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Halo 4 – Xbox 360

Halo 4 – Xbox 360

Halo 4 - Xbox 360Platform:  Xbox 360

Release Date (NA):  November 6th, 2012

Developer:  343 Industries

Publisher:  Microsoft Studios

Genre:  FPS

Nerd Rating:  7 out of 10

 

 

After moving through The Master Chief Collection in a few short days, I decided to play through Halo 4 on the 360 as well.  Mainly I wanted to see if there were any differences while The Master Chief Collection was still fresh on my mind, but it also gave me a chance to really think about what I did and didn’t like about Halo 4, especially compared to Halo 1, 2, and 3, each of which I’ve played through several times.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

The Didact seemed like an interesting villain, but the story went from a simple “get Cortana home” to a mildly confusion attempt to stop this guy from “digitizing the life on Earth.”

Our story picks up 4 years after the end of Halo 3, with Cortana waking the Chief during a Covenant attack on their half of a spaceship floating around.  A good deal of Forerunner backstory is exposed, but in a nutshell, Master Chief goes up against old Forerunner constructs known as the Prometheans, controlled by an awakened Forerunner known as the Didact, who wishes to use a device known as the Composer to digitize all life on Earth.  Meanwhile, a splinter cell of the Covenant is roaming around, being annoying as always.

Unique to Halo 4 is the absence of the Flood, as well as no action taking place on a halo megastructure.  Clearly the developers and writers were interested in taking the story in a new direction, which is fine with me.  The Flood were pretty cool the first time around, but after 3 games, their zerg-rush technique was growing tiresome.  Otherwise, Halo 4 feels like a Halo game should, with a few new weapons to keep things interesting.  The Covenant’s Storm Rifle might be the most worthy new addition to Halo’s arsenal, and although several Promethean weapons are introduced, they still function much like existing or previous weapons.  (However, they do look really cool.)

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

Halo 4 introduces the all new Promethean Weapons.

Overall I enjoyed the game, but I found it a little lacking compared to other Halo titles.  For instance, there’s a sequence near the beginning where the Chief jumps up (or down?) an elevator shaft as the air pressure drops.  It’s just a few seconds of moving vertically while dodging objects horizontally, but the brief change in gameplay was a little interesting and I was looking forward to other such short diversions throughout the game, however, none were to be found.  I have to wonder why this sequence was even included at all.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

PLASMA PISTOL: Get used to it!

Another aspect I take issue with is how limited ammunition is in the game and how the batteries for plasma-based weapons have greatly shortened lifespans compared to previous games.  The Halo series has always been fond of letting you run out of ammunition and forcing the player to acclimate to a new weapon, but Halo 4 has the player discarding weapons every few minutes.  Human weapon ammunition is nearly nonexistent in the levels, so once you’ve fired that last pistol or assault rifle round, you may as well toss it.  Covenant-based weapons are around in great quantity, but they give out far too quickly.  The average Storm Rifle will last long enough to kill maybe two Elites, and then it’s done.  Ultimately this leads to a shortage of weapons except for…yep, you guessed it, those damned plasma pistols.  I’ve got no problem resorting to a plasma pistol every now and then, but Halo 4 constantly forced me to resort to the only thing that was around – and even then, I often went through 4 or 5 plasma pistols before landing on new weaponry.  More than once I ran completely out of ammo and available weapons and was forced to rush and something and beat it to death for the chance to grab something to shoot with.

After the introduction of the the Prometheans, weapon choices open up a bit.  Most prominent are the Bolt Shot, Lightrifle, and Suppressor, with items like the Binary Rifle, Scattershot, and Incineration Cannon available in lesser quantities.  Don’t get me wrong, these weapons look awesome, but functionally they don’t really do anything new.  The Bolt Shot is almost worthless against the Prometheans themselves, and the Suppressor is little more than an assault rifle with a wider spread, leaving the Lightrifle as the most useful of the bunch as it functions somewhere between a UNSC battle rifle and sniper rifle.

I know I’ve been going on about weapons for a while now, but in an FPS, it’s an important part of the game.  I don’t expect to use the same gun throughout the game, but it is nice to have options, which are all but absent here.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

These guys are seriously irritating. Seriously.

Now let’s talk a little about the Prometheans themselves.  As a new type of enemy, they bring some interesting abilities to the table, such as their different sizes and roles and the knights’ ability to phase in and out of space.  Much like the Flood however, they become extremely tiresome to fight.  The Covenant is much more “fun” enemy, with all of its different members and strategies, but there are only 3 basic Prometheans, and in some ways, they encompass what was worst about both the Flood and the Brutes.  Like the Brutes, the Promethean Knights take endless amounts of damage while delivering crushing blows themselves.  Like the Flood, the little flying things and the dog-like creatures use swarming as their main tactic, diverting the player from taking care of the real threats, the Knights.  Combat wasn’t particularly hard when I got used to it, it just had a “been there, done that” feeling to it.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

It is extremely satisfying when you finally get to watch these pricks disintegrate.

Despite all this, Halo 4 is still a good game, it just doesn’t quite live up to the increases in quality of its predecessors.  I thought the exploration of Forerunner mythology was interesting, but by the end the plot is sort of muddled and confusing and I’m left unconvinced.  I really enjoyed the personal drama between Master Chief and Cortana as they dealt with Cortana’s “rampancy,” though I was left thoroughly unsatisfied by its conclusion.  I’d like to say that I hope for more of a resolution in Halo 5, but it doesn’t appear that Halo 5 will feature Master Chief as the central character.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

I wish this part had lasted longer…

As far as gameplay goes, Halo 4 is every bit as smooth and responsive as it should be.  There’s nothing much new to discover, but it takes a solid concept and runs with it well.  The aerial mission near the end is perhaps most innovative and plays out like a lot of 5th generation shooters and flight simulators.  I had a great time dodging obstacles and shooting out targets (once I figured out how to invert the flight controls…).  The other new addition, the Mantis, was fun to stomp around in as well.  I also loved the idea of the Mammoth, yet the entire idea was criminally underused and abandoned far too quickly.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

I wish we’d gotten “more mileage” out of the Mammoth, so to speak.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

What started off as a fairly benign “AI construct” has been increasingly sexualized as graphics have improved.

Graphics are exceptional, and perhaps some of the best I’ve seen on the 360.  The cutscenes in particular are fantastic, and the line between live action and CGI is blurred almost beyond distinction.  As is the case with most games released near the tail end of a console’s life, the developers have really pushed the envelope when it comes to both realism and awe-inspiring visuals.

Halo 4 - Xbox 360

The Mantis is suspiciously reminiscent of the Titans in Titanfall…and those always remind me of The Matrix anyway.

Spartan Ops is an additional mode available in Halo 4, continuing the story of the starship Infinity some months after the events of the campaign.  For the most part, these chapters play out like the more objective-based missions of Halo 1 and where certain targets must me eliminated or certain goals must be reached.  I haven’t explored this mode too heavily yet, though it’s clear that the intent is to replace cooperative play through the campaign.

Halo 4 is an acceptable entry in the series, though it’s evident that the series is starting to show its age.  I think the story of the halos and the Spartans and Forerunners can continue, but we need a fresh injection of material.  So far, all of the main games have followed the same pattern: fight Covenant for the first half, fight a tougher enemy for the second half.  Some have speculated that the limitations of the 360 vs. what the developers wanted to do with Halo 4 has led to a feeling of incompleteness or lack of innovation, and maybe it’s true.  I’m not wild about the “loss” of Master Chief going into Halo 5, but at least we’ll have a fresh story on our hands, and judging from what we’ve seen so far, we’ll be dipping down much further into the story of the Forerunners.

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist


Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

Email me anytime, about anything: thecubist@nerdbacon.com

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4 Comments

  1. I havent played this, but it sounds like it’s worth a shot only for the sake of finally playing a Halo game without having to deal with the damn Flood!

     
    • For sure! The Flood was getting tiresome.

      Took advantage of a sale at Toys R Us today and got Halo Reach and Halo 3: ODST for like $30 total! ODST never seemed all that interesting, but the more I’ve read about Reach, the more I want to play! Maybe I can squeeze one in before February…

       
  2. Having only played the Master Chief Collection version of Halo 4, I actually rather liked it. More than Halo 2, in fact.

     
    • I bought Halo 4, bumbled around the ship for a bit, months later played Master Chief Collection, and that’s what got me interested in going back to the 360 version. Having played both literally within 2 or 3 days of each other, virtually nothing is unchanged.

      I dunno, I mean I don’t hate the game, and there’s nothing really wrong with it, it just doesn’t feel like a big step forward. Those Prometheans were dreadfully boring/annoying to fight, and the new weapons were a little uninspired.

      I did appreciate some of the new vehicular sequences, I just wish we had more of them. The whole game felt a little short as well.

       

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