Like a space capsule experiencing re-entry, the long wait for the next big entrance in the esteemed Halo franchise has burned off to reveal, if anything, that new studio 343 Industries has the chops to deliver a compelling shooter experience that former developer Bungie could be proud. Halo 4 returns Master Chief to alien environs where he is hopelessly outnumbered, outgunned, but not outclassed. This fourth installment brings various new game modes including an expanded and episodic series of co-op missions, new weapons, vehicles and abilities. But is the game good? Let’s see what our panel of digital judges has to say.
Pretty much since their Phoenix-like revival from the ashes of printed media, EGM has pulled few punches. Their assessment of Microsoft’s latest excuse to deploy the Master [Chief] cuts deep. ” These low points are openly exacerbated by the series’ staunch refusal to get with the times when it comes to game mechanics and level design, ignoring obvious enhancements like big-ticket sequences and proper iron-sights mechanics in favor of their age-old addiction to slow, methodical combat in unnecessarily large environments.” They back this claim by highlighting, “but when stacked up to Dishonored, Far Cry 3, andBlack Ops II, Halo 4’s campaign feels as empty and uninspired as its strong, silent protagonist.
GB generally enjoyed their jaunt with Master Chief, but more for the high quality visuals and commendable presentation than the gameplay. They note, “Visually, Halo 4 has some terrific moments that really stand out, but it also holds up well on the technical end with a good frame rate, great lighting, and, for the most part, sharp texture quality. Again, these things help to make Halo 4 look and feel different from its predecessors, probably more than the gameplay does.”
The folks at the mighty IGN, had a mighty good time with this latest stab at Halo. With very little to say against the new gaming giant, IGN strokes the back of Halo 4 multiplayer stating, ” Halo has evolved, wrapping its multiplayer in an unexpected narrative context – the Spartan-on-Spartan battles are presented as training sessions aboard the UNSC Infinity ship – complete with more of the same visually arresting introductory cutscenes for both the adversarial War Games and the new Spartan Ops co-op mode.
These folks recognized the massive challenge, akin to ice skating uphill, that 343 Industries faced when tackling this game development endeavor. The original Halo single-handedly suspended the popular disbelief that first-person shooters could find a welcomed home on a console and its controllers. They are keen to point out the shortcomings of the story. Yet in their opinion, those shortcomings are adequately compensated by the flood of additional content to be played once the lackluster single player campaign has been completed. ” It’s going to feel a little off with a new studio taking over the franchise, and Bungie left a big mark on gaming with Halo. While 343i shouldn’t just try to make a Bungie game, the single player isn’t up to the series’ standard. Halo 4 does balance that with a robust amount of content across the various gameplay modes” They finish with, “The continuation of Master Chief’s story feels a little thin, but War Games, Spartan Ops and all the other multiplayer offerings Halo 4 will keep you playing for months to come.”
Despite the plethora of high scores, I’m left unconvinced this is the Halo you are looking for. The few grievances are significant, most notably those so eloquently noted by EGM above. The seeming lack of innovation is concerning. Still, I thank the sites quoted here. Only a definitive GR review will assuage my curiosity. One thing is certain: 343 Industries has handled the job at least well enough for Microsoft to toss more millions their way to refine their craft for the inevitable sequels to come.
Microsoft’s Halo 4 is available now for Xbox 360 at Amazon.com for $59.00!