Staff Writer: Nathaniel Brayton
Studio: 343 Industries
Taking over one of the most beloved video game franchises of all time is almost an impossible task, which makes 343 Industries’ installment, Halo 4, a truly amazing accomplishment. The best compliment this game can receive is that nothing feels different after the Bungie era, and Halo 4 earns that compliment with this return to fashion. Halo 4 harkens back to the days of old when wonder and amazement were the routine of the Halo universe.
Halo 4 picks up where Halo 3 left off, on Forward Unto Dawn, where Master Chief wakes up from his cryosleep. Quickly, Mater Chief and Cortana, his AI counterpart, find themselves battling both old and new foes, including an ancient Forerunner race who makes the Flood look friendly. The Chief is also in a race to save Cortana, as she has become ‘rampant’, a state when AIs become old and start to think themselves to death. Yeah, just a normal day in the life of Master Chief.
I can honestly say that Halo 4 has the most visually stunning graphics that I have seen on my Xbox, proving that there is still life to pull from this generation of consoles. This game pushes the hardware to the limits. Level after level, another massive environment emerges, exhausting the players’ imagination. And even though there is a set path the player must follow, the spaces are immersive and feel tangible.
The strength of Halo 4 lies with the relationship and story of Cortana and Master Chief. Cortana struggles to keep sane, as her programming goes haywire, while at the same time helping Master Chief save humanity. Their love for each other is greatly emphasized, which takes the emotional connection for Halo to another level. Competing equally, the story of the Forerunners and the history of battling the Flood was just as excellently scripted and engrossing.
My only complaint with Halo 4 is that in-between the awesome story cut-scenes, the player is handed meaningless, trivial tasks. However, this is very common with all the Halo games. Most of the time, the player is turning on or off switches, destroying technology, or clearing areas. While these tasks do the job to make an easy transition, I wish there was a little more creativity and significance with my goals in the game.
I haven’t even talked about the multiplayer yet, which is also exceptional. The Halo 4 multiplayer takes me back to Halo 2, which showed how much fun playing games online could be. I think there is a quality that Halo possesses, which makes it slightly more fun to play than games like Call of Duty, but I just can’t put my finger on it. However, I am investing significant amounts of time to playing online. And with the new additional content in the form of Sparton Ops, Halo 4 delivers big bang for its buck.
In all, Halo 4 is an exceptional game. It shows off many key aspects that make the spectacle of gaming important: visuals, story-telling, and multiplayer. However, above all, Halo 4 is a game that is fun to play and fits into the Halo universe seamlessly.