Ever since the 2011 E3 reveals of the continuation of Master Chief’s adventures, questions were asked about the ability of developer 343 studios to maintain the lofty standards of series creator Bungie. Alongside this, there was fervent anticipation surrounding the continuation of the story of the Xbox’s flagship character. After the strong swansong of Bungie and Halo: Reach, could Halo 4 rise to the occasion and continue the tradition of excellent Halo games?
Yup. Halo 4 is Halo through and through. 343 could be criticised for playing it safe, and sticking fairly closely to the template left by Bungie, but do the reverse and they would have found themselves in an unenviable position of ignoring all the good work that came before them
I loved Halo: Reach, but Halo 4 wasn’t on my radar until I continually heard nothing but positive preview comments on a variety of sites and podcasts. My interest was piqued.
This is one of if not the best looking game on the 360, and the sound design, from ambient music to the sound of each of the three races weapons, is highly immersive.
Okay, the narrative is very often incomprehensible and obtuse, but it does try to humanise both Master Chief and Cortana, but the moment to moment game play, the need to drive on and engage in the next combat encounter, is something that Halo has always been good, and whilst the enemy AI might not be as well realised at that realised by Bungie, it still feels much better than every other shooter on the market.
And there is multiplayer. Halo has always felt to me like the most balanced and fair of all the major franchises. COD requires time and leveling, Gears requires practice of its slightly slower mechanics. Halo always felt to me as more of a level playing field. Yes, a more experienced player will always destroy me, but essentially, the open and expansive maps, the variety of weapons and vehicles as well as the profusion of objectives all work together to ensure I am having fun. The one improvement that 343 have taken from the all-pervasive COD model is an increased level of customisation and load out flexibility, a move that has only added to Halo’s desirability.
Halo 4, a game that was always going to sell well regardless, but delivered both critically and also dispelled any doubts that Halo fanatics may have had about the future of the franchise. Solid, dependable and reliable – a little like Master Chief himself.