Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, James Bond. All of these are great movie series, each with their own devoted fan base. When I think of these groundbreaking, generational movie series I also think of a series of a different kind, a video game series, Halo. Halo has been a fixture in gaming for the past 14 years. Becoming a multi-billion dollar franchise in the process. In my opinion, making the Xbox into an elite console, and giving birth to competitive gaming as we know it.
I fell in love with Halo when I was young, playing Halo: Combat Evolved on my cousin’s Xbox, Halo 2 at my friend’s house during all-nighters, Halo 3 after school, and Halo 4 in my college dorm. I grew up with Halo, and as I matured so did the game. Halo has managed to change and adapt over the years, while still sticking to the roots that made it the evolutionary game that it was and still is.
I loved every single Halo game that I have played. But if I had to pick one, Halo 3 would be my go to. Not only was the campaign magnificent, but the multiplayer brought me and friends countless hours of pure excitement. I sincerely thank all who helped create these game, as they have given me some great experiences over the years. I first was going to review Halo 3, but after a long thought I decided that I was too bias too give a fair criticism. Therefore, I chose to review the next chapter of the Halo series, and I’m not referring to Halo: ODST or Halo: Reach, but to Halo 4. Although ODST and Reach were great in their own respective ways.
Halo 4 was not developed by the legendary Bungie, but by 343 Industries. Bungie decided to set their child free, and seek other ventures. Although there were key Bungie members that came over to 343, I had a few concerns with a new company picking up my beloved game. Concerns, which were eventually forgotten.
This is the most important aspect of any Halo game to me, I’m a campaign guy anyway but when it comes to Halo, I’m a straight up FANATIC. I grew up with Master Chief, and it was important to me to see him retain his icon status. Although at times I was a little lost keeping up with all the new characters in Halo 4, after soaking in all the new information, I thoroughly enjoyed the new direction 343 was taking Halo. The Prometheans, The Didact, both brought a refreshing feel to the series, I’m not saying that the covenant were getting old, just a little familiar. I loved the entire campaign, it reminded me a lot of my go to Halo 3. 343 kept me glued to my seat all the way to the end, only to want even more. The inclusion of Spartan ops really gave the campaign more longevity, which to me was great, as Campaign is one of my favorite game modes. I can never get enough story, maybe that’s why I’m an English Major.
I always thought Halo 3 had gorgeous graphics, though after playing through Halo 4 and looking back. The improvements are extremely noticeable. The details on character’s faces are the most life like representation I have seen in a Halo game. the graphical difference between the three main forces are extremely enjoyable in contrast. The human weapons and vehicles look mechanic, the covenant’s smooth and shiny, and the promethean’s a great mix of both. I thought 343 did a wonderful job in this regard, possibly one of the strongest aspects of the game.
Where do I even start, Halo has brought some of the most moving, epic, soundtracks in the History of video games, movies, musicals, plays, you name it. The bar was set extremely high for the new team at 343. I’m glad I can say that they reached it, the soundtrack was as beautiful as any previous installement. The score was heavy when it needed to be heavy, and light when it needed to be light. Rising action was complimented by heart pumping audio, and calm discoveries of new terrain was paired with fantastical scores. Halo is known for it’s award winning soundtracks, although it was not as great as games’ past, it was still great. Halo 4’s soundtrack was very Halo-like.
I am going to focus solely on the Multiplayer side of gameplay, as I feel although there were some changes in gameplay they were not significant enough change in the campaign to warrant concern. Halo 4’s multiplayer was very daring, going a little of the path and leaving in armor abilities. Although I am not a huge fan of Armor Abilities (too much like COD in my opinion) I did enjoy them. The multiplayer still had that classic Halo feel, but was still different. It felt, faster, like a mix of Halo 2 and Halo 3. I really enjoyed the multiplayer, though I didn’t play it nearly as much as Halo 3. I think that is due to the fact of a smaller community, I realize the Halo community has shrunk over the years. The die hards and gamers are still there, but I don’t think Halo has the iconic pull it once had when I was little. And that’s fine, I mean people still play Mario all the time. I think if Halo 4 had the same audience that Halo 2 or 3 had, the multiplayer would have been just as successful as those two.
I won’t lie to you, I truly thought that Halo 4 was going to be better. I understand that it was 343’s first time taking on the franchise alone, but I still was not fully satisfied with the final product. It almost felt like it was the opening no-name comedian for the main performer, like Louis C.K., but he never comes on stage. So, you just paid to see some unknown developing comedian, but it’s all good because he was super funny. He wasn’t Louis C.K., but he was super funny and maybe someday he’ll be the opening act.
Still following me?
In conclusion, I greatly enjoyed 343’s first attempt at a Halo game. It gave me something to look forward to as 343 has future Halo games planned, including Halo 5: Guardians in Fall 2015. Halo 4 is a great opening act for the main acts of Halo 5, Halo 6, Halo 7, 8, 9….15.