Dammit, Just Play This! - Halo 4

Posted by feralwolf13 (10 posts) -

Hello fellow Giant Bomb fans.

I have been a huge fan of this site for quite some time, but I have sadly not become to integrated into the community (through all faults of my own). I love what the Giant Bomb team has done to foster discussion and intelligent analysis of this awesome medium. I have been trying to do some of my own writing that kind of combines design discussion, personal experience, and review lingo into a single thing. I like to call it "Dammit, Just Play This!" Here is the most recent one; I hope you all enjoy and please leave a comment if like/dislike/agree/want to tear down piece by piece.

Small edit: If you enjoy any of the analysis/discussion of this article, please visit my personal blog Broken Ideasfor more DJPT! entries and some other random writings. Thanks for reading!

There are very few times when I get to renege on a long held belief; something deeply rooted that for some reason I eventually came to see as completely inane. It took a full night of research, about five hours of YouTube videos, and sixteen hours (and counting) of audiobooks. What revelation did I come to?

I like Halo.

Furthermore, I respect Halo.

A new world and a new Chief

I respect what that universe has become, what their writers have done, the complex issues that are dealt with in the way genre fiction only can. Difficult social, ethical, and philosophical ideas are easier to express when it is warring factions within the Covenant rather than a real world analogue. Writers explore a gray area of moral space by obfuscating an actual event with massive plasma infused explosions, loads of bullets, and delusions of grandeur. Avatar immediately springs to mind; ironically tying back into Bungie and 343 Industries’ sci-fi menagerie due to some supposed artistic thievery, which then Ouroboros-style loops into earlier instances of plagiarism.

Pulling it back on topic, being able to evoke some emotionally affecting connections to our society through the vector of the imaginary is not impossible or even completely novel anymore. Modern fantasy and sci-fi needs to have this kind of engagement to keep it from being seen as complete schlock, or unintentional schlock. So, imagine my shock (rhyme and alliteration, my oldest friends.) when I played through Halo 4 and became immersed in the overarching narrative of humanity versus threats new and old, and the more personal story of two severely broken beings coming to terms with change.

What bothers me about Halo is not (wholly) the content of their narrative, but how they actively hold back salient information that enhances the player’s enjoyment. In Halo 4, two characters are introduced that set in motion a couple of the foundational events for the universe, at least for the humans. The Didact and the Librarian, both part of the newly expounded upon Forerunner race, are introduced as the main villain and Oracle-esque figures respectively. But, they come almost out of nowhere and become personified as “The Evil One” and “Helpful yet Mysterious One.” To actually understand these characters as anything more than cardboard standees you actually need to do delve into some of the collectible information from the original trilogy and spend time reading Greg Bear’s prequel novels, Halo: Crytum and Primordium. Only after consuming this expanded universe material do the before mentioned characters become fully realized or even make much sense.

A Prime Evil that Lacks Some Explanation

As novels, Bear’s take on the Halo universe are exercises in world building, meaning there is quite a bit of exposition and glimpses of fleeting action. He has a knack for creating some tense sequences, but a lot of it is in service of more explanation. To his credit though, he is given the task of creating a genesis for the series, while still keeping in mind that there are going to be two other games set thousands of years ahead of his narrative; a precarious situation to say the least, especially dealing with one of the most popular franchises in recent history. So, Bear pulls off something interesting by creating new, albeit archetypal, characters which are simultaneously thrust forward yet sidelined within the game’s narrative. It’s a shame, but sadly common within this series.

Bungie relegated two of its most interesting stories, the tribulations of a scattered ODST team and the doomed fate of Noble Team on Reach, were regulated to a side story and novel/eventual game adaptation. These two arcs fill in some important holes within the main series, like who the hell Cortana is and why there was a freaking SPACETIME HOLE THAT RIPS A CITY APART! (Actually, the main hinge of ODST’s story is the introduction of an information giver that sets in motion the events of Halo 3, but the fates of New Mumbasa and The Superintendent are extremely interesting). Of course, it would be difficult to fit these stories into the main series, but their downplayed importance hurts the overall story. 343 Industries follows in their narrative missteps, but make up for it with possibly one of the ballsiest moves of the series.

It was not Bungie’s best work, but they nailed a unique aesthetic

I imagine when the metaphorical keys were handed from Bungie to 343; there were probably some words of wisdom exchanged concerning the massive Fabergé egg at stake. My guess is the last bit went something like “Whatever you do, don’t mess with Master Chief.” Not as a threat; more a warning. Longtime fans of the series have a certain affinity for the hulking green giant and the little blue woman in his head. They are two sides of the same coin; stoicism and sarcasm, brawn and brains, they make a fully rounded character. So what do the new curators of Halo do? They mess with Master Chief. More specifically, they create a reflexive narrative of anxiety and change mirrored within the player and their own development team, by attempting to change the most central of characters.

Trying to find evidence to whether the arcs for this new Halo trilogy started with Bungie or 343i can get quite difficult. What we do have is many interviews speaking to the pressure of making this new game, but also about how they wanted to have a more personal narrative that delves into the suit and pulls out the remnants of John-117. They start to break down the psyche of Master Chief, deliberately calling him a possible sociopath and questioning his heroic attitude. They try to muddle the sacrosanct relationship between Chief and Cortana, and push this one dimensional character into something more.

Alright, time for some close reading. Let’s use this English degree I so desperately worked to obtain, while steering around spoilers. In the most basic sense, the player shares in the Master Chief’s struggle to save the deteriorating/changing Cortana/franchise. The plot device of “rampancy,” an affliction that affects all AI’s in the Halo universe which causes them to “think” themselves to death, sets up danger and constancy of change. 343 stepped into this situation knowing they could not do the same thing, but drastically altering the design formula or tone would devastate the fan base. Throughout the games ten hour runtime, Cortana continues her downward spiral and Master Chief continues to profess that “I can fix this.” All he wants is to continue being a soldier, to continue with Cortana, to stay the same. 343i admits to aping the introduction of Halo: Combat Evolved in its most recent effort; a grand statement that everything is hunky dory, until they start letting their own art and creativity to bleed in; they let change happen. In the same way Cortana’s degradation is telegraphed, so are 343i’s design sensibilities. Cortana’s outbursts become more prevalent, which visually distorts the player’s UI and aurally alters the normally snarky female compatriot into a distorted mess. This graphical trick constantly reminds the player, on a basic level, that all is not well, instilling the motivation to set it right. New enemies with their own idiosyncratic tricks present interesting changes to Bungie’s traditional combat puzzles. Furthermore, the constant push for change plays into the underlying romantic arc of Chief and Cortana, that still builds this interesting meta-narrative. The climactic moment between Chief and Cortana has lines that sound like dialogue between the fans and writers. The desperation of trying to keep everything intact and the catharsis of finally letting go; 343i creates a narrative structure which aligns Chief’s desire for stasis with the player, while invoking the developers’ anxiety in semi-sacrificing the sacred cow. It allows all parties, in-game and out, to revel in disquiet; to stand at a precipice and feel change. In my mind, it is a brilliant discussion of the development process and fan expectation in this medium; all while being solid entertainment.

The most interesting part of Halo 4”s narrative, and for some incredible reasons

Almost 1400 words and I haven’t touched how the game plays or what most people play Halofor, the multiplayer. I am going to ape basically every reviewer who has touched this game; hey, do you like Halo? Then you are going to like this new one. There are subtle and not so subtle changes; there are influences of Call of Duty and Uncharted, there are new enemy types and new weapons to blow up basically everything. It feels fantastic and playing online is still a blast. Whatever graphical magickery they pulled did the trick. It looks leaps and bounds better than Halo: Reach and makes amazing use of facial scan technology and performance capture during cutscenes. A strong visual style compliments the nearly outstanding sound design. Guns sound enormous; when a rail gun shot connects with the target, the auditory and visual report signals to the player that “yo, what you just shot at is gone.” My only issue, and it can become quite annoying, is 343i seems to have adopted Bungie’s problematic mixing style. Sound effects and music can be a little too loud during in-mission briefings, and there is no audio setting to alter the mix. A frustrating but ultimately minor issue relative to what the game achieves.

Alright, so I think I have made my point for why people should play Halo 4; why it is a simultaneously glorious yet frustrating narrative experience. Will this universe be lifted up among the pantheon of the sci-fi genre? Probably not. But, 343i has created a supremely satisfying game that comments on the culture that it inhabits.

#1 Posted by feralwolf13 (10 posts) -

Hello fellow Giant Bomb fans.

I have been a huge fan of this site for quite some time, but I have sadly not become to integrated into the community (through all faults of my own). I love what the Giant Bomb team has done to foster discussion and intelligent analysis of this awesome medium. I have been trying to do some of my own writing that kind of combines design discussion, personal experience, and review lingo into a single thing. I like to call it "Dammit, Just Play This!" Here is the most recent one; I hope you all enjoy and please leave a comment if like/dislike/agree/want to tear down piece by piece.

Small edit: If you enjoy any of the analysis/discussion of this article, please visit my personal blog Broken Ideasfor more DJPT! entries and some other random writings. Thanks for reading!

There are very few times when I get to renege on a long held belief; something deeply rooted that for some reason I eventually came to see as completely inane. It took a full night of research, about five hours of YouTube videos, and sixteen hours (and counting) of audiobooks. What revelation did I come to?

I like Halo.

Furthermore, I respect Halo.

A new world and a new Chief

I respect what that universe has become, what their writers have done, the complex issues that are dealt with in the way genre fiction only can. Difficult social, ethical, and philosophical ideas are easier to express when it is warring factions within the Covenant rather than a real world analogue. Writers explore a gray area of moral space by obfuscating an actual event with massive plasma infused explosions, loads of bullets, and delusions of grandeur. Avatar immediately springs to mind; ironically tying back into Bungie and 343 Industries’ sci-fi menagerie due to some supposed artistic thievery, which then Ouroboros-style loops into earlier instances of plagiarism.

Pulling it back on topic, being able to evoke some emotionally affecting connections to our society through the vector of the imaginary is not impossible or even completely novel anymore. Modern fantasy and sci-fi needs to have this kind of engagement to keep it from being seen as complete schlock, or unintentional schlock. So, imagine my shock (rhyme and alliteration, my oldest friends.) when I played through Halo 4 and became immersed in the overarching narrative of humanity versus threats new and old, and the more personal story of two severely broken beings coming to terms with change.

What bothers me about Halo is not (wholly) the content of their narrative, but how they actively hold back salient information that enhances the player’s enjoyment. In Halo 4, two characters are introduced that set in motion a couple of the foundational events for the universe, at least for the humans. The Didact and the Librarian, both part of the newly expounded upon Forerunner race, are introduced as the main villain and Oracle-esque figures respectively. But, they come almost out of nowhere and become personified as “The Evil One” and “Helpful yet Mysterious One.” To actually understand these characters as anything more than cardboard standees you actually need to do delve into some of the collectible information from the original trilogy and spend time reading Greg Bear’s prequel novels, Halo: Crytum and Primordium. Only after consuming this expanded universe material do the before mentioned characters become fully realized or even make much sense.

A Prime Evil that Lacks Some Explanation

As novels, Bear’s take on the Halo universe are exercises in world building, meaning there is quite a bit of exposition and glimpses of fleeting action. He has a knack for creating some tense sequences, but a lot of it is in service of more explanation. To his credit though, he is given the task of creating a genesis for the series, while still keeping in mind that there are going to be two other games set thousands of years ahead of his narrative; a precarious situation to say the least, especially dealing with one of the most popular franchises in recent history. So, Bear pulls off something interesting by creating new, albeit archetypal, characters which are simultaneously thrust forward yet sidelined within the game’s narrative. It’s a shame, but sadly common within this series.

Bungie relegated two of its most interesting stories, the tribulations of a scattered ODST team and the doomed fate of Noble Team on Reach, were regulated to a side story and novel/eventual game adaptation. These two arcs fill in some important holes within the main series, like who the hell Cortana is and why there was a freaking SPACETIME HOLE THAT RIPS A CITY APART! (Actually, the main hinge of ODST’s story is the introduction of an information giver that sets in motion the events of Halo 3, but the fates of New Mumbasa and The Superintendent are extremely interesting). Of course, it would be difficult to fit these stories into the main series, but their downplayed importance hurts the overall story. 343 Industries follows in their narrative missteps, but make up for it with possibly one of the ballsiest moves of the series.

It was not Bungie’s best work, but they nailed a unique aesthetic

I imagine when the metaphorical keys were handed from Bungie to 343; there were probably some words of wisdom exchanged concerning the massive Fabergé egg at stake. My guess is the last bit went something like “Whatever you do, don’t mess with Master Chief.” Not as a threat; more a warning. Longtime fans of the series have a certain affinity for the hulking green giant and the little blue woman in his head. They are two sides of the same coin; stoicism and sarcasm, brawn and brains, they make a fully rounded character. So what do the new curators of Halo do? They mess with Master Chief. More specifically, they create a reflexive narrative of anxiety and change mirrored within the player and their own development team, by attempting to change the most central of characters.

Trying to find evidence to whether the arcs for this new Halo trilogy started with Bungie or 343i can get quite difficult. What we do have is many interviews speaking to the pressure of making this new game, but also about how they wanted to have a more personal narrative that delves into the suit and pulls out the remnants of John-117. They start to break down the psyche of Master Chief, deliberately calling him a possible sociopath and questioning his heroic attitude. They try to muddle the sacrosanct relationship between Chief and Cortana, and push this one dimensional character into something more.

Alright, time for some close reading. Let’s use this English degree I so desperately worked to obtain, while steering around spoilers. In the most basic sense, the player shares in the Master Chief’s struggle to save the deteriorating/changing Cortana/franchise. The plot device of “rampancy,” an affliction that affects all AI’s in the Halo universe which causes them to “think” themselves to death, sets up danger and constancy of change. 343 stepped into this situation knowing they could not do the same thing, but drastically altering the design formula or tone would devastate the fan base. Throughout the games ten hour runtime, Cortana continues her downward spiral and Master Chief continues to profess that “I can fix this.” All he wants is to continue being a soldier, to continue with Cortana, to stay the same. 343i admits to aping the introduction of Halo: Combat Evolved in its most recent effort; a grand statement that everything is hunky dory, until they start letting their own art and creativity to bleed in; they let change happen. In the same way Cortana’s degradation is telegraphed, so are 343i’s design sensibilities. Cortana’s outbursts become more prevalent, which visually distorts the player’s UI and aurally alters the normally snarky female compatriot into a distorted mess. This graphical trick constantly reminds the player, on a basic level, that all is not well, instilling the motivation to set it right. New enemies with their own idiosyncratic tricks present interesting changes to Bungie’s traditional combat puzzles. Furthermore, the constant push for change plays into the underlying romantic arc of Chief and Cortana, that still builds this interesting meta-narrative. The climactic moment between Chief and Cortana has lines that sound like dialogue between the fans and writers. The desperation of trying to keep everything intact and the catharsis of finally letting go; 343i creates a narrative structure which aligns Chief’s desire for stasis with the player, while invoking the developers’ anxiety in semi-sacrificing the sacred cow. It allows all parties, in-game and out, to revel in disquiet; to stand at a precipice and feel change. In my mind, it is a brilliant discussion of the development process and fan expectation in this medium; all while being solid entertainment.

The most interesting part of Halo 4”s narrative, and for some incredible reasons

Almost 1400 words and I haven’t touched how the game plays or what most people play Halofor, the multiplayer. I am going to ape basically every reviewer who has touched this game; hey, do you like Halo? Then you are going to like this new one. There are subtle and not so subtle changes; there are influences of Call of Duty and Uncharted, there are new enemy types and new weapons to blow up basically everything. It feels fantastic and playing online is still a blast. Whatever graphical magickery they pulled did the trick. It looks leaps and bounds better than Halo: Reach and makes amazing use of facial scan technology and performance capture during cutscenes. A strong visual style compliments the nearly outstanding sound design. Guns sound enormous; when a rail gun shot connects with the target, the auditory and visual report signals to the player that “yo, what you just shot at is gone.” My only issue, and it can become quite annoying, is 343i seems to have adopted Bungie’s problematic mixing style. Sound effects and music can be a little too loud during in-mission briefings, and there is no audio setting to alter the mix. A frustrating but ultimately minor issue relative to what the game achieves.

Alright, so I think I have made my point for why people should play Halo 4; why it is a simultaneously glorious yet frustrating narrative experience. Will this universe be lifted up among the pantheon of the sci-fi genre? Probably not. But, 343i has created a supremely satisfying game that comments on the culture that it inhabits.

#2 Posted by ChinaDontCare (111 posts) -

I played too much Reach (530+Hrs), played some Halo 4 and im just burned out on Halo. Still love it but.....

#3 Posted by big_jon (5727 posts) -

Really nice read.

Halo 4 was a solid game, but the campaign left something to be desired, still amazing for a new studio's first work.

#4 Posted by Zippedbinders (996 posts) -

I just skimmed this for now, unfortunately I'm too tired to read all of this right now, but I'll go over it in the morning. I already like what I'm seeing though.

#5 Posted by mlarrabee (2951 posts) -

I tried Halo 4. I'll admit I was skeptical going into it, but I was willing to be open-minded about where 343 wanted to take the story. And I enjoyed it until chapter 3. I still like fighting the Covenant. Elites and Grunts are still great fun. I recently played through Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and loved every minute. I would have liked to rent a Halo 4 in which I fought the Covenant. But I find the Prometheans boring, even dissatisfying, to fight.

I like how Bungie always hinted at the huge backstory and occasionally let you peek at it through terminals, and watching 343 pull the curtains down more and more is interesting. I wish they had couched those revelations in something I could stand to play.

#6 Posted by feralwolf13 (10 posts) -

I understand getting burned out on the Halo formula. The last game of this style that I played was Reach, but only the single player. So, I was ready for more of this type of game.

As for the Prometheans, I actually found then quite interesting. They force a strict hierarchy when you fight them that at first seems illogical, but completely makes sense after a while. They can generate a fair bit of tension in a fight because of the teleporting/shield regeneration dudes/wall climbing cat things. The story of who the Promethean's are is also really interesting from a lore perspective.

#7 Posted by believer258 (11905 posts) -

It was a good game, it just wasn't anywhere near as good as the Bungie Halo games.

#8 Posted by zyn (2591 posts) -

But, I don't like Halo 4...

#9 Posted by Veektarius (4832 posts) -

Promethean knights just took a few too many bullets to bring down, especially if you tried to use the long range rifles to kill them. It seemed like things like the suppressor were actually very effective at close range, but then you subject yourself to their close range attacks. I felt like the problem with the Prometheans was the lack of an intermediate class of fighter who keeps you paying attention but doesn't frustrate you. While the Knights weren't as tough as Hunters, it's the same sort of deal where you wouldn't want to face more than a few hunters in a level because of how little payoff you get for all your gunfire.

As for the story, well, I've always thought Halo's story was underrated. Personally, I think a few more lines of dialogue should have gone in there for the Didact. A little incredulity from the chief when he finds out humanity's origin, just a couple more minutes of cutscene? I understood what was going on, but that would have made me feel more comfortable.

#10 Posted by Kermity (75 posts) -

Wow, that was a great analysis, thanks for sharing! Loved the parallels you drew of us fans not wanting 343 to 'change' too much of the Franchise alongside of the Chief's narrative and struggling to deal with the change forced upon him.

#11 Posted by wewantsthering (1567 posts) -

I own it, but find it slightly dull.

#12 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4351 posts) -

@big_jon said:

Really nice read.

Halo 4 was a solid game, but the campaign left something to be desired, still amazing for a new studio's first work.

This. Solid campaign that played things a bit too safe and a narrative that started to fall flat for me when Chief teleported from Requiem to a station with another Halo orbiting nearby. What a fucking waste of a new, intriguing new planet/environment.

#13 Posted by Nasos100 (727 posts) -

no

#14 Posted by Marcsman (3196 posts) -

@Nasos100 said:

no

I concur

#15 Posted by feralwolf13 (10 posts) -

@Veektarius: The Knights took a lot of firepower to take down. I got into the rhythm of using the Suppressor to take down shields then popping them once or twice with the Lightrifle. Once the Covenant weapons got introduced into the Promethean combat puzzle, a good Needler supercombine with a rifle follow up usually did the trick. It didn't bother me a whole bunch, but I was only playing on Heroic. They felt as bullet spongy as Elites, but maybe that is just my perception. I haven't tried Legendary yet, so that kind of scares me.

As for the title of my blog post, yeah it is a bit presumptuous and forceful. I just wanted something that abbreviated decently and was simple, but your jokes still stand. Thanks for keeping me humble lol.

As a broad question to all who played it and found the campaign boring, what design change would make the game interesting? Was a level design fault or should 343i done something drastic to change up flow of the game?

#16 Posted by Tarsier (1064 posts) -

halo campaigns are always terrible. cortanas character is lame and her relationship with chief is creepy and awkward.

thats the perfect word for it.. awkward. halo has been, since 2, an awkward romp through sci fi action movie cliches. i have actually found myself getting embarrassed for the game. luckily in halo 4 i was embarrassed as much as i was in awe at the amazing design of the environments..

i will say though, all that aside, halo multiplayer is still the best around. i would still like to see it go the battlefield route though. a mixture between the pro balance of halo close quarters combat with epic sprawling landscapes to fight across, 12 vs 12 dominion battles.. with loadout abilities that add to the team aspect of gameplay.. that would be great.

lets just have that, and remove the campaign, because we all know where its going and its just pointless. we dont need to go there.

#17 Posted by wemibelec90 (1663 posts) -

@feralwolf13 said:

...the multiplayer. I am going to ape basically every reviewer who has touched this game; hey, do you like Halo? Then you are going to like this new one.

I don't really agree with this statement, no matter how many times I hear it. There are several changes, both subtle and significant, that make Halo 4 a VERY different game from past games in the series. It's not a guarantee that the multiplayer will satisfy that itch, especially if you are a little pickier about your multiplayer.

#18 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4351 posts) -

@feralwolf13 said:

As a broad question to all who played it and found the campaign boring, what design change would make the game interesting? Was a level design fault or should 343i done something drastic to change up flow of the game?

It felt like another Halo campaign for better or for worse, it even had yet another tank mission. The opening was great though, it created a great sense of mystery. My problems are mostly with the narrative side of things than the campaign playing it too safe but I'll give them a pass because it's not surprising that a new studio would do just that, but they've used up that pass and hopefully won't pull the same shit again with 5. I can't tell you how they should shake it up and make it different otherwise I would be employed making games, not buying and playing them.

#19 Edited by big_jon (5727 posts) -

@Colourful_Hippie said:

@big_jon said:

Really nice read.

Halo 4 was a solid game, but the campaign left something to be desired, still amazing for a new studio's first work.

This. Solid campaign that played things a bit too safe and a narrative that started to fall flat for me when Chief teleported from Requiem to a station with another Halo orbiting nearby. What a fucking waste of a new, intriguing new planet/environment.

It is more than just playing it safe, it is the way they handled the Didact, more than just the lack of exposition, the over scaling of the universe things like now there are hundreds of Spartans, it felt cheap. A lot of it just lacked a soul to me. Also a lot of the combat was dull because of the scenarios they threw at you like I am on a gondola fighting enemies that barely move or react when I shoot them, and it takes too long, the Prometheans were meh, there was a lack of immersion in a lot of the levels that I was hoping for.

Covenant were really the most fun part of the game, which I am not surprised about, those hoping for them to be removed are expecting something that will never happen, at least not any time soon.

The second level in the game is probably the best, the over use of the inside of grey Forerunner structures and grinding combat was one of the weakest parts of the game for me.

Also the only thing of any meaning that really happens in the story was

the rest was just a wash...

When I reach max rank, which is in another 14 levels I will be posting my in depth thoughts on the entirety of the game, so look for that in a month or so.

#20 Edited by feralwolf13 (10 posts) -

@Tarsier said:

lets just have [the multiplayer], and remove the campaign, because we all know where its going and its just pointless. we dont need to go there.

See, I disagree with this point. The end of Halo 4 throws a bunch of stuff up in the air, especially concerning where Master Chief's allegiances lie.

Take for instance:

The opening cinematic when Halsey is being interrogated. She is accused of making sociopathic killers rather than functional soldiers, which throws the character of Master Chief for a loop. I believe that Chief becomes way more interesting when unchained from authority. What happens if he starts questioning the authority of the UNSC? He already dismisses Captain Del Rio's orders when asked to handover/decomission Cortana. Conflating this idea leads to a bunch of new and interesting narrative avenues that discuss the nature of duty (forgive the pun) and what is right.

@wemibelec90 said:

@feralwolf13 said:

I don't really agree with this statement, no matter how many times I hear it. There are several changes, both subtle and significant, that make Halo 4 a VERY different game from past games in the series. It's not a guarantee that the multiplayer will satisfy that itch, especially if you are a little pickier about your multiplayer.

Yeah, I may have to renege on this position. From my viewpoint, it felt similar to what I played in Reach; but, I have not spent nearly enough time with either game to get a firm handle on what differentiates the two. Thanks for the criticism.

@big_jon said:

It is more than just playing it safe, it is the way they handled the Didact, more than just the lack of exposition, the over scaling of the universe things like now there are hundreds of Spartans, it felt cheap. A lot of it just lacked a soul to me. Also a lot of the combat was dull because of the scenarios they threw at you like I am on a gondola fighting enemies that barely move or react when I shoot them, and it takes too long, the Prometheans were meh, there was a lack of immersion in a lot of the levels that I was hoping for...

...When I reach max rank, which is in another 14 levels I will be posting my in depth thoughts on the entirety of the game, so look for that in a month or so.

Sorry for the liberal editing of your post, but I wanted to address these specific points. I agree with how they handled the Didact; again, they do flesh him out a lot in Greg Bear's Halo novels. However, I do disagree with your scaling of the universe point. In my mind

Having this new breed of Spartan opens up some new discussions of whether Chief is even necessary anymore. 343i could play into a lot of the tropes used in the Revisionist Western Genre (Unforgiven, The Proposition, and (in gaming) Red Dead Redemption. The discussion of wartime obsolescence has not been broached too often. The only game I can think of is Metal Gear Solid 4. I would love to see a game in the series deal with "Master Chief as relic of a time forgotten." It would mirror the narrative of the Didact and the Warrior class in Forerunner lore.

And, I an interested in seeing your breakdown of the game. I'll be looking out for your writings on it.

#21 Posted by Nhoj_Sllew (178 posts) -

good write-up!

you should center align the pics and their captions.

i'm replaying the campaign on legendary now and its still pretty fun

#22 Posted by feralwolf13 (10 posts) -

@Nhoj_Sllew: Thanks! I still have to get used to the ins and outs of this Parchment system. Hopefully my next blogs will be more visually appealing.

#23 Edited by Encephalon (1262 posts) -

Halo 4 was actually my first Halo game. I borrowed by brother's copy. After playing it to completion, I totally agree with all the praise Halo gets for its combat loop--shooting dudes is so much goddamn fun in Halo, and I didn't play any of the others so I didn't experience any Covenant fatigue.

As for the story stuff... look, it's cool that Halo occupies such an ambitious narrative space for you, but I can't at all say I agree with it. To me, it always seemed to be merely competent sci-fi bordering on science fantasy, and playing Halo 4 pretty much confirmed this. I literally threw my hands up at the story in disgust when the Forerunner lady tells the Chief that he's The Chosen One.

#24 Posted by Tarsier (1064 posts) -

i didnt get any of that. i was too distracted by the 'you are the one/pregenator race' bullshit, and cortanas over the top undeserved emotional horse manure that was spewing forth from her character from midpoint onwards, just like she did in halo 2 and 3.

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