I've played Halo pretty much since the beginning: I was introduced in it's early days by an elementary school friend that I played the campaign in coop with a heck of a lot. I loved that game then, and loved it even more when I played it again on my shitty HP computer, and my old school white Mac Book. I played Halo 2 with friends on a pretty regular basis in the later years of my elementary education, and that continued up until the release of Halo 3 in my 7th year of school. I got it with a friend at midnight, and we beat it on Legendary together that night. I picked up my own copy, a legendary edition, the next day, and played the hell out of the multiplayer for that game. I loved the franchise. I loved the space Marine (who ironically is actually a Sailor) with a twist idea, I found the covenant to be a joy to blast through, and loved the run and gun nature of the combat. It always felt dynamic and exciting and bombastic, with way too many things to keep track of going on at once, but in a way that felt like you were hanging on by the seat of your pants, not overwhelmed by busy bullshit. And when you were overwhelmed or surprised by something, it was the kind of thing you and your buddies would talk about for the next three weeks, bragging about some awesome thing that happened to all of your other schoolyard peers.
I even enjoyed the fiction and story, which, despite it's allusions to religious texts, I found pretty grounded in reality. Humanity was fighting against fanatics that believed in what they were doing, and the downfall of that fanatical society was pretty interesting. And the UNSC side of the fiction was pretty cool too, especially once you dug into the extended universe. Books like The Flood and The Fall of Reach were awesome, and gave a really cool chunk of what were, for me, the best parts of the Halo fiction.
And then you have Reach, and ODST. Both excellent games as well. Halo 3: ODST was (obviously, I should hope) in the same vein as Halo 3, and in a lot of ways felt very familiar. But it also managed to get that extended fiction cool factor from showing things outside of the Chief's perspective. On top of that, the atmosphere that was created by that game's hub and it's characters was pretty fantastic. The art and music was so incredibly excellent in that game, which came as a no surprise for fans of the franchise. Reach was also able to capture another part of the Halo universe, and one that at least in the literature, I found to be one of the most interesting periods of time in the Halo franchise: the glassing of Reach. It's an emotionally charged thing, the destruction of an entire planet, and not going with Chief's story on Reach but instead with this new cast of characters was a pretty cool move on Bungie's part. It also gave a chance to play with a new mood and feel. It was still familiar, but it also had a freshness to it. It also had an excellent multiplayer component.
And then Halo 4 comes along... And I have to say, the first level or two of that game was damned impressive. The combat was pretty sparse, and it was a lot of set-up and a bit of exploration following that as you crash land on this alien planet. It felt new, and it was gorgeous, and I found it to be a pretty strong start to the game. At that point I was pretty excited to play the game through, and super excited for the story to unfold. But as the combat started to ramp up, I started to notice that it didn't really feel like Halo. At least, not like Halo as created by Bungie. It felt like Halo created by... MLG... The weapons lacked power if you weren't pumping rounds into them, super-combining then, or headshotting them. Even grunts can take a beating on normal (I started on Heroic, as I usually do, but recently bumped down to normal to see if I could get more of that run and gun feel back. I did not) if you don't shoot them in the face. And hey, I love shooting grunts in the face. Between Halo 3, ODST's Firefight, and Reach, I had gotten pretty good at shooting grunts in the head and seeing the pink mist (of confetti). But in Halo 4, any miss felt incredibly frustrating. It felt like a waste of ammo, and that in a game with such a dismal supply of ammo beyond the boring, and in my opinion, inferior Forerunner weapons, was really obnoxious. Grenades were a particularly tragic loss, as they had been so goddamn fun to use in Reach. They felt potent, but not over-powered (unless you played the BETA early on! :3). They actually killed enemies. Now, they just kinda fizzle out, after a 20 second fuze. The new grenade is especially useless, as it seems to be a black hole kinda thing, that doesn't actually work as a black hole, so it's just a spot that the AI knows to avoid.
In past Halo games, the weapons littering the battlefield were numerous, varied, and candy-like in nature. I always felt like I wanted to pick up that weapon when I swapped out whatever I was using. I rarely felt I was just doing what I needed to do. In Halo 4, the weapon variety is incredibly poor in the campaign, because you only see about 4 weapons in any real consistent manner. You'll see an AR and either a DMR or BR at the start of a level for a short while, and then you'll just use a light rifle and whatever other new weapon you prefer as a secondary. Maybe you'll pick up a needler. Rarely did I see enemies dropping plasma pistols, and gone were the plasma rifles of old, replaced by reskinned ARs instead. No more human weapons really, you pretty much just had whatever was issued to you. I still haven't seen a human shotgun, my favorite weapon in the franchise. It's been all SAW and DMR and AR for me, and then the light rifle on the Forerunner side of things, and whatever other weapon I can scrounge up. It doesn't feel fun, it doesn't feel like ammo management, it just feels like a lack of variety. Especially with grenades feeling so useless, and armor abilities being a little less interesting than they have in the past, and in my opinion much less interesting than Halo 3's equipment.
And then the new enemy types came in. And I wasn't having fun fighting them at all. The crawlers felt really hard to headshot, and that led to me feeling like I was just throwing ammo away once again. They felt like the flying bug things would sometimes feel in Halo 2. The Knights feel a lot like brutes in Halo 2: bullet sponges and nothing more. The little repair drones weren't really that interesting beyond turning side ways when they got shot, which just made them take that much longer to take out so you could actually focus on the real encounter. And I don't know that there are any other types? I dunno, maybe I forgot one. Again, a real lack of variety. It's just boring.
I'm curious how other's feel about the campaign. Specifically, does it really feel true to Halo, or does it feel like an imitation? Do you like the new changes?