Review by kingmeup
Since the first game Halo:Combat Evolved I have followed and loved the Halo franchise. Halo was able to impress and amaze with each new game revolutionizing the FPS world. At the end of Halo 3 many thought the series was over. Yet Bungie would keep the series alive by adding Halo 3:ODST, Halo Wars, and Halo:Reach. Bungie planned on Halo:Reach being the last game to the franchise wrapping up their crown jewel. But as fate would have it Halo was not yet finished. Microsoft would take ownership of the Halo franchise and put it in the hands of 343 Industries. Like many fans I was excited, but worried at the return of Halo; especially with a new studio in control. Would it be a success or a failure?
Halo has always been known for its massive and epic stories. Since the end of Halo 3 Master Chief has not appeared as the main character in any of the games that followed as they told the story of what happened in other parts of the war with the Covenant. Halo 4 would mark the return of the beloved Master Chief and a new enemy. As most Halo games, Halo 4's story plays out on an epic scale. It has been four years since we last saw the Chief and Cortana floating away in space. When the game begins we learn they have yet to be rescued, Cortana is dying, and that Cortana has to wake the Chief as the ship is under threat. The Chief awakens to learn Covenant outcasts have enter their ship and that they have floated towards a Forerunner shield planet. After holding off the Covenant the ship is sucked into the shield planet by a gravity well. From here the Chief and Cortana explore the world known as Requiem. While exploring they learn Infinity (a UNSC ship) is outside the shield world and could be sucked in by the gravity well. In the attempt to contact and warn Infinity, the Chief is tricked into unlocking an ancient Forerunner from who wants to wipeout humanity. From here it's your usual Halo campaign of follow the bad guy and kill anything in your way. Halo 4's campaign opens up the story of the universe on a more massive scale with an interesting twist that the fans of the story are sure to love. Halo 4's campaign lives up to the epicness we have come to love and expect.
Spartan Ops: 8/10
Spartan Ops in Halo 4 is 343's replacement of the fan favorite Firefight. While it may not be firefight, spartan ops brings a unique quality to the Halo franchise. Spartan ops plays out like a mini campaign. You play as a member of one of the new spartan squads called Crimson. Your objective is to support soldiers and scientist in investigating and clearing out enemy threats on Requiem. The missions are called episodes and each episode has five chapters, each chapter a mission. An episode takes about an hour to finish and longer on harder difficulties. This may not sound like much, but 343 has introduced a new system where each week they release a new episode online. Making it so you keep coming back week after week to continue the story. It may be short, but it is something fun and simple for you or your friends to enjoy besides the usual campaign and multiplayer.
Forge & Theater: 10/10
Halo 4 also includes the fan favorite forge mode where we can built our own custom maps to play and share with friends. Not much has changed to forge except some new functions to help you create your world even better. Such things as magnets which help connect pieces perfectly, no longer dealing the annoying task of trying do it yourself and accidentally moving it. Also the function of freezing items so that once they are in place they can not be moved unless you unlock it, also saving the mistake the moving it when trying to move something else. And another neat tool is to remove everything on the map at once to start all over or picking a select name and only deleting those items, no longer having to search the whole map looking for something you might have missed. And Theater mode is well, theater mode. Meant to share pictures and videos with your friends and the Halo community.
Multiplayer, the place that would set Halo on top of the FPS world early in it's franchise. At the beginning the first Halo game there was not online play, but you had the option to play with friends against each other in a way that had never been done before. Even after a decade Halo continues this tradition. Halo 4 heads back to some of its roots while adding new features and abilities that are needed to keep the game up to date with modern gamers. The online experience is smooth, fast paced and the graphics are beautiful. The leveling experience is simple and earning medals for your in game accomplishments is very satisfying. New weapons have been added to the game and the return of some fan favorites such as the battle rifle. But the most notable addition to the game is the loadout system. Like other online multiplayers the loadout system also players to customize what weapons and perks they will have in battle. You can choose a primary weapon, secondary weapon, what grenade type, an armor ability (such as jet pack), and two types of perks (such as extra ammo). This feature makes it a much better online experience starting with the gun you prefer and not having to search the map for it. In addition to this 343 kept it balanced though. The more powerful weapons such as snipers, rockets, and other overpowered weapons cannot be chosen for your loadout. Instead some of these weapons have a spawn on certain maps, but the most common way to get you hands on one of these deadly weapons is through the new ordinance drop system. Ordinance drops are earned by racking up a certain amount of points from in game battles. When you have earned enough points to call in a drop, on your screen will appear three random chooses. It can be anything from a armor ability to grenades or one of the overpowered weapons. You select which one you want and it is called in. This may sound unfair if a player is dominating the game, but since the drops are random they could get a useless item such as grenades or a speed boost. Besides the online play and loadouts is also the customization of your spartan and emblem. Giving each player their own unique way to stand out. I believe this could be the best multiplayer to date of the Halo Franchise.
After putting everything into consideration I believe Halo 4 is a solid 9/10 game. The Graphics are beautiful. The gameplay is smooth. The campaign is just amazing. Spartan ops is a nice new mode, but does not compare to firefight. Forge is just as good as usual. And the multiplayer is solid. I personally prefer Halo 3 as the best Halo game, but this game has just taken the #2 spot on my list of the franchise.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Halo 4 (US, 11/06/12)
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