With 343 Industries now fully at the helm of the Halo franchise, will their continuation of the iconic Xbox series live up to the standard that Bungie left behind?
The opening cut scene prepares you well for what to expect through the rest of the game. That is awe inspiring cut scenes, which are up there as contenders for the best cut scenes I have ever watched. You can tell that Microsoft and 343 have put serious money and backing into this new game and it has definitely worked.
As you venture through the Halo universe you are treated to a wonderful, diverse collection of some of the greatest console scenery this generation has ever seen. Whether it is the inside of an UNSC ship or on an alien planet, the graphics on this game will not leave you disappointed.
As you witness the astounding landscapes of a new planet you are introduced to a new enemy. The newcomers to this Halo franchise are the Prometheans, and with this they bring new creatures, new weaponry and new enemies into the game.
The Promethean army consists of a diverse array of different foes. There are Watchers who provide strategic airborne support, Knights who are heavily armoured with teleportation abilities to disorientate you and Crawlers, which are dog, like, metallic creatures that hunt in large groups hoping to overwhelm you from every possible angle.
It wouldn’t be Halo if it wasn’t for the Covenant so in this game they are present along side the Prometheans, albeit there is only a small number of them. But it is a pleasant surprise stumbling upon a group of them after fighting some Prometheans, enabling reminisce on your Halo memories by slaughtering more hunters, grunts and elites.
With limited ammo in each level there is an emphasis on picking up and reusing enemy weapons, and when you do you won’t regret it. With each Promethean weapon you pick up, it will assemble into your hand in an amazing display, which you have to see to understand. This is then reproduced when reloading with some epic dissembling/reassembling effects, especially on the Promethean pistol.
As well as Promethean weaponry the UNSC has got some awesome new technological upgrades in its arsenal. For example there is the Mantis, a large, exoskeleton type vehicle that will help you eliminate any enemy that stands in your way.
On the subject of vehicles your trusty Warthogs and Mongooses do make a return. It is not just new vehicles though; the Hardlight shield will protect you from most enemy fire, which can be very useful when reloading in those tricky situations.
Overall it is an impressive campaign, which will indulge you for the majority of the time. You can see that 343 Industries have tried to vary this game from its Bungie predecessors. My only criticism is that with this game, like its predecessors, parts of the campaign felt very repetitive.
Co-Op campaign is always a nice addition to a game, but in Halo 4 there is also a new co-operative game mode called Spartan Ops. Spartan Ops will release a new mission each week for 10 weeks; in each mission there will be 5 chapters. This is a lot of game play for your buck and all content to be released will be free. My only concern is how the missions will vary each week, but I will leave that up to the geniuses at 343.
Returning to the game is the addictive Halo online multiplayer that we all know and love, although this time it is returning under the new title of War Games. It contains the classic multiplayer features and combines them with new and improved features, which really do make a difference for the better.
One of these new additions is an XP ranking system, common to what you would find on your normal FPS (CoD, Battlefield, etc) but with a twist. Every time you rank up you will gain a SP. These can then be redeemed to purchase new weapons, technologies and abilities for your load outs. After a while it takes a long time to rank up so when you first start ranking up, spend that SP wisely.
A returning feature to the multiplayer is that you can find more powerful weapons in spawn locations around the map. But there is a slight improvement; this is that when you reach a certain number of kills you get to request some ordnance to spawn at your location. This can be anything from powerful weapons to an overshield.
On the game there are 10 different online maps to choose from and there are different maps for different game modes. They also differ when thinking about the combat that will be required on each.
For example Ragnarok features a large grassy plain with lots of vehicles for you to use, from Ghosts, Warthogs and the newly added Mantis. Then there is Complex set on the planet Requiem, which is great for gun combat.
There are quite a lot of different game modes, which include Team Death Match (known as Team Slayer), Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, Regicide, Oddball and a few more. Each mode is enjoyable, but when playing against experienced players it can be annoying getting sniped from across the map.
As previously mentioned most of the vehicles in the campaign are also useable in the multiplayer. Nothing beats playing with a friend sharing a Warthog, and absolutely destroying the other team. (One driver and one gunner.) If you do see a Mantis not being used I would definitely recommend using it, as it is very powerful and not easy to take down.
This introduction to 343’s ‘Reclaimer Series’ is a good addition to the Halo franchise and it looks like the rest of the trilogy will also be good. It is good to see 343 supporting the game by releasing more Spartan Ops over time. So if you liked the original series then you will like this.