It’s four years after the Halo event, and everyone’s a Master Chief
First-person shooters don’t get any better than Halo 4. Of course, that’s what many thought about the previous Halo:Reach. Halo 4, however, combines stunning graphics, thrilling gameplay, and thoughtful dialogue and acting that trumps the sometimes corny acting in Halo:Reach. The Halo series has been around for over a decade and it seems as the makers realize that fans also have gotten older. There’s a new maturity to Halo and an underlying theme is the almost tragic love story between Master Chief and omniscient gal computer Cortana. It’s a sci-fi soap opera, war story, and action tale in one—with plenty of Covenant slaying to go around.
Eye Candy Abounds
Halo 4 opens with very life-like graphics, and a clever introduction that tells the story of Halo for new players but also lets experienced players in on events that have taken place since the last Halo event, in Halo 3. Master Chief and Cortana have been adrift in space for four years and finally Cortana awakens Master Chief to investigate a disturbance on the Forward Unto Dawn spacecraft. That’s when all hell breaks loose.
I played Halo 4 in campaign mode on Xbox. I hate the cramped split screen that plagues most Xbox local, multi-player gaming, but about 10 minutes into playing, I hardly noticed the split screen—yes, the action is that good.
The first campaign is getting up to the spacecraft’s observation deck to investigate the disturbance and to kill Covenant members. This campaign threw me off a bit because there’s a scene where the Master Chief gets blown into a shaft and has to climb has way back onto solid ground. The screen changed from split screen to whole-screen first-person character. Only one of us could maneuver Master Chief although two of us were playing split screen mode up until this point. Once Master Chief makes the climb successfully (and kills an Elite), split-screen mode resumed.
In Halo 4, unlike Halo: Reach, everyone plays Master Chief. It’s a solo story and not a team mission as in Halo:Reach’s Noble Team, so there are a few scenes in campaign where only one controller can perform the action—at least that was my experience in local co-op mode.
The scenes are incredible. The level of detail is astounding, whether you are playing inside a hangar or some aircraft or out in the open. Driving a Warthog over rough terrain remains one of my favorite Halo activities. The music is also fantastic and adds to the experience.
Objectives and Gameplay
If you are expecting lots of new characters, vehicles and weapons, I haven’t seen much of that, and I’m several objectives into the game. In fact, some of the battles are pretty reminiscent of those in Halo:Reach. However, the gameplay remains as immersive and enjoyable as ever.
You can move through objectives pretty quickly as the action is non-stop and episodes aren’t that long to complete.
I also did not notice a lot of lag during play; the high-level of detail and textural scenery does not seem to sacrifice any performance, although I got more controller disconnected errors playing Halo 4 than I have experienced with other games.
Not Much That’s New, But So Good
Some may dismiss Halo 4 as the same old same old in the Halo franchise. While there is lots to Halo:4 that is familiar: weapons, battles, vehicles, etc., the level of detail in the game, plus a more mature and thoughtful storyline and dialogue makes Halo 4 the most adult Halo series ever. I like that, while others may not. Of course, there’s lots of action and lots of shooting too, always a win for an FPS. Halo 4 gets four and a half out of five stars, just missing the full five stars thanks to a slight retread feeling. Still Halo 4 is a solid Editors’ Choice, and I’m sure it’s going to be a big hit for the holiday season.
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|ESRB Rating||M for Mature|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc