Halo 4: 343 Industries’ Successful Franchise Takeover (Review)

Halo 4 Review

The Halo franchise is one of the biggest in the video game industry. Every game has been better then the last gaining fans, awards, and praise from critics. That said, most people were worried about Halo 4, with a new studio working on the game and what looks like significant changes, many fans were worried it wouldn’t maintain the same level of quality. Well let me calm the fear, Halo 4 is superb, even if the experience is different. Read more!

The story takes place four years after Halo 3. Master Chief and Cortana are still floating through space when they discover a Forerunner planet and their ship is boarded by the Covenant. Soon they find out one of the remaining Forerunners is on the planet of Requiem. The Forerunner is known as the Didact. He sees humanity as evil and wants to destroy the human race. So it’s up to the Chief and Cortana to stop him and the members of the Covenant that have allied themselves with him.

The smaller more personal story is about Cortana, the AI that is eight years old. AIs in the Halo universe deteriorate, go mad, and then die around this point known as rampancy. Cortana was made differently than most Ais, so there is a chance she can become fixed if the Chief can get her back to Earth to find her creator Dr.Halsey. So stopping the Didact and getting Cortana back to Dr. Halsey are the two main objectives. The overall story is good, but a lot of the context is from other media such as books, so if you have not been keeping up with the fiction you are going to be confused at points. The bigger picture is fine, but the best parts involve the relationship between Chief and Cortana with her going through rampancy. It tries to tug at your heartstrings and succeeds to a certain point, though for the most part it isn’t as effective as it could be. Overall this is a good start to the new trilogy but could have been better; especially at filling you in on stuff that happen in other pieces of fiction. That said the most enjoyable part is the interaction between Chief and Cortana.

Now the campaigns gameplay is what you would expect from a Halo campaign. You go from checkpoint to checkpoint fighting enemies with the occasional set piece moment or vehicle section. The enemy AI is still superb, while shooting and driving are both a blast. The new additions beyond some weapons are the Promethean enemies; they are the robot style creatures that were created by the Forerunners. There are four kinds: Turrets, Wall Crawlers, Knights, and a flying drone. The turrets speak for themselves as they stay in place and fire giant laser beams. Crawlers stick to walls and move around shooting you from all angles ganging up on you, Knights are the closest thing to a standard soldier they have a gun, sword, and can teleport, and the drone flies around supporting other enemies with shields, throwing grenades, and bringing back the dead. The new enemies are fun to fight though at times the crawlers can feel cheap because of their nature of going to places where you can’t see and ganging up on players. For the most part, it’s more Halo, my biggest issue is with how short the campaign is. There are only eight missions and I finished the game in less than six hours on normal. This obviously extends when you search for the terminals that add extra context to the story or go back on higher difficulties on co-op, but having the initial run take only five hours and thirty minutes really bummed me out. That and there is no campaign scoring in the game making the skulls that make the game more difficult pointless.

With a campaign this short, it’s a good thing that the multiplayer is superb. Significant changes have been made starting with load outs. Halo: Reach had load outs, but you couldn’t customize them the way you can in Halo 4, also in Reach, all of them were unlocked from the start. Well in Halo 4, you have to earn any and all perks, weapons, and armor customization, pretty much everything. That said you can unlock the better weapons and a lot of the better perks really early on so no need to worry about balance issues. 343 Industries has added several new game types: Regicide where killing the leader earns you more points, Dominion a territories base control mode and Flood which is basically Infection from Reach but the other team turns into the flood and make noises making a scary game mode even more terrifying.

A change made similar to kill streaks in Call of Duty is ordnance drops. Whenever you do something that earns you points, you fill a meter and when it’s full, you can call in a random drop of a power weapon or bonus such as over shield, speed boost, or damage boost.

On another note several changes have been made to existing game modes. In Oddball and Grifball, you can throw the ball to other teammates, CTF no longer has a single flag option, and Assault, Territories, Invasion, and Head Hunter have been taken out all together. Overall the new modes and changes are very entertaining, but the loss of some modes from previous games is a real shame.

A lot of the tactics for Halo multiplayer has changed because weapon spawns happen at random times. On the map there is no longer a need to control certain weapons and points to win. That strategy has been replaced with more of a focus on holding high ground and choke points where the opposing team feed you kills.

Firefight is no longer in the game replaced by the new co-op mode Spartan Ops. Spartan Ops are weekly 15-25 minute missions that add story to the Halo 4 fiction. These are fun, but way to easy and I feel that it isn’t s good replacement for Firefight or have nearly the same level of tension of trying to stay alive to top your previous high scores. Even though it isn’t a suitable replacement Spartan Ops is still fun and the side story 343 has created so far is pretty engaging.

Forge mode does return and it’s better then ever. Several additions have been made to make editing maps and aligning pieces super easy, but the lack of a tutorial is unjustifiable. Forge has a ton of stuff you need to learn to make an epic map and you really are just wondering in the dark if you haven’t used it in previous games. Eventually you will get the hang of it and can make epic maps, interesting game types, even art.

The theater mode is also still part of the game; no major changes have been added or taken away since Reach. I still wish you could watch with friends in the party, like Halo 3, as reliving some of your epic moments is always better with friends.

Halo 4 is a superb game and 343 Industries should be very proud that this game can stand right next to Bungie’s Halo games. Some changes have improved the game, which some were a miss and it’s a shame that the campaign is super short and I miss Firefight; however, once you overlook these complaints, Halo 4 is a great game and an fantastic start to a new trilogy.

Final Score: 9.0/10

Written by: Nick McCandless

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