Halo 4 Review

Warning: Halo 4 is an exclusive for Xbox 360.The ending of Halo 3 turned out to be quite sad: the main hero of the series – Master Chief – gets into a military jeep and directs it towards an abandoned rescue ship to leave the planet engulfed in flames. The invaders retreat, the fire subsides, all the deceased are mourned and buried – after that, peace reigns in space again, and the popular trilogy from Microsoft seems to be going down in history. At the same time, the developer of the first three parts of the game (Bungie), having fulfilled their obligations under the contract with the publisher, separates from Microsoft and starts working on new projects to prove to the whole world and themselves, first and foremost, that Halo – the cult shooter for the Xbox 360 console – is not their last work.

Intense Halo Action

Although, if you dig deeper, it turns out that Master Chief simply had nowhere to go on the ship he ended up on. This soldier has no own home where a loving wife would be waiting for him; no cozy garden in the backyard of such a house where he could gather his thoughts and think about the future; nor does he have a son whom he could teach to throw plasma balls during games on the lawn of the garden. If you take off this soldier’s uniform and take away all his weapons, he might remember that his real name is John. But camouflage has long become an extension of Chief himself, and humanity and peaceful life are completely unknown to him. This person has turned into a silent universal soldier, who came in handy during the intergalactic armed crisis. And when the conflict was exhausted, there was no longer a need for Master Chief’s services. And so, waiting for new battles, he fell into hibernation on a forgotten ship, watched over by his only friend and comrade – a girl named Cortana, who is an Artificial Intelligence.

Five years have passed – an eternity in terms of computer games – and all the glory today is being reaped by the Modern Warfare series from Activision, while Halo is sliding down in popularity ratings, risking being irretrievably forgotten. Once again, the Halo galaxy is in danger – which means that it is time for the old hero to unsheathe his sword again. The time for Halo 4 has come, and Cortana brings Master Chief back to reality, awakening him.

But despite the fact that this lonely fighter (who, by the way, can replace a whole army if necessary) has a new mission, the lack of humanity still takes its toll. It turns out that in a game where the main goal is to save the universe, strangely enough, there are no people to be saved, showing their humane qualities. But there is an abundance of those who need to be completely destroyed: this time they have taken the form of Prometheans. This is a hostile race, represented by bipedal insect-like warriors and exploding robot dogs, who fight depending on the circumstances either for or against the eternal enemies of the Halo universe – the Covenant.

Master Chief's Quest

Presented in three main types, these creatures embody the best combat tactics for which the series is famous. Combining flight and teleportation abilities in the new enemy race, the new game developer – 343 Industries – shows us that the boundaries of the Halo universe will now be significantly expanded. And before us will appear a world full of new types of weapons, in which the already wide arsenal of deadly inventions will be supplemented with secret devices of the Prometheans. And what about the people who need to be saved from the cruel invaders? As we said, you will hardly encounter peaceful population in the new game.

You can try to save yourself. But death occurs so often here that your chances of getting by without constantly using saves are rapidly approaching zero. You can save your fellow soldiers – nameless marines who act as cannon fodder and accompany you from time to time in battles. But the benefit of their presence sometimes turns out to be so little that the desire to get a bullet for such miserable helpers somehow disappears by itself.

And after that, a logical question arises in your head: “Why?”. When the only people you have to meet during your wanderings between the Pillar of Autumn ship and the Outpost base are only the highest military command and scientists who do not even inspire the slightest trust, then where, tell me, can motivation come from to accomplish military feats? Why not simply – without a fight – hand over the reins of power to the invaders in these mountains of space junk, empty planets, and abandoned ships? In any case, even if you set a goal, there will not be a single living soul around who would protest against such a course of events.

Battles in the Future

And, as Halo scriptwriters have done more than once, the answer will help us find Cortana – this immaculate maiden with artificial intelligence, embodying the bright side of Master Chief. Her unwavering voice always informed us about the events of the Halo world, accompanying players through time and space travels. Literally at every step, she gave us hints and explanations in unfamiliar situations. But most importantly, thanks to her, we at least heard a human voice in the lifeless space filled only with explosions and death.

Cortana is dying. More precisely, she is gradually “losing it,” experiencing something like Alzheimer’s disease, but for Artificial Intelligence. Her degradation, brilliantly voiced by actress Jen Taylor in the English version, essentially gives the game its main meaning. So, you need to save Cortana. But in the end, it turns out that it is Cortana herself who is destined to save the Halo universe in Halo 4. She gives meaning to the story, where you are assigned the role of a mindless mechanism to save people who do not exist. Cortana at least somehow answers the question “Why?” while the entire vast game plot simply remains silent on this matter.

The four-year hiatus between parts of the series will result in not only the loss of Master Chief’s only friend for us. The world is no longer a closed box, and therefore the philosophy of Halo has been influenced by Modern Warfare. This is felt right from the beginning when you try to crawl to the elevator shaft of the collapsing ship Forward Unto Dawn, dodging flying projectiles with the help of QTE prompts. This influence is also noticeable in Master Chief’s standard armor, which now resembles Sam Fisher’s shiny suit. The gameplay mechanics have also changed: now, during jumps, the weight of the main character is hardly felt, but during running, his steps echo heavily, indicating that he is not really weightless. Tactical elements have appeared in multiplayer, becoming available after achieving the necessary series of consecutive kills. And the additional abilities perfectly illustrate the influence of Infinity Ward’s successful product on the Halo series. Even the classic controls, to which we are so accustomed, have undergone changes in favor of Modern Warfare: now, to aim, you will need to press the left trigger of the joystick.

Epic Alien Encounters

But fortunately, the resemblance to Modern Warfare is only occasional, and for the most part, Halo 4 by 343 Industries is still the same old good Halo, familiar and dear to us thanks to Bungie. It is a beautiful game where there is no place for dazzling bright colors, which the previous year’s Combat Evolved remake suffered from. Starting from lush green foliage to steep bronze mountains, Requiem – the planet where most of the game’s events take place – pleases us with diverse and picturesque landscapes. The Halo world has never looked so good and harmonious. The gameplay also pleases us with familiar and enjoyable features. Like before, the problem of which weapon to take and which to leave is solved by the game’s limitation to only two guns, and the intensity of attacks and retreats is determined by the shield charge level. All these are the old familiar tricks of Halo in their original form. And it is for them that we love it.

However, the tasks you have to complete do not go beyond the usual. Most of the game time will be spent driving from one location to another in order to press a few very important buttons and destroy the shield generator. Such tasks often come to you in multiples, artificially increasing the duration of the relatively short campaign. The desire of 343 Industries to imitate Bungie is so strong that there is simply no room for any significant innovations in the new game. Perhaps the best embodiment of something new after the Prometheans and their guns can be the bipedal robot Mantis, controlled by a person from the inside. But still, the new developer cannot deviate from the well-known manner of storytelling, in most cases repeating old elements and only occasionally expanding the game with their own innovations (at least in the single-player campaign).

But the multiplayer mode follows Microsoft’s clear directive:popularize Halo in the professional gaming arenaFrom now on, the correct choice of the preset mode has become more important than ever: the amount of weapons that can be used during battles has significantly decreased. However, thanks to good performances and earned rating points, new guns, abilities, and armor properties will become available to your character, allowing you to immediately feel the advantage of a certain skill (for example, accelerating for a very long time or setting up a defensive turret). Without a doubt, the multiplayer of the new Halo has moved away from the traditions of the series towards more trendy tendencies. And this will become even more noticeable when dedicated players start unlocking more and more new abilities for their characters as they achieve success in multiplayer.

Unrelenting Battles

The cooperative mode Spartan Ops – another “hello” from Modern Warfare – embodied the most ambitious aspirations of Halo 4 for the appearance of small, adrenaline-filled additions. Each new series of unrelated fifteen-minute missions, designed for up to four players, will be released weekly for the next few months. Each chapter is accompanied by a short film that complements its plot. The game’s release copy will immediately have five such additional missions available. This time, the enthusiasm of cooperative lovers will not cool down with rewards for completing missions and long-term goals that carry over from one series to another. While not supernatural, these missions play a very important role in the game. Thus, 343 Industries shows the presence of new trends in Halo and a departure from the familiar traditions of the Halo series.

At the end of the Halo 4 campaign, after the final credits, 343 Industries included a short message. In it, the company thanks the fans for entrusting them with their beloved universe and asks them not to forget that everything is just beginning for them. This message seems to express hidden concerns about whether we understood the responsible task that 343 Industries had to deal with when they took on the role of continuing the saga of Master Chief.

But now the guys can breathe a sigh of relief. Halo 4 turned out to be a sufficiently original game, showing us that the role of the developer in this project was much more than just releasing another part of a well-known series. Although 343 Industries’ work was more focused on continuing the story than expanding the game’s boundaries, fans should appreciate it. Halo has finally returned – and isn’t that a reason to be happy?!

Halo 4
Xbox 360
Action, Co-op, Multiplayer
Microsoft Studios
343 Industries
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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