If there is one familiar that players can hold onto in Halo 4 it’s the core combat mechanics. Halo returns with the same fast paced and insanely fun combat that the series has always been known for. In fact, if you have played any of the other Halo titles, chances are you could pick up a controller and immediately begin playing.
The major change in Halo 4 comes from the revamped armor abilities. Armor abilities were first introduced in Halo Reach, but at the time they felt gimmicky and underdeveloped. Now armor abilities make a return, with new powers and abilities that seem much more tailored to fit specific styles. Whether players opt for mobility with the jet-pack or subterfuge with active camouflage; each ability presents players with distinct advantages geared to meld with certain play styles and weapon load-outs.
Of course what would a shooter be without new weaponry for the players to explore? In Halo 4 a new faction of hyper-advanced aliens “the Prometheans” are introduced and they come equipped with some new toys for players to test out. While the Covenant (the traditional alien faction from Halo) may be slightly more advanced than the human race, the Prometheans are light years ahead. Each weapon is formed by a series of gravity fields that hold the device together, giving each weapon its own unique look and feel. However, as with the human and covenant weapons, the Promethean’s weaponry falls into familiar sub-categories, such as shotgun, long-range rifle, assault rifle.
While the new weapons do add a spark to the campaign, the real star of the show has to the game’s stellar pacing. 343i has done a masterful job of introducing heart-palpitating fight sequences only to have the player brought down the next instance to calmly observe their surroundings anxiously awaiting the next engagement. The constant flux of highs and lows keeps players on their toes, pushing them to explore their surroundings, and making each and every fight sequence that much more impactful.
The only real detriment to the campaign is that certain missions can begin to feel a bit repetitive. During specific parts of the campaign enemy waves can begin to feel homogeneous with one wave blending into the next. These situations seem to call for basically the same tactics over and over again, and can become rather bland. Luckily these instances are few and far between, as normally the game offers a plethora of objectives, and vehicle sequences that spice things up.
There is no doubt that Halo 4 offers a solid campaign, but Halo 4’s multiplayer is its real selling point. Taking all of the best elements of old Halo games and compounding on them, Halo 4 offers the best multiplayer experience in the series.
In Halo Reach they played around with the idea of player load outs, but much like armor abilities they never really panned out. This time around 343i has taken a stab, and has managed to develop a load out class system that allows players to personalize their own Spartan, without deterring from the original Halo competitive gameplay that fans love. As players compete in multiplayer games they’ll earn experience, allowing them to unlock new equipment and weapons to alter their load outs.
Creating a class, players will be able to choose a primary weapon, secondary weapon, grenade, armor ability, tactical package, and support upgrades. Armor upgrades I already mentioned offer players unique abilities, while the tactical package and support upgrades offer players passive abilities (such as faster shield regen), which allow players to form effective builds. The beauty of the class system is it offers players enough individuality to cater to their desired play style without distorting the balance of the game. Only certain weapons are available to players while creating their classes (namely the assault rifles), thus there is still an emphasis on obtaining the power weapons which are scattered throughout the map.
What really makes the class system work so well is Halo 4’s impeccable balance. Every gun, every perk hosts its own strengths and weakness. There is no best weapon, best perk, or best strategy. If you opt for one weapon or perk, you’ll leave yourself vulnerable to something else.
Additionally players will be driven to complete a cornucopia of objectives throughout the games 11 game modes, including familiar modes such as team death-match (a.k.a slayer) or capture the flag. Halo 4 even introduces a Flood game type that offers a co-op wave defense experience. Easily though, my favorite game mode so far has to be Regicide. Regicide is essentially a free for all game with a twist; the person in the lead receives a bounty and offers additional points to players who kill them. It keeps the game fast paced, close, and hectic; players can make ridiculous comebacks or suffer upsetting defeats, but most importantly it incentives players to move around the map.
With the already pristine gameplay mechanics instilled by older Halo iterations and the new strategic class making system, Halo 4 offers one of the cleanest fps multiplayer experiences available.
In addition to traditional multiplayer, players will be able to join up and play together in the Spartan-Ops Co-Op mode. The mode is comprised of episodes with a new episode being released every week. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to play the first episode so far, but from what I have seen the series promises to offer an interesting mix of narrative and fast paced gameplay geared at getting players to work together.
The best part about Spartan-Ops is that it is completely free DLC that is set to release every week, culminating in 10 episodes or 50 co-op missions for players to enjoy. Obviously, I cannot accurately assess how Spartan-Ops will turn out at this point, but from what I’ve seen so far it shows a lot of promise.
Halo 4 may have a few faults, but that doesn’t deter this title from being one of the better shooters to release this year. The lack of information regarding the plot and the repetitive sequences are a detriment to the experience, but can overlooked given everything that this game brings to the table.
With amazing pacing, addicting gameplay, gorgeous visuals, and some the best multiplayer on the market Halo 4 offers something for almost every gamer.
If you are looking for a FPS that offers fun competitive play, there is no reason not to pick up Halo 4.