Halo 4 is a perfect reminder of how much of a masterpiece the original Halo was. The only question is, has Halo 4 improved upon the masterpiece that was the original, where so many sequels have failed?
Somehow, someway, 343 Studios has done just that. Not only is this their first game within the Halo franchise, it’s their first game – period. To think that they’ve managed to recapture and even improve upon the winning formula of the first Halo game, on their first try, is simply astonishing.
Indeed, Microsoft spending more money on the game than America’s national defense budget certainly had its effects, but one can merely look to Star Wars: The Old Republic and see that just throwing money at a game isn’t enough to make it magnificent. So what makes Halo 4 just so, well, magnificent? To better understand that, it’s best to look into the past.
What made the original Halo so spectacular, was its introduction of each enemy type. Everyone remembers the first time they fought Hunters, or the first time they learned how to properly kill an Elite on legendary.
What Halo 4 does so well, is that it re-imagines that first Halo play through, by largely doing away with your old friends and introducing brand new baddies to do battle with.
And just like that, you’re no longer going through the motions of using your refined strategies to dispatch your foes mercilessly while manically laughing.
Now you’re back to experimenting with every weapon there is (of which, there are many) to try and find which weapons and tactics are best when dealing with this new race.
While facing the Prometheans, it became painfully apparent why it is that most shooters are boring me to tears. Killing Russians and Terrorists is as easy as a few bullets to the chest, but when dealing with Halo’s brutal AI and unique tactics, each battle becomes an orchestra that you must conduct with flawless rhythm.
Passive or aggressive, each easily identified alien must be taken out with different play styles and strategies.
There’s a certain bliss to organically changing your tactics in a drastic manner, depending on how the battle is flowing and who you’re fighting.
It’s fun to kill target A with weapon Z, only to toss weapon Z in favor of target A’s weapon, because target B just deployed onto the battlefield, and target A’s weapon is perfect for taking them down. This flow continues on and on until you’re left victorious, your heels on the skulls of your fallen foes.
My only complaint about this, is that weapons “disappear” from the ground far too quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve strategically placed weapons around the battlefield, planning to pick them up the moment I need them again; only to find them no longer there. This made my multi-step tactical planning feel very unrewarding, but it’s a minor complaint at best.
While the gameplay is certainly the highlight of Halo 4, there is much to be said about the setting and story. Like most Halo games, the scenery is so much more beautiful than your average corridor shooter extravaganza. The area for fighting is generally much larger, enabling you to take on multiple tactical roles as you see fit.
Want to hijack a ghost with an EMP blast from your plasma pistol? Done. Want to headshot a grunt and grab his fuel rod cannon to start unloading explosive death upon friend and foe alike? Done.
Alternatively, perhaps, snipin’ is more your style – that can be accommodated with the plethora of precision weapons at your disposal at almost every turn.