Monday, November 5, 2012

REVIEW - Halo 4 - Campaign (360)

Possibly no game in recent memory has had higher expectations placed upon it than Halo 4. Since its inception, the Halo franchise was the baby of Bungie Studios. Under that banner, the series defined first person shooters and console gaming as a whole. Now that Bungie has moved on to other things, it has been adopted by 343 Industries. Is there any way 343 can live up to that kind of lineage?

At the very least, these folks get Halo.

You may have Finished the Fight, but all is not at peace in the Halo universe. After a stunningly rendered cutscene, it is revealed that new danger is afoot. The Chief wakes up after a 4+ year long beauty sleep to discover the Covenant has dissolved the truce that once united them against a greater foe, and a mysterious planet beckoning them to discover its secrets. What follows from there is a tale of terminals, signals, Forerunners, artifacts, ancient prophecies and shooting. Lots and lots of shooting.

Here is the new Tostitos® Rifle in action.

 While that's all well and good, the real heart of the narrative is the love story between guy and "girl".  From the very beginning of the series, Master Chief and Cortana have been inseparable (except for the times when they were separated, of course). Upon waking from his slumber the Chief is warned that Cortana is past the age when AIs go rampant, a terminal condition whereon they go a little crazy and must be destroyed or face thinking themselves to death. Master Chief is obviously having none of that shit. He desperately wants to save his best friend even as the universe faces catastrophe

It's a far more personal story than we've seen from the series until now, and we learn more about both characters than any previous game has allowed us. It's heartbreaking watching this character many of us have literally grown up with facing death, and we want the Chief to succeed as much as anybody.

Plus she got a sweet-ass boob job. So...ya know. Can't let that go to waste.

 Helping capture the emotion these characters are feeling is some much improved facial animation tech. Finally there's characters that are more than cardboard faced mannequins with quivering lip flaps. 

Traditionally, the textures in the Halo games are far from the best in show, but the games impress with great lighting and a massive sense of scale. That's no different with this game, but the textures are a step above anything the series has seen thus far. The game still has the same problem of  textures not loading fast enough or becoming blurry messes as you move away from them however. 

 Fortunately , Halo 4 continues the tradition of outstanding art design. Colorful in a way most other games of this generation tend not to be, Halo 4 electrifies with sleek futuristic architecture and  breathtaking vistas.

Just look at this shit!

The sound design is equally impressive. The guns sound unique, the vehicles roar and whine their way through the environments, the explosions ring out with authority and the voice acting feels sincere. Jen Taylor in particular must be recognized for her mournful, emotional portrayal of Ms. Cortana. If I wasn't so exceptionally manly, I could have cried along with her.

The music in this game, as much as anything, was anticipated with a measure of reservation. Marty O’Donnell's scores exemplified the Halo experience. Neil Davidge attempts to bring his own style to the mix here - a more electronic and atmospheric blend, and while it's not a bad attempt, it doesn't resonate nearly as much as previous soundtracks. It doesn't so much define the action as it does describe it.

The man must be given credit for his rad hair though.

One thing that hasn't changed is the gameplay. That may sound like a criticism, but when a game series had arguably perfected its genre over 10 years ago, there's not much room to move but sideways. There was some fear that 343 would cave to the pressure of including modern popular FPS tropes. It's wrongly assumed by some that a first person shooter needs iron sights and linear shooting gallery stages these days. Luckily, 343 knows what Halo's strengths are. Battles are massive in scale with plenty of room to tackle any situation anyway you see fit, and all manner of vehicles serve to break up the shooting just when its needed.

Not that there aren't some new things in here. The oft spoken of but never seen Forerunners feature prominently in this game, and there's all sorts of Forerunner tech at your disposal. Most of the Forerunner weapons are just equivalents of the old Human and Covenant standbys, but they look way more badass, so let's call this one a win.

Also deserving a mention is the new Mantis armor mech. You don't get a ton of time in the campaign to see this baby do its thing, but this ED-209 looking sumbitch is so awesome that every moment feels special.

"Please step away from the Warthog. You have 20 seconds to comply."

This game feels like Halo, and with a lot of people worried over even that, this game can be considered a great success. It may not be the best campaign in the series, but Halo 4 gives a damn persuasive argument for the continuation of the Halo story.


  1. The game you are describing is basically the game I expected, I suppose - so no surprises there.

    I do perhaps think you rate the halo fps mechanics a little highly, but I guess it's a matter of taste (unreal is more my style).

    Nice review.

  2. Finally, something worth reading on this POS blog.

    Very nicely done. For the first time, I'm actually excited about Halo 4 after reading that.

  3. I so wish I could buy this game. Loved Reach (didn't play much Halo before it)... Money is tight. Stupid necessary car.
    Come payday I'm buying this bitch.

    Pity payday is 3 (ish) weeks away... TT TT

  4. Gorilla With Hardened Wax On NipplesNovember 5, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    I didn't read any of this shit, here. I'm going to the store to buy refills for my glade dispenser.

  5. Good review, although it needed more tits

  6. Hm, so more of the same Halo. I guess I'll just go back and play Reach, so I can see Master Chief die again.

  7. Hm, the last picture. It's Metal Gear-209