Xbox 360 Game Review: Halo 4

By Vamien McKalin | Nov 17, 2012 09:24 AM EST

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Halo 4 is finally here, the first Halo game developed by 343 Industries since Bungie and Microsoft parted ways. Many fans were worried that 343 Industries was not up to the task in taking on this huge project; however, as of now, Halo is no longer a Bungie game because this new title is the best in the franchise.

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The Halo 4 story centers on the Master Chief and his trusty AI, Cortana who are tasked with the difficult job of taking down a new and dangerous threat to the human race and the whole universe. The game is an emotional rollercoaster for the Master Chief, as he is forced to watch Cortana slowly lose control. However, despite Cortana's many problems, the duo manage to adapt to the situation and continue on their journey for the sake of humanity.

What 343 Industries has created is not too different compared to other Halo games. However, it would have been preferable if the developer didn't play it safe and tried placing a huge mark on Halo 4 and the franchise on a whole.

Story

Halo 4 takes place four years after the events of Halo 3 in the year 2557. For the first time since 2007, the Master Chief is a playable character in a Halo game, which is refreshing and exciting for fans of the series.

Both Cortana and the Master Chief find themselves on a Forerunner planet called Requiem where they must confront the Didact, a powerful Forerunner. The Didact seeks the Composer to convert humans into AI so he could give power to Prometheans loyal to him. It's a grueling battle, both the Didact and the Master Chief are hell bent on finding and acquiring the Composer first, which is not an easy task.

If players watched the Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn web series, one of the new characters in Halo 4 would have been easily recognizable. This character is executive officer, Thomas Laskey, the leading man in the Halo 4 web series that has now ended.

Gameplay

Halo 4's gameplay isn't much different from previous Halo games, it just feels more solid and mature. All weapons in the game now have more oomph when they are fired, and weapons feel truly powerful when enemies are taking a beating. Enemies here are smart, squads will work together and adjust their tactics as players make way with their assault.

Many spaces are available for maneuver in Halo 4, which gives players enough room to take on a huge amount of enemy forces.

Going up against the Covenant should be a familiar affair, still difficult but if one is a long-time Halo player it should be a bit easier. However, things get out of control when Promethean enemies appear, these bad boys are tougher and more aggressive than the Covenant. Fighting these Promethean enemy is what makes Halo 4 singleplayer combat shine, it works and feels impressive like never before.

Those who prefer co-op over singleplayer will be all smiles since the whole campaign can be played with a friend. Makes taking on large amount of enemies easier; however, it does not take away the sense of difficulty.

Multiplayer

Halo 4's singleplayer has always been fun, but what truly makes a great Halo game is its online multiplayer. This time around, there is a greater diversity in competitive multiplayer combat, 343 Industries did a great job putting their mark on the title, which makes for the best Halo multiplayer ever. Halo 4 has plenty of content available and gamers will be so excited that they may not know where to begin.

First off, Halo 4 brings to the fore a new mode called Spartan Ops. What is it? Spartan Ops are free downloadable episodes that gamers are able to play online either by themselves, or with up to 3 other Spartans. 343 Industries plans an episode every week for 10 weeks, but the developer didn't mention if after 10 weeks gamers should expect more of these or it is the end.

Jumping into competitive multiplayer feels similar to other Halo games, but there are some changes as one would expect. War Games is back, the most popular multiplayer mode in Halo, along with the classic free-for-all and team deathmatch. Infection has been renamed the Flood, and gone are the days of going up against zombies for this time around, it's Flood-mutated humans with sword-like arms and Usain Bolt-like speeds, probably faster.

Weapons that fall on the battlefield are clearly marked, furthermore, Halo 4 has a similar system to Call of Duty. Players who are doing well in a match have the option to call in their own weapon drop while the match progresses. Don't get it twisted, it may be similar to Call of Duty's care package, but it feels nothing like it.

Conclusion

Halo 4 is arguably the best game in the franchise. 343 Industries has taken Bungie's baby ad made it theirs and that can only mean good things for future installments in the new trilogy. From the Master Chief and Cortana's emotional relationship, to the impressive competitive multiplayer, Halo 4 could end up grabbing the game of the year awards for 2012.

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