My history with the Halo franchise has been complicated. My first contact with it was not with the Xbox game, but the PC port of Halo: Combat Evolved. At the time, I only played the single player campaign and I felt the game was a decent first person shooter for the time. Though, as I had not played the multiplayer aspect of the game, I had a bit of trouble understanding what the hubbub was all about. For those reasons, I skipped Halo 2 and later reconnected with the franchise when Halo 3 came out on Xbox 360. However, I only managed to get a quarter of the way into the single player campaign before the average level design and unsatisfying gunplay turned me off.
With the departure of original developer, Bungie, there has been a lot of expectation riding on Microsoft to keep existing fans happy while at the same time invigorating the decade old franchise. Much has been said about Halo 4 being Microsoft’s most expensive game, and after having played the single player campaign from beginning to end, I can say that the investment was worth it. The graphics have been significantly overhauled over Halo 3, making Halo 4 one of the most visually impressive games to come out on the console this year. This immaculate presentation extends cut scenes, which were visually impressive enough to stop me from skipping them.
There are many things that I liked about Halo 4, such as the satisfying gun play, the voice acting, and the removal of the babyish noises the Grunt enemies used to make. No doubt taking inspiration from EA’s Mass Effect series, Halo 4 introduces a lot of character and environment design elements that cumulate into a more “hard sci-fi” experience, which is a good thing in my book. The only issue I had was with the story, which I had trouble following due to my overall lack of knowledge of the Halo franchise.
- Fun single player campaign consisting of well designed levels and balanced enemies.
- Halo 4 is a nice looking game that runs at a great frame rate. The cut scenes also pack impressive visual detail.
- The orchestral score adds to the sci-fi atmosphere of the game. The voice acting is well done and the sound effects are also appropriate.
- Gun play has been adjusted to make it more hard hitting during fire fights, though getting used to some of the more unusual weapons takes some time.
- Halo 4 has a short single player campaign that can be completed in a few hours, but it will be an enjoyable experience while it lasts.
- Story was somewhat hard to follow.
The departure of Bungie is probably the best thing that ever happened to the Halo franchise.
Note: The multiplayer aspect of Halo 4 was not reviewed.