Wake up, John
The Master Chief is back! To some people, they may groan at the thought of playing as a character that hardly speaks and lacks some personality, but in Halo 4 343i has written the chief as much dialogue in this game as he's had in the previous 3 games he has been in. He is given a little bit more personality and is left in a very interesting position with himself by the time the story wraps up. The story in general is the most mysterious it has been since the original Halo, and includes some revelation to exactly who the Forerunners were and a bit of their history. I do find some issue with the way that some of the key points of the story can only really be enjoyed by finding the terminals hidden throughout the campaign (which can only be viewed on Halo Waypoint) or by knowing things from the mountain of information and story beats from the various novels. Overall the pacing of the story telling, and the campaign in general, is rather excellent. I do feel that you fight the covenant a little too much than I'd like, but the 'combat sandbox' is still as fun as ever so it's not too much of a gripe.
As with previous Halo games, you can certainly get your value for money. Forge mode returns and is better than ever with more advanced tools to create all kinds of maps and game types, from simple tweaks to massive complexes. The structures you can make in forge also look more interesting than they did in Reach thanks to you being able to make all your building blocks not just a boring grey which certainly breaks up the monotony. Theatre mode also returns mostly intact, the only real thing missing is that you can't watch replays of campaign missions.
Now to the meat of any good Halo game; it's multiplayer. While Reach was a fun multiplayer game at first, it wasn't long before it's evident problems reared their ugly heads. These included unbalanced armour abilities such as armour lock to just the slow paced nature of the game with some poor map design and over powered grenades. None of these issues carry over to Halo 4. This game is a lot faster paced, but it still feels like a Halo game. The controls are tight and the weapons are all rather well balanced. The loadout system that people were worrying about simply adds variety to the gameplay and also adds another layer of strategy. Do you bring an assault rifle with you to shred through enemies in a close quarters map? Or are you going to keep you enemies at arm's length and bring your trusty DMR? The armour abilities and 'perks' all add subtle differences to the way you can play, such as using the hardlight shield (the thankfully much more balanced replacement of Armour Lock) to protect yourself from a fatal shot as you slip back cover, or closing the gap on a distant enemy with your unlimited sprint mod. All of this, good map design and a persistent level up system make the multiplayer of Halo 4 extremely addicting.
The latest and newest ripple to the Halo formula this time round is Spartan Ops. While the name is admittedly terrible, this game mode offers fun co-op action while providing an interesting side story in the form of a nice lengthy cutscene you can watch at the start. The ops are released in 'episodes' and one episode will be released every one or two weeks (I forgot exactly which) and I'm definitely interested to see where they take it. It's not exactly the perfect replacement for firefight, but at least it's fun and isn't semi-broken with lag issues (which I almost always had with firefight for whatever reason).
So is Halo 4 the best Halo yet? Or as IGN seem to have put it, the besht game evar!?! I'm going to say no, not quite. I feel the campaign doesn't quite reach the same heights as the original Halo did (although 4 has a lot less of the lows *cough* The Library *cough*) and the multiplayer is not quite as mind blowing as I found Halo 2/3's to be. It is still probably this year's best big title multiplayer game however and comes with an extremely well paced and replayable campaign to boot. The way the story leaves the characters in the end also has me extremely interested to see what tale this new trilogy will tell however, it almost makes me want to put myself in to cryosleep for 2 years when Halo 5 is out. Almost.