Friday, November 16, 2012

Halo 4 Reviewed: Yeah, It's Awesome

I have been a hardcore Halo fan since I was a little boy (I haven't been alive very long). It was probably the first shooter I have ever seen running so well on a console, whereas most shooters have always been reserved for PC. In fact, it was almost scary to imagine that the now dated Half Life was released only a few years earlier in 1998. But that's not important. What is important is that the Halo series is no longer in the hands of Bungie. Now, the franchise is completely controlled by Microsoft's 343 Industries, a company that exists to power the Halo brand. And Halo 4 is supposedly only the first in a new trilogy of Halo games following the Master Chief from where we left off on the Forward Unto Dawn way back in Halo 3.


But just where did Master Chief leave off? Well, he's been floating in space snug inside the Forward Unto Dawn in cryo-sleep, while Cortana has slowly begun a process known as "Rampancy," slowly causing her to succumb to insanity. This becomes a huge part of the game, as her behavior definitely plays a huge role in the plot and also serves as the emotional connection between the player and the game that only Halo could establish. But more on that later. Master Chief awakens to find that covenant have attacked the FUD (yes, this is the abbreviation I will be using for the ridiculous name of this floating carcass of a spaceship), and that they are approaching a large mass of light. HALT. You mean the sort of kind of almost cliffhanger from the legendary Legendary ending (see what I did there?) of Halo 3 holds importance in Halo 4? YEAH BUD, IT DOES.

The Covenant and the Chief battle it out on the FUD, only to end up sucked into this strange new planet, with another adorable name: Requiem. You know how the Halo installations were essentially large organic worlds covered and enclosed in inorganic structures? Well, that's what Requiem is. Except it's not a gigantic ring used to house the flood (sorry kids), it's a giant planet covered in a totally new and totally bad-ass enemy. Enter the Prometheans.  These guys are big, bad, shiny, and shoot light from their guns constructed of floating pieces. They're also assembled of floating parts, which is freaking awesome. I can talk about how great these things are all day and it wouldn't get me anywhere, you truly need to take a look for yourself to appreciate the awesomeness of these new enemies and their arsenal of light-emitting rifles.

But that's ENOUGH about the plot. I'm not into ruining the other 80 or so percent of the game I have not yet mentioned. So, if this in itself wasn't enough to flash the red light in your head to go out and buy this game, read on.

One little tiny thing I forgot to mention. Halo 4's multiplayer! For some people, this is a secondary feature. I am one of those people. So if I don't make ya'll happy with my review of the multiplayer... too bad. Then again, for others, Halo multiplayer is the number one reason to buy the game. And for you dudes, I appreciate your love and concern, and if you haven't already gone out and gotten this masterpiece of a game, god love ya. Halo 4 implements some of the best multiplayer features I have ever seen in a Halo game. Granted, some of these things have existed in the Call of Duty series... but DUDE, Halo can totally do it too! Along with the whole new arsenal of weaponry, Halo 4 features 13 standard maps... with two map packs to follow. These maps take all the fun from Halo CE, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo Reach, and put everything together into one insane multiplayer feature. However, I don't think people will disagree that much of Halo 4's multiplayer resembles Halo Reach.

Of the new things to come with Halo 4, perhaps the most invigorating is the Spartan Ops feature. This new mode of play allows players to play alone, cooperatively at home, or over Xbox Live, to fulfill missions that have been and will be released weekly. Worried you finish Halo too soon? Heh. You wish. With this mode, there will be weeks and months of fun to come. Along with Spartan Ops is a rejuvenated Forge... even if 343 seems to have forgotten about it. Forge is always a treat, and this time around comes packed with new ways to play. If you aren't familiar with Forge, it's Halo's built-in map editing sandbox that allows players to build new maps for Halo 4 based off of existing ones bundled with the game. For me, this will never cease to be the funnest feature of the Halo games. Whether I'm looking to build a whole new environment for games, cool new structures to show off, or to just run around dropping warthogs out of the sky on my friends, there is always something to do with Halo's Forge.

Halo 4 is probably the best Halo yet. Why is that? It builds on the same formula of Halo Combat Evolved. It's nostalgic (TO AN EXTENT), thoughtfully ties in plot and character into a structured first person shooter, establishes a sense of curiosity for the unknown and vast world surrounding the player, brings the best artificial intelligence technology in video games to the player, and has a kick ass arsenal of weapons. Halo 4 is everything I wanted it to be and more. And I think you'll agree. I was pretty concerned when Bungie decided to drop the Halo series and go onto different things, but I'm pretty sure it was for the best. 343 Industries know what to do and how to do it, and I have no doubts that Halo 5, 6 and whatever follows it will be just as incredible.

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