well, so now when you own all of your friends you can replay it and talk trash even more. From the moment you start War Games it is evident that 343 hasn't miss a beat taking what Bungie made great and capitalizing on it. Whether you're editing maps, blowing enemies to oblivion with the incinerator cannon, or crushing Spartans in your mech, you will surely be pouring hundreds of hours in the multiplayer portion of Halo 4.

Graphics & Sound 10/10

Gorgeous. Halo 4 is simply gorgeous. Without a doubt this is one of the best looking games to be released this generation. The CG cutscenes are second to none on consoles. Character models are extremely impressive. The environment is stunning. Colors shout out at you and are very bright and vivid. This is Halo at its best. Master Chief has never looked better. The heavily revamped engine shines in Halo 4. During my playthrough I had absolutely no graphically or performance issues at all. No popups, no screen tearing, no freezes. Everything runs smooth and it is obvious 343's budget for Halo 4 had absolutely no limit. This game runs and looks damn near perfect. The sound is no different. Gunshots have never sounded better. Every weapon sounds crisp and unique. Explosion sound great. The voice acting is superb. Everything just sounds like a AAA like Halo 4 should sound. The score is immersive as it really puts you into the fight. The graphics and sounds in this game are undoubtedly top notch and can compete with the best in the gaming industry hands down.

Replayability 10/10

There are tons of things to do in Halo 4. The campaign has 4 different difficulty settings with Legendary being the hardest. Completing Legendary solo is a hard task in itself, not the mention using the skulls. As stated earlier the multiplayer is so robust so the multiplayer alone will surely have you losing track of the countless hours you pour into Halo 4. The weekly release of Spartan Ops episodes will also extend playtime. Replayabilty is not an issue at all in Halo 4. Expect to have absolutely no social life.

Final Verdict 9/10

Pros

+ Stunning Visuals
+ Deep Multiplayer
+ New Enemies

Cons

- Short Campaign
- Cluttered Menus
- No Firefight

Closing Comments

Halo 4 is an amazing game. 343 Industries has proved to fans that Halo 4 is good hands. With the addition of new enemies, weapons, and vehicles the multiplayer is as good if not better than it has ever been. The story is solid and Halo looks absolutely gorgeous. This is the first Halo in the new trilogy and 343 Industries success with Halo 4 has already created huge anticipation for Halo 5. For anybody who thought the new developers might result Halo 4 being a disappointment, I can firmly and honestly say 343 Industries has done the complete opposite and has created arguably the best entry to one of the greatest series ever created. Enjoy.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/12, Updated 11/14/12

Game Release: Halo 4 (US, 11/06/12)


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