Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review: Halo 4

Halo 4
Xbox 360
Halo makes a return to the Xbox 360 with this latest installment.To be honest I had low expectations for this game since Bungie didn't develop it. Well now 343 Industries has brought Master Chief back to hold up the Xbox once again during a downturn of profits and we've all bought the game so this review is pointless isn't it? Regardless here's my review.

The story of Halo 4 kicks off 4 years after Halo 3... yeah... just about as long as you waited for this story to come. Master Chief is revived by Cortana(Now looking too attractive for the franchises own good... disturbing) on the space frigate "Forward Unto Dawn"(If you saw the web series, that was his memory and expansion of the story while in cryo sleep)because it's being invaded by the Covenant(Yes, they were defeated in Halo 3 and are now reorganised). Now Master Chief is back to kick their ass and a new enemy know as the Prometheans but I won't explain much about them because it's spoiler territory. They look like Michael Bay designed Transformers crossed with Space Pirates from Metroid! Anyway, the Prometheans are revived as well as a Forerunner who wants the extinction of humanity and it's up to you to stop them. Just another day for John 117!

The game is Halo to the power of Halo times Call Of Duty! What does that mean? The gameplay and multiplayer are the standard Halo affair but the online modes are skewed in favour of the obsessive players(who are most likely unemployed lifeless people with the social practices of crazy hermits and have all the time in the world) with custom loadouts that like in Call Of Duty, reward those who playing for longer all the best stuff and everyone else suffers! The game feels and plays like Halo Reach for the most part in the main campaign but it feels a bit muggy at first... at least it did to me.

The main campaign will last you anywhere between 8 to 10 hours(9h 33mins in Heroic difficulty for me) and has a surprising amount of care taken to both the writing and pacing. The campaign also has a few flight sections extremely similar to Halo Reach's... come to think of it this game REALLY wants to be Halo Reach! As usual the main campaign is more of a training tool for the multiplayer but it is so well fleshed out that even if you didn't play online you leave satisfied, unlike any Call Of Duty!

Speaking of the online modes, this game copies another think from Call Of Duty... Spec Ops, I mean "Spartan Ops". This is an episodic series of short missions with it's own story tagged on it that will be released over time after the release for "free"(supposedly but I think it will start free and then be paid for DLC) and support up to 4 players and can be played solo if you're friendless like me. The mode is fun overall and it earns you XP for the main online multiplayer mode and is actually Cooperative.

Before I go into the multiplayer I'll expand on the XP thing. In Halo 4 you earn XP in Spartan Ops and the online multiplayer. The XP will earn you levels for your Spartan rank similar to Halo Reach but instead of just unlocking armor pieces, you earn Spartan points per level. The SP is traded in towards your loadout options and skew combat towards the "heavily invested" player. As for the armor not all of it is unlocked with the levels you earn, some require certain commendations to be earned and once again skew towards the "heavily invested" player.

The main online multiplayer mode... oh God! What a disappointing mess! Well, at least for me.This is where the game runs shy of a perfect score in my book... Yes, it's not a 5/5 so deal with it! Ahem... anyway in the multiplayer you earn XP(explained earlier) as you play to customise loadout for the various game modes. This fair reader, is a BAD thing. Halo Reach was just so well balanced and when you sucked, it was always due to lack of skill and not starting super weapons and skills that dictated what happened. Sure like in all multiplayer, the person who plays the most is going to be better but at least Halo Reach gave everyone a chance from newbies to experts. Now new players will return the game or trade it in because the multiplayer mode is unfair(I did it with every Call Of Duty I ever played and Battlefield 3... pieces of shit!)... not exactly good business strategy!

There are a variety of game modes to play in the multiplayer but two important and fun modes were removed! If like me you loved Firefight and Invasion, you just got screwed and will probably "Remember Reach"(great marketing at Bungie there) and start playing that over this. Not many new modes but some old "favorites"(to other Halo fans) make a return. The basic team slayers are back for some good old fashion "RvB" action in teams of 4 and 8 as well as well as the Pro slayer for all your dick measuring pleasure. Oddball is back for those who like turtling a teammate to earn points or hunting the easy target. Of course the virtual paintball isn't complete without good old Capture the Flag, but this time both flags are up for grabs instead of fair gentlemanly turns like in Halo Reach. Also King of the Hill(the mode not that boring show Mike Judge did before remembering we like Beavis and Butthead) is back and nothing is different there either. Also if you want to make a custom game, Grifball is back! I suck at it but it's back baby!

The new modes are not that exciting to me but there's are a couple. Flood has 10 players and 1 of them is randomly chosen to be a Flood and the object is to either turn everyone into a Flood or ride out the time with the highest score... which will NEVER HAPPEN! Regicide is the new "Free For All" mode that has every man for themselves and one person is deemed King and has a bounty on his head, highest score wins and the king is worth extra points. Then there's Dominion... this is our Invasion consolation prize and has you taking bases and first to 600 points wins.

Like in the other Halo games, Forge is back for people who like to build there own custom extensions on the original maps or "tweak" the original maps to suit themselves. In the past people have done some crazy thing in this mode like making race tracks and obstacle course. I never really spent much time in Forge over the years but it opens the door for a lot of shenanigans.

So yeah, a lot of online multiplayer option there for those who enjoy skewed bullshit that's about as fair as putting a wolf against a pomeranian in a dog fight(I know distasteful, but it's accurate none the less).I personally think the main online modes are crap and I'll personally be back on Reach if I ever want to play online multiplayer in Halo again.

Halo 4 is overall a good game. The campaign is great and can be played with others(better with couch friends or real life friends online) for even more enjoyment and is a decent length. I really like the Spartan Ops mode and look forward to more episodes of it in the future too. As for the online multiplayer... I think I'll just stick to Halo Reach unless a friend desperately wants me to play it with them since it's so damn unbalanced and doesn't have my favourite game modes in it. If you like Call Of Duty's multiplayer, then Halo 4 is that but with power armored space marines! No matter what I say, you don't care. If I ever do play Halo 4's online multiplayer on my own again, it'll probably be Capture the Flag.

Score 4/5

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