Game Acclaim: Halo 4
By Jared MaherPosted Nov 13, 2012
In the past, the chronicling of Master Chief’s efforts to protect humanity lacked one element: humanity. The faceless protagonist’s robotic temperament helped build Chief’s persona as an unemotional killing-machine, but rendered him less relatable than his AI companion, Cortana.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The sci-fi universe that has been built and expanded upon throughout the original trilogy offered more than enough plot and backstory to make playing the Halo games an engrossing experience. Now, however, as Cortana nears her expiration date and both her and Chief are forced to come to grips with their own mortalities, the series sees a powerful enhancement in its storytelling capabilities with the added ingredients of emotion and drama. If you didn’t play Halo for the campaign before, now would be a great time to start.
But Halo didn’t make a name for itself because of its captivating plot. Winning gameplay and intensely fun multiplayer have always been the series’ staples that kept its millions of fans coming back for every installment, and Halo 4 does not disappoint. The first few moments of blasting through waves of Covenant forces feel immediately familiar, but a ways into the campaign, you’ll encounter the Prometheans who bring an entirely new tier of weapons to the table and add some new flair to the established franchise.
There’s a Promethean counterpart for every human and Covenant weapon. My favorite thus far is the Scattershot, the Promethean shotgun which fires a spread of bullets that ricochet off of walls, making it deadly at close range and in tight digs. The Promethean version of the sniper rifle, the Binary Rifle, is another good one, with a small clip size but huge damage potential.
Halo 4’s gameplay isn’t a far cry from its predecessors even with the new guns, but the tweaks made to the multiplayer do distinguish it to a moderate degree. Spartan Ops is essentially 343 Studios’ take on Call of Duty’s Special Ops, allowing you to play through brief skirmishes with the help of your buddies. An episode of Spartan Ops will drop each week, with each one including a quick cut-scene that gives it the feel of a side campaign. The battles are all short-lived, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the overall value of the Halo 4 package.
Competitive multiplayer has seen a few changes of its own, with the character personalization we’ve come to expect in most modern shooters. Players can tailor their character’s weapons, nades, and abilities to their liking, and even give them some CoD-like perks. Within the actual battles, players also have a new ability to call in ordnance drop pods. These bring you armaments of many types, including more powerful weapons and additional perks.
Though it’s a bit surprising to see the influence of Call of Duty creep its way into a game as distinct as Halo, the new additions work well with the original formula that really propelled first-person shooters to mainstream audiences in the first place. Halo 4 exceeds all expectations of its signature multiplayer ensemble, and does so to an even greater degree with the campaign. Although I’ve not even nearly gotten my fill of Master Chief and his exploits, I’m already looking forward to the next two parts of the new Halo trilogy.