A few quick thoughts on the Halo 4 campaign. (minor spoilers)

Weird that I've done this two weeks in a row. The UK's total disregard for release dates is a pretty awesome thing.

So, I played through the campaign in one sitting, only taking a two minute break to eat a biscuit and drink some tea. I have liked all of the Halo games, a lot in some cases (ODST) but never loved one... Until now. Halo 4 has the best campaign in the series mostly due to its relentless pacing (one of the reasons I couldn't stop playing it) , its good story and amazing art.

I think the ending is a little flat considering what happens, but the story throughout the 7-8ish hours was consistently good. Well acted, well told and those character models/faces are superb, some of the best out there. It is definitely as reviews have said Cortana's story and it's nice to hear Master Chief with a lot more dialogue.

This game looks amazing, one of the best of this generation, there is a huge amount of variety in the environments and the lighting is great. The game started and I still thought it was in a cut scene, the hazy, moody lighting in the first mission doesn't come close to some of the amazing visuals later in this game.

The score is one of the best in a game this year. The sounds of the guns have all been redone, I found it a little strange that there isn't a single one of the old style plasma guns in the game, its been replaced with a plasma rifle thing that works exactly the same. All of the new effects for the guns make them sound like they do an insane amount of damage. The tank has this ridiculous, echoey boom that makes you feel godlike.

There's a good mix of on foot and vehicle sequences and the new enemies can be terrifying when they start teleporting towards you. The smaller ones are little fuckers that can be taken down easily if there is one or two, but in large numbers they will kill your shields in an instant.

Final thoughts. I think this game is easily one of the best of the year, it hasn't jumped to the top of my list, but I assume it will be right up there after messing around with the multiplayer. I think the final gameplay/story section is a bit weak and the epilogue is just setting up the next games. I'd like to have known more about the bad guy, although I have a feeling a lot of that backstory is hidden in some of the terminal stuff I unlocked. It is nuts to think a game that looks this good is running on such old hardware, I could gush endlessly about the games visuals. I think 343 have balanced honouring the past and making Halo their own pretty damn well. I can't wait to see what they do with the series next.

This game is totally more Halo.

25 Comments
26 Comments
Edited by GunstarRed

Weird that I've done this two weeks in a row. The UK's total disregard for release dates is a pretty awesome thing.

So, I played through the campaign in one sitting, only taking a two minute break to eat a biscuit and drink some tea. I have liked all of the Halo games, a lot in some cases (ODST) but never loved one... Until now. Halo 4 has the best campaign in the series mostly due to its relentless pacing (one of the reasons I couldn't stop playing it) , its good story and amazing art.

I think the ending is a little flat considering what happens, but the story throughout the 7-8ish hours was consistently good. Well acted, well told and those character models/faces are superb, some of the best out there. It is definitely as reviews have said Cortana's story and it's nice to hear Master Chief with a lot more dialogue.

This game looks amazing, one of the best of this generation, there is a huge amount of variety in the environments and the lighting is great. The game started and I still thought it was in a cut scene, the hazy, moody lighting in the first mission doesn't come close to some of the amazing visuals later in this game.

The score is one of the best in a game this year. The sounds of the guns have all been redone, I found it a little strange that there isn't a single one of the old style plasma guns in the game, its been replaced with a plasma rifle thing that works exactly the same. All of the new effects for the guns make them sound like they do an insane amount of damage. The tank has this ridiculous, echoey boom that makes you feel godlike.

There's a good mix of on foot and vehicle sequences and the new enemies can be terrifying when they start teleporting towards you. The smaller ones are little fuckers that can be taken down easily if there is one or two, but in large numbers they will kill your shields in an instant.

Final thoughts. I think this game is easily one of the best of the year, it hasn't jumped to the top of my list, but I assume it will be right up there after messing around with the multiplayer. I think the final gameplay/story section is a bit weak and the epilogue is just setting up the next games. I'd like to have known more about the bad guy, although I have a feeling a lot of that backstory is hidden in some of the terminal stuff I unlocked. It is nuts to think a game that looks this good is running on such old hardware, I could gush endlessly about the games visuals. I think 343 have balanced honouring the past and making Halo their own pretty damn well. I can't wait to see what they do with the series next.

This game is totally more Halo.

Edited by project343

Solid write-up. The one concern I have is more about the "relentless pacing." One of the worst things about the Call of Duty games for me is that they just don't stop. It's an exhausting explosion/gunfire fest for 6-8 hours and you barely have time to breathe. Is this more akin to that?

My favourite parts of all Halo campaigns are when the action is quiet (before you meet the flood for the first time, when the Covenant are sleeping, when you first land on Halo, the opening to the first level in Reach, most of ODST's open world stuff, etc.). Is there a lot of that?

Edited by GunstarRed

@project343: It's more about the way the story is told. Often finishing a chapter you feel compelled to move on. Everything feels more urgent. In other Halo games you're told that something huge is at stake, but there feels like a bigger sense of urgency in this one. There are quiet moments leading to massive outbursts of action, I might be wrong but it feels a little like this has the highest volume of enemies to kill. (excluding endless Flood)

The Call of Duty-esque moments can be counted on one hand. This very, very, very much feels like Halo. I could have done without the parts where you have to breach and clear out rooms in slo-mo by shooting Covenant in the head.

Edited by big_jon

I hope that the Covenant is not entirely back seat in terms of combat ability this time, I am worried that with the Promethean knights kind of taking place as the big bad dudes now that they will have made the Elites and Hunters into pansies. I know this may seem silly to some people but it is really an important thing to me.

Posted by murisan

@GunstarRed said:

@project343: It's more about the way the story is told. Often finishing a chapter you feel compelled to move on. Everything feels more urgent. In other Halo games you're told that something huge is at stake, but there feels like a bigger sense of urgency in this one. There are quiet moments leading to massive outbursts of action, I might be wrong but it feels a little like this has the highest volume of enemies to kill. (excluding endless Flood)

The Call of Duty-esque moments can be counted on one hand. This very, very, very much feels like Halo. I could have done without the parts where you have to breach and clear out rooms in slo-mo by shooting Covenant in the head.

Wait seriously? There are breach-and-clear points? That's kinda lame.

Posted by big_jon

@murisan: I'd guess it's a joke.

Posted by csl316

How are the large scale battles? I'm talking the assault on the AA gun surrounded by 3 wraiths in Reach, or the Storm or Ark levels in part 3. What makes Halo great for me are those sorts of battles that give you options. I've been hearing about the small encounters with the Prometheans so I'm hoping that's not all there is.

Edited by GunstarRed

@big_jon: They are as clever as ever. You fight Covenant for the vast majority of the game and the Elites still weave in and out of the scenery looking for cover. If anything the pattern of the Knights is far more predictable.

@murisan: he he, that might have been a lie.

Posted by murisan

@GunstarRed: oh thank fuck.. you can't do that man...

Posted by big_jon

@GunstarRed: Yay!

Edited by GunstarRed

@csl316: There are pretty open environments, even when fighting the Knights, not always obviously, but there are always options.

The largest scale battles have pretty open environments, one of which really reminded me of a part in Reach, they do all seem to be designed for a vehicle like the Mantis or the tank. You could probably have a try at doing them on foot if you wanted.

Posted by HistoryInRust

@GunstarRed: I'm glad you mentioned the music. Does it feel weird that there's not a ton of the old Halo theme, or is that a welcome change to the tone of the game?

Posted by GunstarRed

@HistoryInRust: The music in the game is fitting. The electronic stuff sounds alien and weird and is appropriately used in Promethean areas. The big orchestral sweeping bits of music are used perfectly during the moments where you're meant to keep moving or the bigger battles. It all fits the universe well, not once did I feel like it was missing the " duh-duh-duh-der...." Halo theme.

Posted by AssInAss

I find it insulting that you're perpetuating the stereotype that Brits have tea and biscuits for breaks.

Kidding aside, I was hoping for more cunning AI from these Prometheans who you say are more predictable than the Elites. Have the Elites gone through AI changes, or is it the same duck and weaving since Halo 1? If the latter, that's disappointing they haven't improved on the AI which what was one of the great parts of Halo.

Posted by big_jon

@AssInAss: I wouldn't worry, I have heard that the Promethean's are a force to be reckoned with on Legendary, the Battlewagons (Highest ranking knights) even have Promethean vision.

And the Elites AI has vastly changed with each game, the Elite in Reach were the most cunning yet. Halo CE they were great too though.

Posted by Tru3_Blu3

Are the Elites not as cheap or as fucked up as Reach's with their lazy, sterile melee and movement animations?

In shorter terms, are they easier to kill than in Reach?

Online
Posted by GunstarRed

@AssInAss: I played through Anniversary last week and the Elites seem quite similar in their behavior.

@Tru3_Blu3: above, I'm not entirely sure what you mean by sterile melee, but none of them seem as dickish as some of the Elites later on in Reach. I do remember the final couple of levels in Reach being a complete pain especially on Heroic/ Legendary.

Posted by jillsandwich

I'm going to wait until the BLOPS 2 review to determine whether or not I should buy Halo or that...this decision is killing me.

Edited by ThroneOfGames

I have a set of questions about the campaign. 
 
- Do quick-time events appear frequently? 
- Are the environments open ended? 
- How's the relationship between Chief and Cortana? 
- How does it differ from previous entries? 
- Are there any Michael Bay moments a.k.a. randomly scripted explosions? 
- How's Didact as a villain? 
- Does Thomas Lasky have a significant role in this game or is he there for fan service? 
- Are there any memorable set-pieces? 
- Does it have an abrupt ending like Halo 2? 
- Are there any bad missions like The Library  from CE and Cortana from Halo 3? 
- Does Master Chief finally get some character development this time? 

Edited by GunstarRed

@ThroneOfGames:

- Do quick-time events appear frequently? - Briefly at the start of the game and briefly at the very end.

- Are the environments open ended? - Some areas let you explore more than others, most objectives have multiple paths

- How's the relationship between Chief and Cortana? - Emotional. At times amusing.

- How does it differ from previous entries? - Prometheans, music, people are well animated in the cutscenes. The story is a real focal point, beautifully acted, especially Cortana... her story is genuinely touching at times.

- Are there any Michael Bay moments a.k.a. random scripted explosions? - Umm, it's no more explodey than past Halo's. There are scripted moments of destruction, but it all makes sense.

- How's Didact as a villain? - Ok, I don't feel comfortable saying more.

- Does Thomas Lasky have a significant role in this game or is he there for fan service? - He has an important role, i hear he is in Spartan Ops also, he is also brilliantly acted.

- Are there any memorable set-pieces? - YES!

- Does it have an abrupt ending like Halo 2? - No, but I felt a little cold about the last scene featuring Master Chief (spoiler!)

- Are there any bad missions like The Library from CE and Cortana from Halo 3? - there was one that seemed like it was heading that way and then had three entirely different looking areas, but no, not really.

- Does Master Chief finally get some character development this time? " - ummm yeaahhhhkindaaaaa. He is still very much Master Chief. He doesn't all of a sudden start sharing his feelings, but You get a sense of what he is feeling for Cortana.

Posted by ThroneOfGames

Two more questions if you don't mind: 
 
- Does it retain the religious symbolism of the previous Halo games? 
- Are there any copy-and-paste environments?

Edited by GunstarRed

@ThroneOfGames: There are a bunch of symbols around the promethean areas, I have no idea about it being religious symbolism or not though. Every mission in the game has a really distinct look.

Posted by mrfluke

@GunstarRed: yea reviews have said that most of the backstory on the didact and the other stuff is hidden in the terminals, they streamlined the story since people play halo like an action game

Question though, do they give reasoning to why the didact acts like he does? cause in the books he was portrayed as a good guy (simple yes or no response please :P)

Posted by mrfluke

@GunstarRed: also how long it take you to beat the game? and are the elites really in the game a whole lot as jeff said?

Posted by DumlaoX

Thanks for the review. From the sound of things, it'll probably be one of the better games I'll have the chance to play this year (right up there with Lumines, Dishonored, and Forza Horizon so far).

Posted by jayherman219

Is it really that good? I've heard its just more of the same.