Game Title: Halo 4
Platform: Xbox 360
Game Genre: Action/Science Fiction
Graphics Rating: 10/10
Audio Rating: 10/10
Storyline Rating: 10/10
Gameplay Rating: 10/10
Ending Rating: 8/10
This Game Delivered. I was skeptical... They promised 3, then as per the usual money scrappers in the game development society, attempted to over deliver. I was against another Halo just because it seems that any game that goes over 3 is ruined and becomes over done. On top of that, my beloved Bungie was not a part of the making of this game, which to me felt wrong, it kind of still does... But this game DELIVERED.
Video: Official Debut Trailer
For those who didn't play or see the ending to Halo 3, this is where this game pretty much takes off;
Video: Halo 3 Ending
You start out exactly where you left off in the Campaign of Halo 3, seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere. (For those who saw the extra ending, nowhere is right near a planet...) Cortana wakes you, the Master Chief, from stasis after about 4 years. Something is going on and the ship is suddenly at risk. The covenant are back, and they aren't friendly suddenly? I thought we had a truce at the end of 3?! WTF!!! As usual you fight through ANOTHER human ship, different to the rest that we have fought through so far. You find out that the covenant are deploying a full attack on your ship and your defenses are down. Eventually you fight to the surface of the ship and bring the defenses online. Suddenly, as if it were planned, the planet that you have been orbiting for 4 years without any trouble starts to pull everything in towards it. So it begins.
Gameplay / Storyline Aspects:
The Weapons have changed again! But this time not too much (at least not the human/covenant) The Main rifle is powerful but spends ammo very quickly, I personally much prefer to get in there and Melee the shit out of those grunts, which is fairly effective! While the battle rifle is still extremely powerful in the right hands. The fast paced battle style is quite fun, the AI seems to have been improved from previous games, not simply recycled.
The new Weapons and new Race, amazing. Although a little more difficult to face at times, they are fun to kill and watch explode. The fact that the little flying sentinels can 'resurrect' them if not taken care of adds another aspect to each fight. You MUST kill them first! Not only that, but they can protect their enemies with shields and even fire on you directly! Overpowered much? Add to that the waves and waves of dog-like glowy thingy ma bobs, and you got yourself a real fight boys!
The direction of the game feels slightly more open, but that is but a feeling. As with all past Halo games, you are clearly and cleverly guided to each new sector of the game, it is very hard to get lost for longer than 10 seconds. The old waypoint system is back to point you in the direction, but this time wont often kick in until reasonable (aka you visually see a target, and it will be marked, otherwise you are going in blind)
Extra gameplay elements really improved this game greatly. Halo 3 introduced extra upgrades you could carry one of such a portable shield or the likes. Again Halo 4 has gone a step above and made it even better including highly strategic holograms, temporary shield, jetpack etc etc. They really change the game in a firefight situation and improve on combat. They saved my ass a couple of different times alone. The fact that you can keep using them (with a fairly short cooldown) instead of single uses makes them even better!
In the Dishonored review I mentioned that skipping cut scenes wasn't easy, which was good because there is nothing more annoying than accidentally skipping a cut scene. In Halo 4 they have required 2 key presses in a row (A then Y I believe) to initiate a cut scene skip. If you don't hit Y fairly quickly, it will re-hide the option and you will need to press A again. This is great! Thanks 343!!!
Audio / Video / Graphics:
Halo 4 brings 1080P to a screen near you! The graphics are amazing. The very first cinematic (before you start playing) actually tricked me into thinking that some cinematics were going to be done with real life recordings. I was on TeamSpeak at the time, those witnesses will tell you that it did trick me!
Halo has always gone for fairly realistic graphics, but Halo 4 made even the grunts and Elites seem plausible. I was seriously taken back by how the new Covenant entities looked, they look extremely different to any of the other games, but in a good way. If you directly compare them, they are clearly less 'cartoon' and more real than ever before.
The terrain looks amazing, both the immediate and the background. Everything is crisp... Lighting, Liquids (Including blood ), particles... everything. Moving through the environment feels like you are there, it is extremely immersive even though you are on a distant planet. It gets the point across extremely well, you never forget that you are on a foreign planet.
The cinematic graphics are amazing as well, the facial structures are highly detailed and give you a sense of real emotion, something that Halo hasn't really delivered on in the past.
The audio enhancements in this game compared to any before it are amazing. It is much more crisp and fine tuned than ever before. The covenant no longer simply speak random exerts of English but now have their own crude dialect that is sometimes interesting to hear as their bodies hit the floor. The atmospheric noises are great, much like the graphics they make the gameplay more immersive and make you feel like you are there, especially on my 5.1 System.
Video: 15 Minutes of Game Play on the level 'Infinity'
Additional notes (WARNING: There is a spoiler here, be very careful if you don't want the game ending spoiled!!! - You were warned!):
The weak point of this game was the ending. Yes I know I said this about Dishonored but it seems that the creative teams behind todays games just cant get the ending. Admittedly the Halo 4 Ending was fairly good... Just in comparison to the rest of the aspects of this game, it was ... weak.
There was no final boss fight that really challenged the player, you simply had to do one of those button press events where it says on screen 'Pull Left Trigger to use sticky grenade' and you beat the game. The cinematic was, as the rest of the game, high quality and nice to watch. It was dramatic and had a big event feel to it like the other games. It felt like it generally ended on the right not (minus the lack of a blockbuster fight).
They did 2 things which annoyed me, one of them may be rectified knowing that they expect to make another 2 games (Halo 5 and 6) for the storyline.
The first is that they actually 'kill' Cortana.. You heard me... shes gone... Destroyed by a bug that affects AI's after 7 years (This being her 8th year of deployment with the Spartan 117). This is actually a core point of the story that is touched on very frequently throughout the game. Secondly they take his darn helmet off and blacken the screen (After the credits) WHY YOU TEASE US BUNGIE 343!!!!
In summary, I am a Halo fan. I was disappointed to hear that the original Trilogy was going to be drawn out for another 3 games. In fact usually I take them home and play on release day, this game took me a week to open because I was reluctant. On top off all that, like I mentioned at the start, the fact that they pulled Bungie from the dev team really upset me. But they pulled it off. If you own an XBox 360 and loved the Halo franchise, hated the Halo franchise or if you never played it, this game IS for you.
Its mixture of amazing and breathtaking graphics and audio, interesting and fun game play styles and techniques and all the added aspects that this game introduced to the franchise, really made it a AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA title. It is worth whatever price tag your local game store is asking, and we haven't even touched the Multi-Player
For those who want to watch it, I will leave you with the legendary ending cinematic. It contains spoilers, but will NOT ruin the game for you. Enjoy!
Video: Single Player Campaign Cinematic Ending
Video: Legendary Single Player Campaign Cinematic Ending (After Credits Roll)
Thank you for reading!
Please Note: The opinions in this article are those of the author and in no way directly reflect or represent the opinions of The Abyssal Gaming Network or any of its affiliates.