To say 343 Industries had big boots to fill when they took over the Halo franchise would be a massive understatement. Bungie gave us one of the most epic game series ever created. The Halo games are some of the most critically acclaimed games of this generation.
Halo 3 got a metacritic score of 94/100
Halo 3: ODST got a metacritic score of 83/100
Halo: Reach got a metacritic score of 91/100
As such 343 Industries had a big name to live up to when it came to making the latest in the series Halo 4. I believe they have done the game proud. 343 Industries were very modest when it came to creating this latest epic, they never over promised and they never tried to upstage Bungie and the games prequels. What they instead have done is make a game which very cleverly carries on the series and tries to make as best a sequel as possible for the fans keeping the original story timeline going.
The game takes place four years after the events of Halo 3 and carries on the story as such. I will try to avoid any spoilers as much as possible for those who have yet to play the campaign. The Forerunners have returned and as usual it is Master Chiefs job to clean up the mess and save Earth (A usual day in his life it seems) This is suggested in the television advertisements which have been getting everyone hyped for the game with the catch line ‘An ancient evil awakens’ These advertisements were the first time I was really excited about the game being released as I realised it was so close. I got shivers when I saw the trailer on television and immediately pre ordered the game when the trailer had finished. I had watched the press release at E3 2012 where it was first announced and my curiosity was spiked, but I was skeptical at the idea of someone other than Bungie making my precious Halo. Let me just say that this skepticism is well and truly gone now after playing the game for myself.
The campaign feels fresh and new, you can instantly tell it is a Halo game by seeing the Assault Rifle in your hand but it felt as if it was a brand new game. The addition of Forerunner guns is incredible, they are extremely fun to use and just as deadly. The animation and graphics for these new guns is to put it bluntly fricking awesome, all the new guns have a unique animation for when equipping and reloading them. Mentioning the graphics, the whole game looks beautiful, the environments, character models and cut scenes everything. It shows the time and effort put in by 343 Industries to make the game another solid blockbuster. For example, one of the first cut scenes starts by focusing on Professor Hallsy’s face and I honestly believed I was watching a live action video such as those featured in Forward Unto Dawn episodes, which if you haven’t already seen I highly recommend watching, they are awesome.
I have one qualm with the game’s campaign and that is concerning the story telling. They have done it well in some aspects but in others just haven’t bothered explaining things properly just leaving me thinking ‘what?’ Don’t get me wrong they have done a good job of continuing the series story but have left out crucial elements that fans would easily pick up on. The covenants are suddenly the enemies again? what? There is no real explanation as to why, just a line from Cortana – ‘A lot can change in four years’ I had just hoped for a bit of an explanation, maybe in a cut scene or in the dialogue but alas no.
As usual the game contains a Multiplayer online mode. For many fans this is their sole reason for buying the game to experience the spectacle of online battles against other players. Once again Halo 4 doesn’t disappoint. The online lives up to the names of the other games such as Halo 3 and Halo: Reach. It gives the players a vast array of customisation options in terms of appearance and fighting style. An amazing new feature is that of customisable load outs which those of you who play Call of Duty will be all too familiar with. This brings an extra element of customisation to the players allowing them to pick what weapons and abilities they want, changing the way in which they play the game. I think this is an amazing addition as I can play exactly how I want and quickly change load out whenever I feel like it.
For those of you who enjoyed Firefight mode in the previous games unfortunately this mode is not available in Halo 4. However, there is a new game mode called Spartan Ops which can be played both single player and Multiplayer. Spartan Ops allows you to complete missions and objectives in different chapters. These missions will offer you experience points just like if you were playing online which gives you a different way in which to progress through levels if online isn’t your cup of tea.
All in all I think the new game is incredible, it captures the essence of the Halo franchise and does it justice. The game is well worth the buy and will offer you hours of enjoyment no matter how you choose to play it. Christmas is near, so it may be a good idea to stick this on your Christmas list now, Enjoy!