When “Halo 3” ended it was bittersweet. Our hero was adrift in space but the war was over, the girl was saved. Gamers everywhere said bye to the Chief and wiped tears from their eyes as they set their controllers down. “Halo: Reach” was announced as Bungie’s last game but then came 343 Industries, a group of people from Bungie who weren’t done with Halo. “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary” was a nice gift for the anniversary of the beloved franchise but skepticism came about when “Halo 4” was announced. What was going to happen?
343 Industries must be staffed by the largest Halo fans from Bungie. Not only did they make an incredible game, but they made one of the greatest experiences in the Halo franchise. “Halo 4” not only sees the return of the Master Chief but one of the best stories told in the Halo games, a true love letter to the silent hero in green space armor and his shiny blue partner.
Set four years from the last installment and set on the Forerunner planet of Requiem, the Master Chief will see an evil rise from the past and set in motions a plot to eradicate human life from the universe. Pick up your battle rifles, jump in your warthog and get going.
The campaign fleshes out the two main characters who have carried the series on their backs. The Master Chief talks more in the first hour of the game than he has in the entire series thus far. Not only that but you finally get a feel for the man behind the helmet, you can almost imagine him smiling at points or showing metaphorical cracks in his armor. Cortanta especially shines, most of the emotional story telling stemming from the fact that as an A.I. she has begun to fall apart. So as not to spoil much that’s all that will be said about the story, but die hard fans will find themselves welcomed back into the franchise while new comers will be more than at home at the start of the new trilogy.
The graphics are absolutely beautiful. It’s a technological marvel that we have finally removed ourselves from the uncanny valley, Dr. Halsey’s minuscule movements in her eyes put the emotion into a character that previously only was available to real people and the crew of the UNSC Infinity, people will remember Lasky if they watched “Foward Unto Dawn”, all provide performances of cinematic proportions.
An addition to mulitplayer is the highly anticipated Spartan Ops, which features an episodic separate campaign to those with an Xbox Gold membership. It would have been nice to see this feature available to those who are stuck with Silver as they are very much worth it. Each episode is broken up into five chapters and each chapter begins with its own high budget cut scene. This doesn’t feel like a cheap add on but it effectively continues the story on the UNSC Infinity after the events of “Halo 4″‘s campaign.
There’s also plenty of additions to the classic mulitplayer as well. There are a plethora of armor unlockables as well as the ability to modify and use loadouts like other mainstream shooters of our generation. You’ll be able to pick two weapons as well as an armor add on, like those introduced in “Halo: Reach”. The game types feature plenty of classic games types as well as Flood mode, pitting Spartans against infected players, and Griff Ball, for those who are big fans of Rooster Teeth’s “Red v.s. Blue”.
To those who were worried that “Halo 4” meant change, you were right. But it is a fresh change, a good change. 343 Industries has proven themselves more than capable of providing us with a continuation of the franchise that we have all grown to love and cherish. We have a studio headed by fans like us, and we can anticipate that “Halo 5” and “Halo 6” will only give us more of what we want. The Master Chief has been given a proper reintroduction to our video game collection.