Halo 4 Single Player Campaign Xbox 360 Review
Publisher: Microsoft Developer: 343 Industries Genre: FPS Players: 1 Age Rating: 16+
Other console/handheld formats: N/A
Halo 4 is a new beginning for the series in more ways than one: a fresh story arc, a new composer and of course it marks the first time that the series hasn’t been in the care of creator Bungie, instead being crafted by new developer, 343 Industries.
The game takes place four years after Halo 3 and once again sees the return of Master Chief, who now talks in game but is nevertheless still a bland and boring protagonist. He is once again accompanied by his far more interesting AI companion Cortana, who this time around is suffering from rampancy, which is best described as a digital dementia of sorts. The story isn’t without its intrigue and highlights, though quite frankly it’s convoluted nonsense and not one of the games strengths.
With their first Halo, 343 Industries have retained all the important facets that Bungie implemented to make Halo into the beloved series that it is today. It sees the return of the famous 30 seconds of fun, which has you attacking your enemies and then rushing to cover to recharge your diminished shield, before you can start the process anew. The excellent gunplay has been retained and there’s still a satisfying combination of on foot and vehicle based combat.
The enemy AI also continues to impress with its illusion of intelligence, ducking in and out of cover, diving out of the way of grenades and just generally giving you the sense that they’re far beyond targets in a shooting gallery and are genuinely fighting for their very lives. The Covenant have returned from previous games, whilst the Promethean’s are new adversaries with new behaviour patterns that you’re required to take into consideration. For instance, the knights teleport around the battlefield, whilst watchers will support their allies, by using shields and summoning other enemies.
The weaponry of such importance to the FPS genre is as gratifying as always and is finely balanced, with even the less powerful weapons having their uses, for instance the humble pistol is equipped with a scope. All the favourites from throughout the series decade long history are present such as the needler, which fills your enemies full of explosive needles, the plasma pistol allows you to charge up a shot to instantly break the defences of shielded enemies and even less exotic and more ordinary weapons like the battle rifle are satisfying in their own ways with their sheer impact. The new weapons are stylish and satisfying too, particularly the way that they form in your hands, though in contrast their method of shooting is unimaginative.
From a visual standpoint, Halo 4 is far and away the most lavish game in the series yet, particularly when it comes to the lighting, though perhaps because of this leap in quality comes at the cost of diminished scale and the sprawling open battlegrounds from past games are largely absent in favour of more restrictive and compact environments, which is easily the most disappointing aspect of the campaign.
The music meanwhile doesn’t have the same impact as original composer Marty O’Donnell’s grandiose work, which isn’t to say there isn’t some fantastic pieces on offer, but on the whole it just isn’t as memorable and complementary to the experience.
Halo 4 isn’t without its disappointments, but nevertheless going forward, the series is seemingly in good hands, but in spite of Halo 4 being the work of a fresh development team, it isn’t as different as you might think, though perhaps 343 Industries are initially showing that they understand the nature of Halo well before they commit to bringing more dramatic and inventive changes to the series and, in turn, ultimately making it their own.