Pros: Graphics, Sci-Fi, FPS, Multiplayer, Campaign
Cons: In-game Sound and Soundtrack :(
The Halo Series and Plot
The Halo series, originally created by Bungie, is arguably one of the most incredible video game franchises yet. With adaptations to books, comics, anime and perhaps even a film in the near future – there is a huge following. Amongst this following however, was fear during the development of Halo 4 due to the developer change from Bungie to 343 Industries. Now 343 Industries, from what I have understood from interviews and articles, is most of the original Bungie employees, just under a different name and completely owned by Microsoft Game Studios. This scare was quickly diffused as I spent sleepless hours on the Halo 4 Campaign and Multiplayer.
I’ll give a little summary on the background of what the Halo Series is all about for those of you that don’t know without giving away the entire plot in case you intend to play Halo 1 – 4. Humans are in an intergalactic war with aliens known as the Covenant. You play as the famous cyber-human Master Chief, analogous to Robocop, enhanced to be a super soldier. Master Chief also is Cortana, an A.I hologram that plays a pretty unique and exciting role that I won’t get into too much detail about. She is analogous to V.I.K.I in I,Robot in some ways (except a protagonist).
Now what does Halo mean in the series? Halo actually refers to structures (and superweapons) that are habitable. There are actually fairly detailed religious beliefs tied into why the Covenant worships the Halo. Again, I will save this information for you to discover on your own. What you need to know though – is the Covenant has strong religious beliefs that motivate them to want to destroy humanity.
In Halo 4, Master Chief is called into combat against a new foe – the Prometheans. They are more intense, powerful and aggressive in comparison to the Covenant. And of course, you still must attack both. There were rumors that there would be a new ally in Halo 4, but these were false.
The gameplay plays similar to all of the other Halo games, but most similar to Halo: Reach (yes, sprint is still included!) The controls are still the same and give you options such as bumper jumper, my personal favorite. Active Camouflage, Jetpack, and other power-ups return. New additions include Promethean vision, autosentry and thruster pack to name a few. These new power-ups and the addition of new Promethean weapons encompass most of the “new” features of campaign gameplay. This however is the extent of new installments, besides of course new maps on a new planet.
Campaign: Single player or up to four players on split screen or Xbox Live where everyone is Master Chief. This is unlike other Halo games where players would be different characters during cooperative play. Skulls (hidden objects that grant special abilities) and other challenging achievements return. The difficulties are the same as other games. That means expect a cliffhanger ending if you complete the game on the hardest difficulty - legendary.
Spartan Ops: For those of you familiar to the Call of Duty franchise, Spartan Ops is analogous to Special Ops. These are objective missions outside of the Campaign that can again be played single player or cooperatively on split screen or Xbox Live. There will be at least 50 Spartan Ops by 2013, and who knows what downloadable content (DLC) will bring!
Multiplayer: Arguably the reason why most will purchase Halo 4 – now called Infinity multiplayer. Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Slayer and other favorite game types all remain. There are new installments, again analogous to the Call of Duty franchise and similar to Halo:Reach. You build your own Spartan, gaining XP by completing challenges in War Games, Spartan Ops and War Games and earning Spartan Points (SP). These SP can be used to purchase upgrades, weapons, and abilities. Level 50 is again the goal, but now at this level you can choose one of eight specializations, in which you must complete 10 ranks to be fully specialized. At this point, you can change your specialization – so you are not limited to one specialization.
Graphics, Music and Sound
I would relate the graphics in Halo 4 to that of L.A Noire. Faces are extremely life-like and even remind me of the movie Avatar. The landscape is absolutely beautiful – to the extent that a video game can be described as beautiful. The environment and characters definitely draw you further into the game than before. Video games are not real-life, but you definitely get lost in the Halo world in Halo 4.
The music is my only criticism of Halo 4. I personally have the Halo 3 Soundtrack in my iTunes library. Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori created a magnificent original soundtrack that nominated for a variety of Best Original Soundtrack and Score Awards. Now Neil Davidge has produced some great soundtracks in the past and the Halo 4 Soundtrack is good, but it does not blow you away like the Halo 3 Soundtrack does.
The sound balance of music, dialogue and war environment is fine, but again not great. The sound can probably only be appreciated with an extensive sound system such as the h Pioneer Home Theater System for Xbox 360 or a headset such as the Voyetra Turtle Beach or the Mad Catz Turtle Beach. But with my simple Microsoft Headset and Vizo 26" TV , the sound is simply “good”.
The campaign gameplay and plot are phenomenal as usual for a Halo game. The Prometheans, new weapons, and power-ups were all that Halo needed to make it exciting, new and innovative. The new additions such as Spartan Ops, SP and Specializations were a bit of a steal from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 , but nonetheless are a fun and new way to experience Halo.
The game is as challenging and exciting as a first-person shooter comes. My personal love for this game deals a lot with the plot and overall experience of Halo that I feel is not found in other first-person shooters such as Battlefield 3, Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (along with the other Battlefield, Gears of War and Call of Duty games)
The ending of the game strikes the inner sci-fi nerd in me just like the ambiguous endings in Prometheus and Inception. It makes me want to play the game again and get excited about another Halo game.
Console: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Genre: First-Person Shooter (FPS)
Release Date: November 6, 2012
ESRB Rating: Mature: Blood and Violence
Supports: 1-16 Players
-16 Online Versus Play
-4 Online Cooperative Play
My goal was to give a concise, detailed review of the Halo 4 Gameplay, Game Modes, Graphics, Music, Sound and The Halo Series and Plot without giving away any spoilers. If you have further questions or want more detail, feel free to click on my page and send me an e-mail!