Halo 4 – Review
Follow Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft
Platform: Xbox 360

Halo 4 – Review

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Good: Great graphics, sound, multiplayer and overall gameplay.
Bad: Campaign missions aren't always that original.
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The long awaited sequel of the original Halo trilogy is here. Everyone’s favourite guy-in-a-battle-suit and arguably the hottest AI girl in any game are back for some more first person shooter madness. Bungie has handed over the baton to 343 industries. Will they be able to continue the series with the same high standard as Bungie did? Read on to find out.

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The story begins 4 years after the events of Halo 3. Master Chief and Cortana are floating around in space in the wreckage of a UNSC frigate untill Cortana wakes Master Chief from his 4 year cryofreeze nap. Appearantly, the Covenant is on board of the wreckage and they are making so much ruckus that Cortana can’t even hear herself think. Time to get up and teach those noisy bastards a lesson.

Another reason why Cortana can’t hear herself think is because she is going insane. AI’s have a lifespan of 7 years and after that they start to think themselves to death. In other words, it’s exactly the opposite of what the average politician does. Get it? It’s because politicians don’t think. Haha, politician joke. Okay, not funny.  Moving on.

Cortana is 8 years old so she overstayed her welcome in the sane people world for over one year. This means that aside from kicking some covenant butt (It’s actually the Storm Covenant, a different faction since we made “friends” with the original Covenant in the previous Halo games), we also have to get back to earth to see if there’s any hope in repairing Cortana. This is, however, easier said than done.

After giving the Storm Covenant a good beating, the wreckage of the frigate crashes into a mysterious planet named Requiem. This wouldn’t be Halo if Master Chief did not have some unfinished business there wich he never knew he had. I won’t spoil the rest but you’ll have to battle a new hi-tech alien race called the Prometheans, you’ll meet up with some human friends and you will find a new villain who’s out to destroy humankind. Sweet.

The story itself isn’t exceptional. It’s a continuation of the allready extensive Halo lore. Like it’s predecessors you’ll have to kill a bunch of bad guys, destroy some installations and save mankind once more. Thank god for Cortana’s insanity. This subplot gives the adventure a more dramatic, personal touch. Most players will care more about Cortana than about the fate of humankind anyway.

Even though the story isn’t ‘that’ special, the game will still draw you in because it’s perfectly told. The full video motion at the beginning, the cutscenes throughout and the voice of cortana during the game immerse you completely in the events that unfold.

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The graphics are nothing special. Your typical, run of the mill, 13 in a dozen, standard graphics.

Not really though. The game looks awesome. It’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful games on the xbox. It’s hard to point out bad things. The textures, environments and backgrounds, lighting, shading, reflections, vehicles, suits,… Everything looks great. 343 industries shows what the allready 7 year old xbox 360 still can do.

The FMV opening scene of the game is extremely realistic. The face of the doctor looks so real that you need to look twice to see that she’s computer generated. The same with the faces of the characters in game. Of course they aren’t as realistic as the faces in the opening sequence but they’re still the best looking i’ve seen on a console.

Environments, something that has always been a major selling point in the Halo games, look again fantastic. I did a quick visual comparison with Halo Reach and Halo 4 is clearly a step or even two steps up. Everything looks brighter, sharper and smoother. In comparison with Crysis 2, Halo 4 also looks smoother en sharper, allthough in Crysis 2 they were able to put more detail in the world itself and make it come a bit more to life. This is something what Halo 4 lacks perhaps. It looks great but the world doesn’t feel alive. Then again, it IS a deserted planet.

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Graphics wise Halo 4 is one of the best titles on xbox but when it comes to sound design it’s probably ‘the’ best game on the console. It’s a real pleasure to fire your weapons and slaughter some bad guys. From the sounds of the guns to the sounds the aliens make, they are all great.

The voice acting, again, is fantastic. Not once did I have the feeling that a voice was handled by someone who was misscast or someone who was overacting. Even Steve Downes was able to put emotion in the limited dialog Master Chief has.

The soundtrack isn’t written anymore by Martin O’Donnell and Michael C. Salvatori but by British producer Neil Davidge. He had some rather large shoes to fill but he fills them quite nicely. The Halo trademark monk chants are gone but at the main menu screen they are replaced with some enya-style celtic music (it sounds better than i make it out to be). His score might not be as iconic and memorable as the original soundtrack but during the game it sounds great.

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If you loved playing the first Halo games, you’ll love Halo 4. If you hated the first games you’ll probably also dislike this one.

The game is extremely linear. You have to go from point A to point B and flip a switch, go through a portal, help some people out, defend an item or destroy something. These are also the main negative points: the linearity and the typical objects you have to fulfill are lacking real originality.

It never gets really boring because the pacing is quite high and there’s also a lot of variety during the missions. You can make use of different vehicles and weapons and despite the linearity you always have different options in completing a mission (read: different options in how you kill the enemy so you can complete the mission).

You will find yourself often low on ammo so you’ll need to pick up guns that your enemies dropped. Lack of ammo and often switching weapons might sound annoying but it isn’t. It gives variation in play style and most weapons have their uses. I have a tendency to use long range rifles and kill the mobs from a safe distance but when my ammo was gone, I needed to pick up whatever my enemy dropped and if it’s a mid range or close range weapon i needed to adjust my play style and go in for the kill. Because of this, you also start to appreciate certian weapons more than you did initially. I didn’t like the mid-close range Promethean Supressor at first but because I was forced to use it a couple of times I really came to like it.

The vehicles are still 100 percent Halo, meaning they can be a little frustrating at times. There’s a mission where you need to fly a ghost towards safety while the ground underneath you explodes. Here I died a couple of times because the ghost flipped on its head for no real reason. Same with the warthog wich has the tendency of flipping over as well or being stuck in a close space because the camera acts funny. But i think i had the most problems with the Banshee, especially in air to air combat. A banshee can be a pain when you have to turn and aim at another flying object. On the other hand, I love driving with the Scropion tank and walking with the Mantis though. The Mantis is like a AT-ST walker from Star Wars and is great fun to use.

I prefer to play games on normal because this tends to be challenging enough without ever getting frustrating. Same with Halo 4. When playing on easy it’s just too easy but on normal you can keep a high pace throughout the campaign as long as you’re a bit careful. The moments where I died was when I drove my warthog in water, fell down a cliff or commited suicide by running into a pack of Prometheans where there was no place to hide. If you are a Halo veteran you might feel that normal is still too easy and start directly with heroic instead.

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A very big part of Halo is Multiplayer. I’ve always been more of a single player / campaign person myself but I found that Halo multiplayer is well balanced and a lot of fun. In Halo 4 there are basically 2 modes aside from the co-op campaign.

In War Games you have 10 competitive multiplayer types ranging from 4 vs 4, 8 vs 8, 6 player free for all, Capture the Flag and King of the Hill.

In Spartan Ops you’ll have to complete short missions. These missions can be played solo but it’s better to play them with four. These missions are quite short but every week there will be 5 new ones released. Right now there are allready 10 available.

When you play multiplayer you’ll gain experience. You’ll unlock different items to personalise your character with when you gain XP. You can change different parts of your suit and adjust the color scheme. You can create your own dog tags and you can alter the items you begin with at the start of a game.

Furthermore you still have the option to create your own battlegrounds with Forge and with Theater mode you can record movies and take screenshots.


Halo 4 looks great, sounds amazing and is fun to play through. If you’re a Halo fan you probably bought the game allready but if you are doubting to buy it, I can really recommend it. The good parts definitely outweigh the mediocre parts like the lack of originality in the missions and some vehicles that are annoying to drive (this can be seen as a part of the Halo charm though).

If you are new to Halo, the story can get a bit confusing at times but i don’t think it will reduce the enjoyment you get of playing through the campaign and definitely not for the multiplayer part. You can always play the first games or read up on the Halo lore on Wikipedia if you want to now exactly what’s going on.

Besides the campaign there are a lot of multiplayer options. With Spartan Ops you’ll get 5 new missions every week and there’s always 10 types of classic multiplayer modes like Capture the Flag or Free For all you can play.

343 Industries did a great job with this sequel. There are still a bunch of questions unanswered so I look forward to part 5 and 6.


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