Recently, I went to the Xbox museum thing. My top 5 games were Halo 3, Halo 5, Halo: Reach, Rock Band, and Xbox Back Compat (featuring a bunch of Halo). I love the series. I'm a huge, huge fan of Halo. It's my favorite FPS series, and I'll routinely go back to an old campaign and play through some of my favorite levels. And yes, some of my favorite levels are from 343's games (Infinity, Composer, the whole sequence of missions on Sanghelios). This team is capable of some really amazing shit.
I hate to be negative on the internet, but I have so many thoughts on Infinite (pretty much spoiler free). And this post turned out to be a lovefest for 343's previous output, surprisingly. I kinda want to hear some updated opinions from folks that have had a chance to finish it by now. I was trudging through the final level, and it felt just like the corridors I saw in the other corridors in earlier levels. There were some cool combat encounters out in the open world, but shouldn't a climactic final level feel... important? I had mixed feelings up to this point, but this was when I threw my hands in the air and went "ok, what the hell is happening here?"
My issue from the start was expectations, I know this. I thought 343 did a fantastic job with the previous two games. Their take on the combat felt better than ever, their encounter design was surprisingly good, the mission pacing was some of the best Halo's ever seen, the art and music felt like their own take on the series, and I was super pumped to see how they'd wrap up this whole Guardians angle. And instead I got a game that feels like it went through development hell. Gears 5 did some similar stuff with open zones, but it still had the scripted sequences that made that series stand out. The final act in Gears 5? It felt important.
I know people seem to like this intimate sort of storytelling, but previous games have done intimate just as well as grandiose. Go replay Reach. There's stuff in that game that hits emotionally in a way I never would have expected from a sci fi shooter.
Even the multiplayer feels like a step back. Halo 5 had some of the best in the series. Warzone was such a cool idea, and they refined it over time into one of the best game modes in the series. The speed of the game made it feel modern, the maps were great, and eventually you got so many cards by just logging in that you always felt a little overpowered. It's a great feeling to have in a multiplayer mode. Breakout was neat, and the movement abilities gave it a little extra kick. Infinite plays well enough, but it feels sort of basic for now. I like that they're listening to feedback and I have high hopes that they'll build on a solid foundation over time. But as of now, it still feels quite limited. For a game with a bottomless budget, I was surprised to see how conservative it all felt at launch.
Again, this is all my opinion. But the reviews of this game were so positive, and it almost feels like people just like the grappling hook. Look, I get it, I've enjoyed grappling hooks since Tenchu. Doom: Eternal had a dope grappling hook. Speaking of which, Id put out The Ancient Gods part 2 this year. It's one of the best batches of single player FPS levels I've ever played.
So, Halo: Infinite. What the hell is happening here? I was so stoked for this game, because 343 was making the series their own. Instead, they scrapped a bunch of story threads, their mission design lost its magic, we decided that the Halo level is the only worthwhile level in the series, big set piece moments with riveting music became old news, and the writing took a turn for the... well, I hope you like the tone of that pilot dude. The fact that the original Halo had open fields AND open snowfields seems like an impossible dream at this point. Instead, I got a late game scenario that I will describe below. It made me feel like I was losing my mind.
Towards the end of the game, Pilot Man gets kidnapped. Master Chief drops everything to save this pilot. Nevermind that I've been sending marines to their death for a dozen hours as I jumped a full Warthog directly into a field of bad guys. I play through big open rooms where they throw waves of guys at you. I walk into a dark room. It starts playing the recording of his wife and daughter. Over and over, I stumble through this dark room as his child tells me about being "SO BIG" in a robotic voice, over and over again, as I stumble in the dark, and the darkness is rising in me, and my feelings about the game come to a head. I'm lost, this annoying, sappy recording keeps playing, and I have no idea what to do. I go to Youtube and find that there was a glowing thing at the entrance I had to press. At this point, I decided that this campaign sucks.
That's it, I've said everything I had to say. What are your thoughts on the game if you've completed it? Or did you quit? Or is this a masterpiece and I just don't understand why people like this and the combat in the new God of War?
Halo, 343, Microsoft... you are capable of some truly amazing work. Please choose a direction for this series and stick with it.