It has been long incoming. Ever since we finished one fight at the end of Halo 3 and fell on Halo REACH, people have been wondering, what is the next evolutionary step for the franchise?
Unfortunately, Bungie would be playing no further part. It saddened us to see that the company that started one of the greatest games ever made franchises ever made has passed the helm over to 343 Industries (Interesting, as "343" is a reference to 343 Guilty Spark, one of the monitors of the Halo Installations). A lot of expectation was on this company, and so was the pressure. When Halo 4 was announced and the trailer was shown, you can only guess the reaction.
I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of Halo 4, and I must say that 343 nailed it! I must admit, at first I didn't like the Promethean weapons but after playing with them, it feels good. I've played many stages and I can go on with everything like a school girl, but we have to do it right.
- Excellent Story: With a fresh new story, 343 really had emphasis on the Forerunners. With this new evil, we got to understand that the Forerunners and the Humans were actually in a war before Halo and the Flood (hence the reason why the Humans were called "Reclaimers"). With such a smooth storyline, one can understand the significance of this new battle. It has all stuff you might want in a game; action, drama, suspense, etc. And you are basically racing against the clock since your trusty (and hotte) friend and companion AI, Cortana is...well...
- Terrain: No longer on one of the Halo Rings (though still near one), the terrain of Halo 4 can be fully explored. It was much like Halo Reach and as such, a wash of environments await. You now understand what a Forerunner planet and their structures really looked like.
- New Enemy: At first, I was wondering "Why am I fighting Elites again? Didn't we have a treaty with the Elites so that we would not fight anymore?". It so happened that they were not the Military Covanent, but a Rouge Faction covanent (much like the ones that was fought by the Arbiter back in Halo 2). Not only were we fighting against them, but a new set of enemies called "The Promethean Knights". These are more deadly than the covanent, because they are not made of tissue per se, but they were made of Data! Yes, you heard it, Data! All of the Promethian Knights are Humans that were digitized and remade for fighting (I'm guessing that the Promethean Dog knights were actually digitized dogs).
- Twisty Twist: A bit of a confusing situation was to understand the side of the Diedact (main Antaginist). One part states that he is helping, another part says that he is evil. But what may pinch you is the fact that he was exiled and imprisoned on the Planet Reqium. When released, he reveals his plans, and claims that the humans were supposed to have every other Alien species under their dominiun. Until you finish this game, you may be blank but it makes sense because you are not supposed to understand it...yet.
- Weapons and Goodies: The weapons of Halo 4 includes the new Promethian weapons. It can be seen that these weapons are a mix of human and covanent tech, as the weapons are found in both species. You can identify some of the weapons by design, and it confirms that the covanent had borrowed tech from the forerunners. For example, the Promethean Weapon "Scattershot" is actually the human "Shotgun". Found literally all over Halo, you are never out of weapons or ammo. They just keep coming! There is a weapon for everyone in Halo 4.
- New and Old Maps: As always, Halo pays homage to original maps. One of the oldest and most reused map is the Stumping ground to Halo: Blood Gulch - the Bloodiest Gulch. (This map has been remade and referenced several times: Blood Gulch (Halo 1), Coagulation (Halo 1 map "Bloodgulch" for Halo 2), Valhalla (Halo 1 map "Blood Gulch" reference in Halo 3), Hemmorage (Direct remake of Halo 1's "Blood Gulch" for Halo REACH), Ragnorak (Direct remake of the Halo 3 Map Valhalla, which references Halo 1's "Blood Gulch")). There are new maps to play with as well, so you would always have fun in multiplayer.
- AI are much smarter: This goes out to the Grunts. They actually are smarter, and sound more dangerous! For the first time, I actually felt scared of being in a dark room and hearing the grunts, as they sound now as they are out to get blood! Their accuracy has improved and can hit you at even far away distances. They still run away when they are alone or an elite or Promethean Knight gets killed, but they are more brave and had learnt their lesson since Halo 3.
The (rare case of) Bad
- Early Weapons: It was 4 years since the events of Halo 3, so one would expect the same Halo 3 weapons until they meet up with the humans. Unfortunately, the Battle Rifle and Shotgun got upgraded even before you met with the humans. We know that Cortana upgraded the firmware, but who the heck upgraded the suit and weapons? Unless it had magic elves somewhere we didn;t know about, it lost that sense of sanity...
- Andrew Del Rio is a d**k!: While we love our drama in the games, Captain Del Rio (Captain of the UNSC Frigate "Infinity") is a douche! He actually wanted to arrest the Master Chief, because he didn't want to give up Cortana. Sure, Cortana was going through rampancy but all the Chief and Cortana was trying to do was warn them of the impending danger that the Diedact was about to do. How can ANYONE (besides enemies) scream up at the Chief? The Chief can clean up every one of the people and Spartans on that ship! He has the most experience and has saved the Galaxy...TWICE! And you want to arrest him? That captain should be Court Martialled!
- I wish the Elites fought with me: Perhaps in the later Halo games we may see a comeback of the Arbiter and the normal Military Elites (Please 343, allow Keith David to be the Arbiter once more!), but for now we are dealing with the Rouge Faction. After dealing with them in REACH, fighting against them makes me feel a bit uneasy.
- Installation of Multiplayer: Can't understand the logic of this one. Over the years of Halo, wether you had one disk or 2, you can use them in the XBOX 360. However, this one you have to INSTALL multiplayer on your console, meaning you cannot play multiplayer until you intall it on the XBOX 360 and drain some space. I guess that would be for those with 250 GB hardrives.
Halo 4 has shown it's worth in the gaming community. This is a game you should DEFINATELY get in your Halo collection to continue the fight! Get in there and get enlisted for battle, Soldier! You are a SPARTAN!