The Springfield Console Examiner Game of the Year series will focus on five of the most outstanding games released this past year. Some have been reviewed on this site, others have not. Each article will argue pros and cons as to why that game should or should not be the Game of the Year. First up is Halo 4.
When Bungie officially cut the cord on its massively successful Halo franchise, fans across the globe wondered who would take up the reigns, and if the next installment would be the same game that they grew to love since the launch of the first game on the original Xbox. 343 Industries, a company little known to those outside of the Halo universe, became the logical choice. As it turned out, though, the group’s already total immersion in everything Halo would prove to be all it took to make a great game.
Halo 4 is a perfection of the First Person Shooter that Halo revolutionized all those years ago. Ignoring many of the modern tropes associated with the rival Call of Duty franchise, Halo 4 at once feels like a refreshing change of pace, and comforting return to something a little more classic. There are no ironsights, no obnoxiously foul-mouthed military types, and no constantly regenerating enemies. The difficulty comes not in numbers, but in the variety and skill of Master Chief’s opponents, who are as imaginative as ever this time around.
Halo 4 tells one of the most personal stories seen in a shooter this generation. As Cortana is on the verge of rampancy, Master Chief and his A.I. companion are sucked down to Requiem, a strange alien planet. What follows is an urgent and revealing tale in which the usually stoic hero gives all he’s got to try and save his only true companion. Even those who have never played a Halo game before will find this storyline enthralling, and it doesn’t take long until you are emotionally invested in the small cast of characters.
While the game is on the short side, that does little to undermine the level of perfection this game achieves. The game is beautiful right down to the ever present HUB, which is rendered as Master Chief’s helmet outline. Requiem is a wonderful planet to explore, from overgrown jungles to some truly impressive sci-fi settings. The Prometheans are constantly fun to battle, and their weapons are some of the coolest in the series.
For everything the game does right, though, Halo 4 does have its faults, few as they are. The Didact is an unfortunately boring villain who is rarely even present in the story, and the final confrontation is nothing but a simple quick-time event, trivializing what should be an amazing climax. It’s also a little inaccessible to those not familiar with most of the franchise’s backstory, including the novels. The aforementioned campaign length hurts as well, when you consider that the planned trilogy may clock in under twenty hours if this trend continues, which is hardly enough time to tell the truly epic story the ending of this game promises.
Nonetheless, Halo 4 is the best, pure First Person Shooter of the year. Is that enough for Game of the Year? Check back over the next few days to read about the other nominees, and to see who ultimately wins!