Fans of the “Halo” series couldn’t help but be concerned about “Halo 4” before its release.
The third installment in the main series wrapped up the war with the Covenant, meaning that “Halo 4” features a new story, the first of a new trilogy of games. Additionally, the reigns were handed to new studio 343 Industries, a studio created to take over the “Halo” franchise after original creator Bungie separated from Microsoft to become an independent company.
But the game’s Nov. 6 launch showed that fans had little to worry about. From a technical perspective, “Halo 4” is phenomenal, with gorgeous graphics depicting areas that still retain the feel of the “Halo” universe. Other aspects of the game are more debatable, without clear-cut negatives or positives.
The story centers around Cortana, protagonist Master Chief’s AI companion, as she is beginning to fall into a sort of AI dementia. This plot device is used to develop both Cortana and Master Chief, giving them more depth than stories in the previous “Halo” games. The action is still the main focus as Master Chief wakes up on a mysterious planet and fights a new alien race called the Prometheans, who are smarter than earlier “Halo” game enemies.
Overall, the campaign plays similarly to those in previous “Halo” games, allowing players to play through it alone or with one friend through split screen, or up to three through Xbox Live.
The only real issue of the campaign is that it really isn’t all that long, as it can be finished in about six to eight hours on normal difficulty. Of course, beating the game in harder difficulties provides a longer experience, and beating it on the Legendary difficulty gains the player a tiny bonus in the ending.
A way in which 343 is trying to make up for the short story is the new Spartan Ops mode, which will feature 10 episodic side missions with one being released every week.
These missions are free to Xbox Live Gold Subscribers, which presumably includes the majority of “Halo” players, as multiplayer is one of “Halo”’s biggest aspects. The Spartan Ops missions can be played cooperatively in the same way as campaign mode.
Online multiplayer has always been “Halo”’s strong point, providing replay value and creating an online community of dedicated players. “Halo 4”’s multiplayer includes some changes, but keeps the addictive feel of the series’ previous installments.
As a whole, “Halo 4” is a worthy successor to the previous “Halo” games. It retains the feel of the series while featuring stunning graphics and new game aspects that expand gameplay. The multiplayer has just as much replay value as ever, and the new Spartan Ops mode will continue to keep the game fun into the future.
“Halo 4” is a must for fans of the series and first person shooters. It could also be a good starting point for newcomers, as it begins a new trilogy of “Halo” games that is sure to continue on into the next console cycle.