Halo meets Prime
I'm a little late to the Halo 4 review circuit, but maybe I can give you a different look at Halo 4. Because I've only had time to play the campaign, and I don't normally do well at Halo multiplayer, this review will only cover the campaign.
Let me say first off that I am a Halo fan. I didn't think I ever would be. In fact I used to be a hater until I finally played the first Halo when the 360 first came out. I'm no longer a hater now and I try to get my non-Halo playing friends to join in too.
I have to say here that I'm also a big Metroid Prime fan. The original Prime was one of my favorite games of the 00's. I loved the aesthetic changes that Retro Studios added to the Metroid series, and I loved the game play. I enjoyed nearly everything about Metroid Prime.
The reason I bring Metroid Prime up is because I saw several similarities between Prime and Halo 4. I've heard that some of the artists for Prime helped on Halo 4. There may be more influences that I'm not aware of, but I would like to address other similarities between these two games other than just the art and aesthetic influences.
Metroid is arguably Nintendo's most coveted franchises. I choose to say "coveted" instead of beloved because, while Mario holds the later entitlement, Nintendo fans expect their Metroid games to be top notch and they don't seem to mind when Nintendo whores Mario out for any number of bizarre iterations. That is why, when Nintendo announced years ago that the followup to Super Metroid (one of the greatest games of all time) would be an FPS and developed by an unknown American studio, Nintendo Fandom cried out in rage. However, once the game was released, it received the praise that it deserved. Of course it was no Super Metroid, but it was a very admirable try.
Now fast forward to two or so years ago when Bungie gave up the Halo license to pursue their own interests. Halo Fandom cried out "foul" to another studio stepping in and developing a "numbered" Halo game. Now we have Halo 4. It has been out for some time. And, although it's no Halo: Combat Evolved-like leap in game development, Halo Fandom has played it and accepted it. Also, gaming journalism has given it good reviews and praised 343's ability to create a "Halo" game. I think that Halo 4 is the Halo series' Metroid Prime.
I personally like the new direction. I think Halo could use some more fantastic elements added to it. A little more mystery and intrigue could take the series in an interesting direction. Honestly, all I want is a new Metroid game with this level of production value and polish. How cool would that be?! Will Nintendo do that? I doubt it.
So, let's talk about the parts of the game that I felt fell a bit short. These first two gripes are probably legitimate design choice, but I didn't like them either way.
1. When you run, it feels like your legs suddenly got covered with molasses. Yes, you are technically moving faster, but it "feels" like you aren't. Also, the running only lasts a short time which sucks when you really have to get away. I know that Master Chief is supposed to be a tank, but come on he moves just fine in the cut scenes.
2. The reload on the shotgun is too damn SLOW! I'm sure this was done on purpose, but it caused me to purposely not use the shotguns through the entire campaign.
Now for the one gripe that I had with Halo 4 that I just couldn't get over. The music is so boring and never "present" in the game play (other than the last level). For the first 1/4 of the game I Kept thinking to myself, "It'll pick up soon man. Just be patient." But, it never did. There were a few parts of the game where I did notice the music, but it was so quiet that that bothered me. And, this wasn't a matter of "the music did its job by not distracting me from the game play". No, the lack of music, or lack of adrenalin pumping music, was more distracting. As I mentioned, the music does pick up in the second half of the game, but until the last level, it never did impress me.
These few gripes aside, Halo 4 was a very good experience and I'm ready to go back again on a harder level. This is necessary since the campaign is a bit too short. I'll probably jump in to some Spartan Ops too. I really loved what 343 did to the franchise, and I'm excited for more.
Also, if anyone from Nintendo happens to read this, quit dicking around; this is what you should do with the Metroid franchise!