Master Chief is really a girl, Cortana’s real name is Sheila, and the main villain is Chuck Norris!
JK JK JK JK JK JK JK
Those all are completely wrong (however the last one is not too far off) but as a little review trivia, can you figure out what I was referencing? Halo and shooter fans comment below! (hint: the last one is pretty obvious)
Now onto my very SPOILER-FREE review:
“If you like it, then you shouldn’t put a ring on it.” Beyoncé, you couldn’t have spoken truer words. With the beginning of a brand new trilogy with a brand new studio, 343 Industries went with a much different setting for Master Chief and Cortana’s return. Instead of the classic Halo adventure, (though there is a ring glimpsed for a few seconds) Halo 4 is set on the ancient Forerunner planet of Requiem. For our literary fans, myself included, the definition of Requiem is a hymn, composition, or mass for the dead. Hmm interesting. With that definition in mind, playing through this game you will probably see why this planet is aptly named so.
Needless to say, you don’t have to be a Halo lore expert to get the backstory as there are 7 terminals spread throughout 7 of the 8 missions you will embark on through the course of the campaign. I’ll go ahead and let you know that there is no terminal on mission 1 so don’t waste an hour looking for one like I did. The reason I went ahead and started out by telling you about the hidden terminals is because this is the only bad thing I have to say about the game. Once you’ve found a terminal, you must get out of the game and go to the Halo Waypoint app to access them. This literally takes you out of the game.
Let me advise something. Keep YouTube open as you play and watch the videos there because the terminal videos should be mandatory to watch. The reason being, is they tell not only the backstory of the Forerunners but more importantly, the relationship between two of the main characters in the game. For 343 to force you to go to another app to watch such an important part of the storyline, sounds like a very gimmicky marketing decision to me. But again, that is the only thing I found wrong with this game.
Gameplay-wise, this is the Halo you know and love. But better. Yes, I said it. The sound of each gun, grenade, vehicle, and even sword sounds completely new, revamped, and great. Hearing these weapons, you’ll quickly forget what that old Battle Rifle and DMR once sounded like. The changes don’t stop there though. Each bullet, missile, and charge will pack a punch, having you truly feel like you’re actually blowing that banshee to smithereens. There are even some improvements over the controls, mainly being the fact that everyone has sprint and you will no longer have that added on as a wasted armor ability.
Speaking of which, there are a number of new abilities, (sorry armor lock is gone) including the Promethean vision which will allow you to see through walls to find enemies and allies. On the enemies side of things, the Covenant are still fanatics and those nasty Flood are finally gone!
In their place are the new enemies, the Prometheans. Boasting three basic types with their own variants, the Crawlers, Watchers, and Knights are the most exciting enemies I’ve fought in any of the games. The Crawlers are weak but are super fast and will swarm you in packs, the Watchers are even weaker but can shield and resurrect fallen allies (kill these guys first if seen), and the Knights are even more powerful than an Elite, being able to teleport quickly to you for a melee kill but they also have very powerful weapons which you can pick up as well. These new Promethean weapons are great additions to the already large arsenal to choose from. Despite them all being counterparts to the human and Covenant versions, they each have a unique trait that set them apart and some may become your new favorite weapon.
On the story side, you will be engrossed and immersed into a story that you will care about. While there is a villain to defeat, Cortana is the main star. AI’s go crazy after 7 years and she is now 8 years old. It is Master Chief’s job this time to be the calm, cool, and collected one in search of a cure for Cortana’s rampancy. The story has a few surprises and many memorable moments, including an ending that definitely sets up the trilogy to be the Halo trilogy to remember. Just to whet your appetite, the first of the last mission is a huge reference to a classic scene from a popular movie that happens to also have a 4 beside it, hint hint.
Past the campaign, more story can be found even in the multiplayer. You still have your competitive multiplayer, now known as War Games. You play as one of the many trainee Spartans aboard the UNSC Infinity, which you will recognize from the main campaign. The War Games act as a training ground for Spartans from all over the world to test their skills and rank up in all your familiar game modes, along with some new ones. Territories and Infection are gone, with Dominion and Flood in their place.
They are fantastic improvements and don’t get worried, this is the only place the Flood exist in the entire game. Which, by the way, that mode can actually be pretty scary at times (yes I played it at 2 a.m. in the dark). There are still challenges daily, weekly, and even monthly for you to complete for tons of XP. There are even challenges for the campaign itself this time around. Speaking of XP, you level up much faster this time and there are tons of unlockables and customization options to choose from. Once you’ve reached Spartan Rank (SR) 50, you unlock 8 Specialization classes to choose from that will give you extra abilities. These classes each have 10 extra levels for you to level up to.
There are even two support mod slots to add to your armor that can speed up shield recharge, even increase your mini map’s range, etc. You even have your own customizable loadouts for games, (though some modes like Flood have predetermined loadouts) including the ability unlock some of the Promethean weapons to start each match with. The game comes with 13 maps that vary in size, with really none of them being all that bad. They are all good in their own ways, several of which will quickly become classics such as Ragnarok, the remake of Halo 3’s amazing Valhalla map, which comes with the uber powerful new Mantis Mech. Weapon respawns actually vary each time you play so there is no guarantee you’ll get that rocket launcher even if you know the whole map.
New to the franchise are Ordinances, Halo’s version of care packages from the Call of Duty series. Earn enough points and you get the choice between three options, which could be a weapon or an ability like super speed or overshield. The points themselves are much more varied this time around. No longer does a team win based on kills and no longer do you really only get points for assists and kills. This time around, you’ll get points for even random stuff such as throwing the oddball (also a new ability) to a teammate and they catch or just simply being a distraction (which I’m the best at by the way).
On the cooperative side, you of course have the option to go through the campaign with up to three friends but Firefight from ODST, Reach, and Anniversary is now gone. Don’t be worried as I personally didn’t notice a difference. In its place is another story-based Infinity mode entitled Spartan Ops. The mode follows several teams of Spartans several months after the end of the campaign, which I advise you play through first because it does somewhat spoil one part of the ending. Spartan Ops plays out almost like an interactive TV series.
Each week for the next 10 weeks, an episode will be released composed of several chapters for you to complete alongside 3 friends (or less) along with at least one cinematic CGI clip that will set up the episode that week. This first week there are 5 chapters in episode 1 and I completed it roughly under an hour so while it is short, you are guaranteed free DLC each week for the next 10 weeks! You will probably replay several of the chapters as they offer the most XP out of all the multiplayer modes.
This is a lot and Halo does ship on 2 discs but you won’t have to swap out all the time because it requires a one-time mandatory installation of multiplayer onto disc 1. Microsoft said that it requires 8 GB, however I deleted a lot on my 20 gig Xbox to have 8 GB free but when I installed, it only took 3.4 GB. That doesn’t mean later on with Spartan Ops or something else that you won’t need the other 4 GB Microsoft mentioned. A side note, when tested to try to install the disc on a 4 GB Xbox, it wouldn’t let us install it so it is recommended you use a flash drive if you have a 4 GB or less.
There’s something I must have left out…hmm what was it? Oh yeah! Graphics. Let me tell you this is not only the best looking Halo yet, but it truly pushes the Xbox 360 to it’s limits to be, in my opinion, the greatest looking game you’ll find on the 360. There was only one tiny moment in the entire game, just one small area, where the texture took a second to load. Albeit, it was a large surrounding area with many enemies, allies, and vehicles but even so, the ground looked fine even without the texture fully loaded yet and that’s saying something. The lighting, the environments, the cutscenes all will have you in awe. The first moment you step onto Requiem will have you reminiscing of the first time you stepped onto the ring on Halo 1, only this time I believed that I truly was Master Chief.
- New studio, new direction, new is everywhere
- Story is the best so far
- Graphics are orgasms for your eyes
- An actual villain with a worthy backstory
- Will be playing multiplayer until Halo 5 comes out
- Master Chief has never looked sexier in that armor and Cortana is the hottest AI in the galaxy
- Terminals being optional and only accessible through Halo Waypoint
- Uhh when does Halo 5 come out…?
Should you buy it?
If you haven’t bought it yet, then you are either broke, crazy, or don’t own a PS3. Otherwise go get it now! And if you do fall into one of those categories, come over to my place because I will be playing Halo 4 until 5 comes out.
Sorry, Bungie. I’m happy for you and all and Ima let ya finish Destiny, but 343 made the greatest Halo of all time. Of all time.
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