Halo 4 is arguably the most anticipated video game release of the year 2012. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the game. After the former game developer, Bungie, let go of the series to 343 Industries, there were a lot of questions as to what differences would be made and if 343 would be able to satisfy the expectations of fans, appealing to what they knew and loved about the series prior. Halo 4 is the return of Master Chief, a Spartan super soldier created to fight the enemies of the futuristic human army, the UNSC. Halo 3 left off with Master Chief in a destroyed spaceship headed toward a Forerunner planet. The opening of Halo 4 begins with Master Chief’s artificial intelligence and the major supporting character to the series, Cortana, waking Chief as their ship is boarded by the enemy, alien race, the Covenant. Chief and Cortana find on the Forerunner planet, a new race of alien, and a weapon created to control and ultimately destroy entire races of beings. Naturally, Chief takes the challenge, boards the planet, and fights to prevent the enemies from taking control of the weapon.
There are four major sections to the game. Halo 4 has a story mode, an online matchmaking mode, a forge mode, and a new co-op mode called “Spartan Ops.” The campaign is the story of Master Chief and Cortana. The player plays as Master Chief in the fight against the newly introduced alien race. With a new race comes new weapons, all pretty much different variations of the alien and human weapons. The story is overall clichéd. There is a big weapon that is going to kill everything and the hero needs to go in a take it out. Sometimes, an overall clichéd story can be forgiven with a hint of originality and great gameplay, both of which the story unfortunately doesn’t fully satisfy. The gameplay and gunplay work and have the all too familiar stamp of not having enough ammo spread throughout the world. The player is constantly made to drop desired weapons and use others to make it to the next mission. The breaks from fighting to cut scenes aren’t fluid enough to keep the player interested in the character elements and there is no real sense of danger. The most interesting thing about the story is Chief’s relationship with Cortana and the strained conversations between them. It is the most we have experienced of Master Chief’s attitude and personality, and the interactions with Cortana play out to be an effective “love” story.
The majority of people don’t stay up until midnight to grab this game for its story. People buy this game for the online matchmaking mode. Matchmaking is where the player can get on Xbox Live with friends and play against other people across the globe. This mode contains all of the old variations including Slayer, Capture the Flag, SWAT, and Team Snipers, along with some newer variations including Domination. They have added elements to the multiplayer to help flesh it out a bit more, like letting the player start by choosing a load out. It also features an all new leveling system. When the player levels up, he or she gets Spartan Points, with which they can buy new guns for their load out or different armor enhancements to help in battle. In the middle of battle, players that string kills together can place airdrops in their desired locations. If players know anything about Call of Duty, they will see the elements plucked from that series. I am not a Call of Duty fan; I am just stating the facts. The matchmaking is still a lot of fun and Halo is still the only game that allows more than one person to play multiplayer on the same TV, bringing kids together rather than tearing them apart to talk over headsets.
Forge is the system in which players can create their own maps and upload them onto the servers for other players to play. It’s a great way to be creative in a game that fans love. Instead of the horde mode that was featured in Halo: Reach, Halo 4 has a mode called “Spartan Ops.” Spartan Ops are weekly episodes with missions that players can play co-op. Players that do love the story mode can expand that universe with these missions.
Overall, Halo 4 is what Halo fans wanted from 343 Industries’ installment in the series. They kept it simple and didn’t stray far from the source material. Some would say they took the easy way out, but I would say they gave the fans what they wanted. To come out and make big changes would have killed the reputation of 343, and fans of the original series would have been angry with the result. They now have the fans’ trust and can make the bigger steps in the next game. The game looks beautiful, and despite its clichéd story, it brings the great multiplayer element back that Halo fans, like myself, have been craving from a first person shooter.
Article by Tyler Comstock