A constant that's surrounded Halo 4 since it's announcement as been the ever lingering question on if we actually need a new Halo trilogy. The much loved Xbox exclusive shooter as been well served by it's creators at Bungie, but with a new team in charge and the doubts that have surrounded the game, one must question if Halo 4 is simply a result of a console generation dragging on to long.
Say Halo to 343 Industries, the new daddies of the Halo franchise. We've known for a while that they were to replaced Bungie, a developer greatly acclaimed over the years, but do they really satisfy the demanding Halo fanbase with Halo 4? I'm happy to say they do indeed, but by only keeping to a very familiar format that's been seen in every Halo game since the original blew open the doors for first person shooters on consoles.
This is both a good and bad thing depending on your perspective, while a new Halo like Halo game is welcomed by fans of the series, it won't do a great deal to change the minds of those already bored by what's been offered before by Bungie. In fact it's almost as if 343 went out of there way to meet the demands of an already established base of fans, with messages thanking fans for their trust and in simply creating an Halo game that cannot at all be mistaken for anything but an Halo game. Not that this is such a bad thing.
Oh no, Halo 4 is in many ways the best Halo game yet. How you ask? Simple because 343 Industries have refined Halo is an almost perfect level. Combat feels outstanding and familiar in a comforting sort of way and graphical Halo as taken a much needed step forward. Halo 4 look and sounds outstanding, every shot fired from every weapon carries quite a punch and the spectacular set pieces stand out, forcing you to stop and take in the view. This isn't just the best looking Halo game to date, it's one of the best looking 360 games to date, clearly showing a mastery of a console coming to the end of it's life. Oh and have I mentioned the soundtrack, as someone who grew bored of the constant recycling of Martin O'Donnell's familiar Halo tunes, a refreshing take on how Halo should sound is welcoming, it is a new trilogy after all.
Campaign takes place after the events of Halo 3, thankfully if you somehow missed those events it matters little. While some characters and back story adds value to the story, this is in many ways a typical Halo campaign, except for one thing, emotion. It's somewhat of a let down than that the rather touching tale told between the Master Chief and Cortana is let down by some spotty dialogue that might as well have come from a Michael Bay flick. That said, it doesn't damage some of the touching moments in the story, with Steve Downes and Jen Taylor providing some of the performances of the year when it comes to voice work.
When compared to past Halo campaigns, it's certainly not the best, but thanks to the refined combat and overall presentation, it's one of the more enjoyable. Of course Halo wouldn't be Halo without some multiplayer and in the new 'Infinity' mode you'll find all the usual multiplayer options and more. Traditional multiplayer is to be found, with some interesting changes having been made, the inclusion of load outs similar to the likes of pretty much every modern multiplayer shooter out these days and than there's Spec Ops.
Spec Ops is a new multiplayer mode which you play co-op with fellow Spartans in ten short story campaigns spread throughout a ten week period. As of this writing only two have been released and if you're expecting some revolutionary multiplayer mode you might be disappointed. Spec Ops however does add some added value to the back story of Halo 4 (Infinity being the name of the ship frequently figuring in the campaign). Unfortunately it's not quite a suitable replacement for the much more enjoyable fire fight mode seen in past Halo games and the CG cutscenes that introduce each episode might only be of real interest to those who love the Halo universe, but with ten weeks to go, maybe it worth waiting to see how it all works out.
So your interest in Halo 4 will entirely depend on your need to play yet another Halo game. It doesn't do anything radically new to the franchise and doesn't really need to, as the fan base already well in place will feel right at home and no doubt pleased with the care and attention given by 343 Industries. While one hopes that 343 try and inject their own personality and ideas into the future games in this new Halo trilogy, with Halo 4 if your looking for more Halo you really can't go wrong.
Thanks for reading,