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The Halo series has been an incredibly successful first person shooter since the first Xbox. It has a very devoted following, and has branched out since it’s early days to be more than just a standard FPS. However it’s hard to say whether or not the much anticipated Halo 4 actually lives up to the hype.
The main plot of Halo 4 is rather similar to the rest of the series, but with it taking place four years after the events of Halo 3 it manages to stay away from feeling too stale. The galaxy is still in the grips of the fight between Humans, Forerunners, The Flood, and The Covenant. Halo 4 is more focused on The Foreunners though where as it predecessors were more focused on Humans vs Covenant. In addition to the overall war still raging Master Chief is also trying to save his AI, Cortona, bringing a larger and more emotional feeling to this installment of Halo.
Yet while Halo 4 manages to not be stale and does pull on the player’s heart strings there is nothing overly compelling about the story either. It’s not that it’s bad, in fact I would argue that it’s a solid story, but after all of these years I found myself a little disappointed that it didn’t blow me away.
However the underwhelmed feeling with the story greatly fits for most of the game, in fact. The graphics are beautiful, but the worlds look very similar to locations already visited in the Halo Universe. There is still a wide variety of weapons but they mostly feel like rehashes of what we’ve seen in the past. There is still solid game play, but there aren’t really any new features. They did fine tune what was introduced in other games, but fine tuned is not the same as new. One such feature is the armoring system which does flow very well into gameplay this time around. I would have to say the one place that Halo 4 shines is in the audio. It’s spot on in both sound track and sound effects and never ceases to keep the player sucked in. However, one really wonderful thing in a world of just average isn’t enough to elevate the entire experience to what I had hoped it would be.
As with other Halo games co-op works it’s way in nicely and even makes the game much better. I find this both wonderful and terrible. It’s nice that they have local co-op and that playing online with people is solid, however it does kind of tie your arms if you can’t do that. If you don’t have the time to play with one or more partners through the whole game the single player isn’t impossible, but it does lose a bit of the fun. I personally love playing with other people, but since I am rarely afforded that chance I don’t want to feel punished for it.
Single player is definitely only one aspect of the Halo Universe though, and to many people the least important. What seemed to really set Halo apart for the longest time was the incredible multiplayer. There are a decent number of game types this time around. Team Free for All, King of the Hill, Oddball, and zombies to name a few. Another gametype is fan favorite Grifball. There are also a few of the big team game types, that allow you to be on much larger teams. It’s really nothing new or unexpected from anyone with experience with Halo Multiplayer, just once again a lot of the same slightly tweaked to make gameplay a bit more solid and the experience a bit better.
Halo 4 like many other multiplayer games has the rank up system for playing online. As with co-op I have mixed feelings on this. On the one hand I love being rewarded for playing and doing well. There is something nice about getting experience and making custom loadouts to put towards helping you to be a better player. However it does bring up the issue of punishing those that simply don’t have the time to devote hours to the multiplayer experience. Since all game types are team, new players won’t be completely left in the dust but there is a clear disadvantage.
However, unlike most games, Halo does offer Spartan Ops as a chance to make up for those that struggle with being low level in the standard multiplayer. Spartan Ops are more missions. They can be done alone, though they will present a rather large challenge for lower level players attempting them on their own. With other players these missions are fairly quick and offer a decent amount of experience. The big benefit though is that you are always playing with other players and never against, so it levels the playing field significantly. It’s nice to have a second option to rank up rather than playing against others that are at a much higher rank giving yourself a disadvantage.
The sad truth though is while looking at all the things Halo 4 does right, there is still nothing about it that’s amazing. I think the sad truth is, the more people play the more clear it is that Halo has started to hit the end of it’s heyday. Fans of the series will still enjoy this game and people that are new to Halo will find something solid and amusing. It’s really hard to find a bottomline with this game. 7 out of 10.
[gameinfo title="Game Info" game_name="Halo 4" developers="343 Industries" publishers="Microsoft Studios" platforms="Xbox360" genres="FPS" release_date="06/11/12"]