The painfully long wait is over. The unending hype has finally subsided. The pixelated smoke has finally cleared. Halo 4, arguably the decade’s most anticipated video game, has finally shipped.
That’s right, my Xbox 360, itchy trigger-fingered, comrades in arms, in case you’re late to the next highly anticipated installment of Hallowed Halo Intergalactic Fragapalooza, for nearly a month now, Master Chief, his fellow recruits and the scourge of the Halo universe, The Covenant, have collectively been absconding with the virtual lives of millions of hardcore gamers like yours truly, to say nothing of countless man hours lost playing it, in the endless, cavernous, black suck hole of time.
So, the Halo hysteria being what it is, does this generation’s, game of all games, live up to the lofty expectations of casual gamers in general and legions of fanatical Halo franchise fan boys in particular?
That’s one question that can’t help but be held up to even more scrutiny than usual, given that the legendary creator of the original and all subsequent titles, save this one, Bungie Studios, handed the reins over to 343 Industries to create Halo 4, an offshoot of Microsoft Game Studios founded in 2007.
Shelf life and replayability (yeah, “replayability” is a real word. I should know, I just made it up.) notwithstanding, the jury is still out, but so far, gamers and critics alike have fallen in love all over again, for this, the fourth iteration of the title by which all other first person shooters are measured.
And rightly so.
The campaign is satisfying on every level, the voice acting sublime, the story line inspired and the cut scenes so engrossing, remarkably, they might just have you secretly wishing they would never end and that the plight of Master Chief would play out as it would on the big screen at your local multiplex, instead of in front of the flat screen in your man cave, your 360 controller and his fate – in your hands.
So, it almost goes without saying (and honestly this isn’t even open to debate) that this is by far, the best campaign of any Halo game yet.
All that said, as any gamer worth his polygonal salt will surely tell you, multiplayer is where it’s at. It’s the true measure of any video game in a bizarro world, where you’re expected to drop 60, count ’em, 60 bones – without blinking, just for the mere privilege of cracking into its brand new, shiny, shrink-wrapped majesty.
How does the multiplayer in Halo 4 stack up? Well, it can best be summed up thusly: If the campaign is the best appetizer you’ve ever had in your entire life – with bacon piled on top even, the multiplayer is not just “last meal” good – it’s DEATH ROW, get ready to hear “Dead Man Walking” echoing loudly along your cell block, as you shuffle along in your shackles, mentally preparing yourself to get strapped into the chair, as you roll up your sleeves, resolved to your inevitable conclusion on the way to meet your maker —right after you enjoy your “last meal” good.
Yeah. Halo 4’s multiplayer is that epifanglorious.
Simply put, it’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a Halo multiplayer – and then some.
What’s new, better and different that makes this Halo multiplayer stand cybernetic helmets and reinforced shoulder shields above its epic ancestry? Everything.
(NOTE: This is the part where, normally, I would tell you to go get get yourself a pen and paper to take notes and make a list, but I’ve gone on ahead and done it for you myself and I’m passing the savings on to you.)
Now, where was I?
Oh yeah. Halo 4 rules and reigns supreme because…
• In Halo 4 multiplayer, now, instead of starting matches with a set, white bread, standard loadout, so boring it might just make your genetically engineered eyes glaze over, you can choose between the classic AR, the bad-ass BR, or the devastating DMR – just to name a few.
• If genocide, shock and awe and an ever increasing body count are more your style, you can satiate your bloodlust with a bevy of hell raising hardware, like the shotgun, sniper rifle, energy sword, and the peanut butter & jelly perfectly matched duo – rocket and grenade launchers. You can find them one and all, all over the map, only now, unlike the Halos of days gone by, weapon spawns appear to happen at random, which REALLY makes things interesting.
• This time around, the more you fight and the more kills, assists, and lives of your buddies you save, the more points you earn to fill and refill your ordnance meter. Once that bad boy is topped off to the max, you can then call in for resupply drops that descend down like manna from heaven in the form of miniature ODST pods.
• The resupply drops in Halo 4 are really “power ups” like the new SAW machine gun, over shield or the aforementioned, most dangerous and most sought after weapons in the game.
• In Halo 4 multiplayer, even the baddies get upgrades. So now, every Spartan can sprint short distances, meaning you better watch your backside, extra close if you know what’s good for you.
• In Halo 4, you can move faster and jump farther than ever before. This slight “tweak” seems to enhance play and increase the pace of matches, which means you spend more light years in the heat of battle and far less time in matchmaking. All that said, as is evidenced by discussion boards all over the internet – some people love it and some people hate it. To those who love it, congratulations. Your intergalactic man card is in full effect. Those who don’t? Not so much. Perhaps you should play something more your speed. Like, say, Viva Piñata: Party Animals.
• Halo 4 multiplayer offers a total of ten kickass maps, with an additional nine maps releasing in packs of three in the near future. That’s enough real estate for any Halo player to get lost in. Hell, even Ted Turner’s real estate guy would find that impressive.
Long story, short: What it all adds up to is, this. Halo 4 has the most enjoyable Halo multiplayer experience, if not the most enjoyable first person shooter experience, you will ever experience in a video game.
If you disagree, do feel free to log into XBox Live and send a friend request to CipheringPhenom and I’ll be more than happy to persuade you otherwise.