(This is the part where I admit my bias and get that out of the way.)
I like Halo. A lot. I am, however, clear-headed enough to understand what’s good about the game and what’s not so great.
This is certainly the prettiest Halo so far. The set pieces are big, and the world of Requiem feels a lot like that first time you dropped onto Halo in the first game. The cut scenes are pretty great, too. 343 Industries’ decision to use motion capture for the cinematics was a good one. At one point at the beginning (there’s an interrogation scene with Dr. Halsey), I couldn’t tell for a moment whether it was live-action or motion captured. Seriously, it looked THAT good.
The gameplay, though, isn’t much different from what you’ve come to expect from Halo. You kill some dudes. You push a button. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes cut scenes are thrown in. It’s not a bad formula, but it might be getting a little stale. Though, honestly, I’m not sure what else you could do in the FPS genre.
The battles themselves are well done. Enemy groups are often overwhelmingly outnumbering, so it makes you feel like a true bad mofo when you mow them down. Ammo seems to be at a premium, but that forces you to constantly scavenge for weapons and make the hard decision between keeping your awesome weapon or grabbing a gun with lots of ammo.
Vehicle sections are always fun, but often too short. I really hate having to arbitrarily abandon a vehicle because I can’t boost up onto a platform that the Master Chief can easily bounce up to.
The story is what really keeps me interested, though. But, a lot of the larger plot is thrown at you quickly, and I would have liked it to come a bit slower, so I’d know exactly what’s going on. I’m behind on the books, so that would’ve been really nice.
The more intimate story of the relationship between Cortana and the Master Chief is great! It’s interesting to me how human the relationship between the giant cyborg and his computer girlfriend is.
The campaign is great fun. For the most fun, I suggest playing it co-op. I’m having a great time playing through the game with my wife.
If the continuing story of the Master Chief got me to buy the game, multiplayer is what keeps me coming back. War Games is your typical shoot-other-Spartans-in-the-head goodness that you’ve come to expect…with a few new twists (Unless you’ve been playing Call of Duty for the last five years, that is).
At the beginning of your multiplayer career, your options are extremely limited in regard to your custom loadout, your character model design, and even your custom badge. As you level up, however, you gain Spartan levels and Spartan points. Spartan points are used to purchase stuff for your custom loadouts: guns, armor abilities, tactical bonuses. Spartan levels determine what armor your can wear, how many custom loadouts you can have, and what logos you can have plastered to your armor.
Even with all the custom stuff (and tactical bonuses), I’ve found nothing yet that is unbalancing about the matches. Even at level one, I had little trouble blasting apart combatants on the opposite team as I ran to capture their flag. In other words, skill still matters more in Halo than finding power weapons.
Speaking of power weapons, when you kill enough enemies, you are able to call in a weapon drop. It’s a nice little feature that helps keep everyone in the game. Power weapons are also randomly dropped around the map, and a blip on your HUD will tell you where they dropped. I like this feature because it de-emphasizes map memorization and keeps the battles interesting.
All-in-all, I really like War Games, and can’t wait to sink some serious time into it.
Infinity Multiplayer – Spartan Ops
I got a little sad when I heard that Firefight wasn’t going to make it into the game, but I think Spartan Ops fills the niche nicely. It’s a cool idea: Every week, 343 drops another episode of their Spartan Ops story on you, and with it comes five mini-missions. You can play them either solo or co-op. I’ve only played through them on solo, but I’m betting that co-op is the way to go with these.
Some of the missions resemble an objective-based firefight, and I like that. It scratches the itch for just raining wanton destruction on the bad guys.
Since it’s only the first week, there’s not a whole lot else I can say about it. I look forward into seeing what the story turns into.
I’m surprised that Halo 4 came out on the Xbox 360, but I’m glad that it did. I’m sure Halo 5 will be on the next generation of Xbox. Though the graphics are starting to look a little dated, especially up close, this is one good-looking game. We’ve come a long way since Halo 3. A long, long way.
So, my recommendation is to buy this game! Get some friends together either in-person or on Xbox Live, and go to town shooting dudes. It’s a ton of fun. I’ll be dropping a lot of time into this game.
And if you want someone to play with, you can always become my Xbox Live buddy! Gamertag: Spumis