In an era where First Person Shooters are a dime-a-dozen it takes gusto to stick out, gamers know this. With titles like: Gears of War, Call of Duty, Resistance, or Medal of Honor among others it is hard to be a shadow caster but, in my opinion, the Halo franchise has always brought more to the table… always. Since 2001 Halo has been defining and redefining FPS games and is arguably the best (with the only competition being the Call of Duty series) franchise all-around in terms of challenging gameplay, story quality, and competitive multiplayer.
With that being said, Halo 4 has some pretty big shoes to fill as far as expectations go and it didn’t fall short on any (in my opinion). All the things that needed to change did and all the appealing aspects were left either untouched or tweaked in an innovative way. The biggest change was development by a new studio (343 industries steps in to replace series creators bungie studios), which at first for any game is intimidating, but once you get past that hurdle you begin to see the paradise that was crafted for you. So far I think Halo 4 is shaping up to be the best game in the series and I`m here to give my review of it.
Part 1- The Campaign
Halo 4 marks a new beginning in Halo cannon, when we last saw Master Chief he was battling an 7.62×39 bulk ammo intergalactic war with a collective of alien races known as the Covenant while also fighting to contain a parasitic, hive-mind intelligence called the flood. Well that battle is over and done with and Master Chief has been floating somewhere in space, in cryo sleep on a derelict ship, for some 8 years until he is awoken by a group of covenant scavenging his ship over a mysterious artificial planet known as a shield-world (gosh… talk about run on sentence… There is a lot to bring you up to speed on).
Now I really don’t want to go into specifics on the storyline for many reasons(you’d think it would be in the interest being spoiler free, no, it is mainly because my summary wouldn’t be able to do the game the justice it deserves), but suffice to say that the story doesn’t lack intensity, pacing, depth, and development. For the first time in the series we see John 117 at his most human. Beneath the main storyline which sets up 343’s much anticipated “Reclaimer Trilogy” is the personal story of Cortana and our favorite SPARTAN-II, which to me was almost more interesting than the game’s main story-arc antagonist– an ancient and exiled forerunner known as The Didact. (cough cough the one who fired the halo array some 100,000 years ago cough cough)
For me it was just refreshing that the resetting of the stage allowed room for an introspective look at the man behind the mask. The cannon of Halo and the whole ethical side of the SPARTAN-II project is what originally attracted me to halo (technically it was the multiplayer matchmaking at first for me, but after that it was the books I swear) and I`m just glad that you get to see that side of the universe explored. You finally get to tone down the story from an epic scale to a more personal level. You also get a glimpse at the toll these skirmishes are taking on our main character. After all, I’m a big fan of science fiction and downtime moments in stories. It’s where characters can breath and just be who they are without sacrificing the pacing of the story, just those little details fascinate me.
I’m a fan of storytelling in general and this new trilogy will take what we know and turn it upside down. I’m just left wondering a few things like: 1. Were the Forerunners actually the peaceful and responsible race we were lead to believe they were, and 2. What that does this new threat mean for the galaxy and especially the peace between Humanity and the Covenant? Either way, after completing the campaign I was left with the desire of wanting more, which is a refreshing sign of a well planted seed. In my opinion a good story will have you walking away with questions and answers only the theater of the mind can explain.