"Chief's Not Ready to be Decommissioned Just Yet"
When I first heard that 343 Industries was busy developing Halo 4, I was skeptical. Chief's story had, after all, been told in full, right? Wasn't it time to let the old boy sleep, and move on to new properties? Admittedly, as the title came closer to release and we discovered more about it, I began to change my tune. Maybe, I thought, another Halo game isn't such a bad thing.
After having spent a fair share of time with Halo 4, I can say without a doubt that Chief's definitely got quite a bit of life left in his old bones - though the years are certainly starting to take their toll.
First and foremost, let's talk about a few minor (and welcome) changes 343 has made to Halo 4's controls. Most noteably, running. Pressing down and holding the left thumbstick in a direction causes your Spartan to dash for a short distance, while crouching is toggled with the B button and grenade types can be switched with the D Pad. It's a definite, noticeable improvement, and a feature many have been wanting in the game for quite some time.
Moving right along, the single-player campaign in Halo 4 is actually a very strong offering this time around. Though I won't spoil too much, the Promethean Knights, Crawlers, and Watchers are wholly unique opponents, and the Halo series hasn't really seen anything like them before. Battling them is at once both challenging and entertaining, yet never becomes all that frustrating. As for the Covenant, well... Nothing new to see here, folks.
Where you will see something new in single-player is in the weaponry available to you. Although 343 has removed several vehicles (the Falcon and Revenant are both absent), they've added one that more than makes up for it: a walker mech, known as the Mantis (which is one of the most entertaining vehicles to pilot). It helps, too, that Halo 4 has one of the biggest selections of weaponry from any Halo game yet, featuring a full array of Human, Covenant, and Forerunner arms, all of which have their own unique style; old favorites like the Battle Rifle appear alongside the DMR and new weapons such as the Railgun and Incineration Cannon. It's a fairly impressive array; one which ensures that there'll be something for everyone.
Another new addition to the Halo series is Spartan Ops Mode; it's essentially a series of episodic side-missions which tie into the single-player campaign to some degree. It's designed to be played with a friend, but you can just as easily play it solo.
If you feel like this brings to mind Spec Ops from the COD series, you wouldn't be that far off - it's the same basic premise. It's a reasonably fun replacement for the now-absent Firefight, and the continual release of new content ensures that there'll always be a new map to play through.
Halo 4's single-player experience does have a few shortcomings, however. First, the co-operative lag that's been an issue since Halo 3 is still rearing its ugly head, making online play in Spartan Ops or the SP campaign a chore, at best. There's also the game's A.I., which is a complete and utter crapshoot. I've lost count of the number of times an Elite or Promethean Knight stood in place and let me pump them full of bullets - on legendary, with the thunderstorm skull turned on - yet the marines who fight at your side seem oddly more competent than they did before. They actually kill things(though they still can't drive to save their lives).
On the whole, it feels as though Chief's foes have somehow gotten stupider in the past four years, even though he's the one who's been asleep.
So, long story short, Halo 4's single-player campaign, although plagued by bafflingly blockheaded A.I., it's pretty much what you'd expect from a Halo game. It's frantic, it's fun, and the plot behind it is actually pretty good. It's a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon or two.
Let's move on to the multiplayer, known as War Games.
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A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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