343 Does Halo Just As Good (If Not Better) Than Bungie!
Halo 4 developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft is a slightly different take on the iconic series that fans everywhere have loved for years. 343 adds a new story arch and some gameplay tweaks to deliver a highly enjoyable game.
For the record I am not one of the Halo super fans that have followed the series for years. I played a little bit of Halo 1 and Halo 3, but other than that Halo 4 was easily the game I sunk the most time into. At its core Halo 4 is very similar to every other game in the series with some minor tweaks that cater more towards lovers of other FPS series of games aka (CoD or Battlefield).
The Story follows Master Chief as he is awoken by his A.I partner Cortana from a hyperbolic sleep chamber. Cortana is having a breakdown that every A.I unit has, and is sort of turning a bit evil as she leads the Chief unknowingly to open up a leader of this ancient race known as the Promethians. The Didact as the leader is known is of course evil and Master Chief must reverse what he has done. Most of the story follows the relationship between the Chief and Cortana as 343 has elected to personify Cortana into a visible female figure which you can see. People who complain about the game generally point to this change of Cortana as a reason for discourse, but I actually like what they have done to her and the story. With that said the story isn't too outstanding but it is more than serviceable given what FPS stories have become over the years.
Halo 4 plays very similarly to any other game in the franchise. Linear story and level design, check, shoot some enemies and move on, check, throw in some vehicle sections to mix things up a bit, check. Despite offering nothing new on the campaign side I think it comes together well and is a very nice change of pace to some of the other FPS games I have mentioned earlier. The biggest gameplay addition is that the Chief can now sprint freely without having to equip something special in a loadout slot. The player is also shooting some new enemies such as crawlers, knights, and some kind of hovering robot turret jesus healer enemy which is awkwardly pooped out by the Promethian knights. The campaign can be a blast to play through with a co-op partner either online or off. I haven't really spent too much time playing it solo because the co-op was so much fun. The campaign is pretty standard in length at about 7 hours, but there are unlockables to find and other difficulties to play on.
The multiplayer is where everyone is going to play Halo, and I think that 343 Industries has done a better job than Bungie in creating an insanely fun multiplayer game. The biggest change to past Halo's is in the loadout section. The game adds loadouts (loadouts may have been introduced in Halo Reach, but I have not played it) which can be customize with numerous different weapons, abilities, and perks. Armour can also be customized in any way as in previous games of the series. There are a bunch of new weapons from the Promethian race and all off them are fun to use but generally pretty similar to weapons that you would find on the Humans or the Covenant. In addition there are abilities and perks such as having increased rate of shield recovery, using a deployable shield or turret, or using a jetpack to hover around the map. There are also field order rewards that the player can spawn after reaching a certain number of points that either gives you a special weapon or a temporary boost to speed, damage ect. There are a ton of game modes and options to play even without DLC content downloaded. This is in contrast to Halo 3 where really only 2 or 3 game types were available without the DLC packs. However there doesnt seem to be many maps at all in Halo 4 as they are divided into the smaller or larger game types, so the player only has access to half of the maps at one given time. There is also a vastly different XP system and model in Halo 4 as the player gains xp and loadout points in a very similar manner to a Call of Duty game. 343 essentially has ripped a few elements from Call of Duty, but this isn't a bad thing as CoD has done many things right in terms of player progression and experience points.
Instead of offering a horde mode side feature Halo 4 presents these Spartan Ops missions which are essentially horde missions just with some minor story elements. I found Spartan Ops fun to play especially on Legendary but it gets very grindy quickly and wears out its welcome very soon. Its an ok addition to the game for people interested in some more co-op gameplay, but overall its not a great mode.
Halo 4 is easily the best looking game in the series yet as I think 343 focused on providing a lot of detail to the look and design of the game. The game features great graphics and animations to go along with levels and maps that are designed very well. There isnt anything new visually from other games in the series except for the new enemies, but there is a lot more detail on everything from weapons to environments. The sound in the game is good and parts and a little lacklustre in others. The weapons and sound effects are great, but the music falls a little flat as it isn't as epic as past games in the series.
Overall Halo 4 is a very fun and entertaining game that is a blast to play co-op or multiplayer. I had a tough time debating between 4 or 5 stars but I think ill settle on 4, and I am definitely looking forward to the next game that 343 Industries puts out.