The time has come, all be it earlier than originally expected, for Halo 4. The wildly popular first person shooter (FPS) essentially set the bar for the genre more than a decade ago when, then developer Bungie, launched the original. Much time has passed and now 343 Industries manages the coveted franchise and carries the torch for one of the most beloved gaming series of all time.
The question is, how has 343 Industries performed in their first complete Halo game development? In a word, superbly! Those that worried or wondered about the franchise and how it would fair in the hands of 343 need not be concerned any longer. Halo 4 is a fantastic piece of gaming software that reasserts itself as the dominate FPS.
If It Ain’t Broke..
Opinions were rampant as to whether Halo 4 could reignite excitement or fizzle out and diminish such a successful franchise. It appears 343 took the approach of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Not to say they simply put a new face on a tired scheme, but rather embraced the success of its predecessor to deliver their own piece to the series.
Smooth scrolling and game physics has been a staple in the Halo series and Halo 4 continues to put those features to good use. Master Chief moves effortlessly with the usual wide range of enemies, environmental changes, special kill cut scenes and background imagery that you’d expect from a Halo game.
Master Chief and Cortana
The story brings our hero and his AI sidekick face to face with a new evil, The Forerunners. By the time they figure out they’re being manipulated, it’s too late and so starts their journey. Without giving too much away, the story starts in 2557, some four years after the destruction of the Ark (Halo 3). Requiem, an artificial Forerunner planet is where M.C. and Cortana arrive.
From the beginning, the story grabs and draws you in with the initial, animated cinematic so lifelike that the characters seem like actual human actors and actresses as opposed to computer generated images. An apparent Covenant splinter group is encountered early on and M.C. must work his way through the faction to make sense of what’s happening.
Part of the story revolves around Cortana’s life cycle and her battle with rampancy. The rampancy provides Master Chief with the goal of locating a ship in order to travel to Earth so that Cortana can be repaired. This storyline could have used more focus, but ultimately works.
There are a great number of weapons and customizable extras to be had with items like support Sentinels and active camouflage to name a couple. Needless to say there are a great number of ways to take out the baddies.
There are several multi-player modes with players getting their own customizable Spartan in multi-player modes. Spartan Ops is geared towards four player co-op missions with difficulty scaled accordingly based on number of players.
War Games on the other hand bring several ways to enjoy online play. Several match types keep Halo a leader in online multi-play and re-play value. There have been some early server hiccups, but overall the experience has been positive thanks in large part to the gameplay.
Multi-play is a huge part of Halo 4 and best experienced yourself. Regardless, the online multi-play has the promise to captivate interest for quite some time.
Halo 4 is undoubtedly a buy. First person shooters are commonplace in the video game market now, but Halo is still the gold standard. The gameplay alone is worth the cost of the game with balance and precision major parts of it’s success. Add to the fantastic gameplay a plethora of multi-player options and online play and Halo 4 stands above the other FPSs.
The story is acceptable and captures the imagination early on. Fans of the Halo franchise will enjoy discovering and playing out the new storyline while newcomers to the game can dive in without knowing the history of the series.
Visually, Halo 4 is impressive. The frame rate is as close to perfection as we’ve seen yet and screen scrolling is amazing smooth. The graphics are vibrant, detailed and accurate. Characters look spectacular and clear even when engaged in hand to hand combat.
Halo 4 is for both Halo experts and newbies. It is outstanding and while we’ve said it already, it’s worth saying again – it’s impressive. 343 Industries has stepped up and delivered exactly what was needed and did so in an exacting way. It remains to be seen just how successful Halo 4 becomes, but it would be no surprise if it’s considered for game of the year.
Pick up your copy of Halo 4 and decide for yourself.
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