Console: Xbox 360
Reviewer: Richard

Pros

* Graphically speaking, it’s amazing
* Master Chief returns

Cons

* Multiplayer seems a little too much like Call of Duty
* It feels like there have been too many dramatic changes.
* Single player is way too short.

Whether it’s for the epic story or for the engaging multiplayer (or both), Halo has brought many a fond memory for many people, myself included. When Bungie announced that after Halo: Reach, they would be handing the reins over to 343 Studios, I was very apprehensive. I felt somewhat better after seeing a few of the many trailers, but does the start of this new trilogy live up to the groundbreaking work that Bungie started?

Presentation : A

This is probably an over used phrase by now, but really this is some of the best graphics that I’ve seen on the 360. Even the foliage doesn’t look too bad. The facial expressions during the cinematic’s are what impressed me the most. I thought Assassins Creed III did a good job, but 343 seemed to have gone even further. Though the redesigns of the Covenant were also slightly disappointing. As Master Chief put it, “they seem more feral.” I’ve also noticed that they no longer thrown in bits of English into their language anymore. I do miss the random grunts screaming “Help meeee!” as they run away from you.

The sounds have definitely changed though. There are only a handful of effects that I’ve noticed that were carried over. Everything else sounds noticeably different from the grenades to the warthog to the ever beloved shotgun. Even the soundtrack is different. There are times where I wonder if I’m listening to music from Halo or Tron which between that and the effects can be a bit distracting at times.

Single Player : B-

So, let me just get this out of the way: it’s short. Too short. I was able to beat Normal mode within 6 hours. And that’s including multiple breaks in between chapters. Yes, I know there is the more difficult modes. But, if I recall correctly it took me at least 8 or 9 hours to beat every other Halo game.

As short as it was, I did enjoy it. Seeing Master Chief back in action is always awesome and being able to play as him after 5 years even more so. although it is sad to see that he and Cortana are the only returning characters (not counting Halsey in the prologue), they do include Commander Laskey who we see in the web series “Forward Unto Dawn” as well as other new and interesting characters that we will hopefully see more of in the future. And the story was as epic as it ever was. I can say that if you are a fan of the series and especially if you’ve been a fan since it’s days on the original Xbox, this game will likely be one of your favorites in the series.

I did find the Forerunner aspect to the game a bit odd as I was under the impression that they were all dead. I also kept wondering why I was still fighting the Covenant, but one could argue that it would be hard to maintain a truce between them and Earth after killing each other for so many years. Still, I felt that there were too many inconsistencies and unanswered questions throughout the game. I can only hope that they will cover them in Halo 5.

Multiplayer : B-

Whenever anyone asked me about the Halo 4 multiplayer this past week, my typical response was, “You mean Call of Duty: Halo?” Perhaps not a fair assessment and I realize that Call of Duty, Halo and other franchises have “borrowed” ideas from each other before, but this seemed a bit too blatant. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I have a problem its multiplayer, but if I wanted to play COD, then I would play COD. But, I suppose if the franchise is to survive it must keep up with the times. And, as much as I hate to admit it, the loadouts are nice. I do like the idea of being able spawn in with Battle Rifle, Suppressor and Plasma grenade. Also, the point system is much more fair as it takes into account things like double kills, come back kills, and assists. I always felt that for a franchise like Halo to survive, it constantly needs to be at the forefront of innovation for video games instead of reacting and copying it. Maybe I just set too high a standard for the franchise or maybe we have gone as far as we can with FPS game play innovation. Either way, I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed.

My ranting aside, multiplayer is as fun as always has been and features a variety of game types that one would expect. Team Slayer, COF, Oddball and the like are back and play the same as they have before. Slayer has taken a slight twist, however, and is now known as “Regicide”. Basically, it plays like Slayer but the person in the lead is dubbed “The King”. His or her location is always shown and players gain extra points for killing the King. It’s a nice way to spice things up for a game type that’s been done over and over again. The only thing I can ask for is some SWAT.

Another new feature is Spartan Ops. It’s a series of story based episodes that takes place after the main story. You play as an unnamed spartan going on missions for the crew of the Infinity.  While I do miss firefight from the previous games, I do like the fact that we get to continue the story of the crew of the Infinity and see more of Requiem.  While it can be done by yourself, it definitely feels like it was set up for joining up with friends to take on the various challenges.

Replay Value : B+

Between map packs and episode content of Spartan Ops, there should be much to look forward to until the next installment. Though, honestly, I felt the same way about Reach and I was pretty much done playing it after a few months. That’s still pretty good compared to other games that I play, but do I foresee people a few years from now saying, “Hey, I know Halo 10 is out but want to go back and play Halo 4?” I doubt it.

Overall : B+

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