Review: Halo 4 / Developer: 343 Studios / Publisher: Microsoft / Platform: Xbox 360 / Release Date: Out Now
Developed by 343 studios, Halo 4 has you don the Spartan armour once again to fend off an ancient evil. As you awaken from cryogenic stasis it’s safe to say things seem a little hostile, however this is nothing a synthetically enhanced soldier and a failing A.I. can’t sort out. Five years ago Bungie’s Halo 3 had you finish the fight but that was merely the battle, this is war…
There are various abilities, weapons and enhancements to help win this war. Some are subtle such as a hologram of yourself to create a distraction leaving you to flank the enemy, whereas others are effective when engaging the enemy all guns blazing. A nifty enhancement is the ability to summon a flying assault drone which can pick off the smaller pesky enemies while the big brutes are left to you to put down. The enemy variations are impressive as each one provides a unique challenge and requires a different approach to dispatch. This does provide both an unexpected and welcoming challenge but at times it can get downright frustrating. The enemies do not run in fear shouting “Demon!”, they lock their sites on you and attack with relentless ruthlessness. The Covenant, a fanatically religious alien race, does provide a challenge but it’s the mysterious promethean knights that make things hard. They have a savage arsenal of weapons which include the precise Light rifle, the overpowered Incinerator or the face imploding scattershot. The real fun comes when you turn these weapons onto the enemy, as their power exceeds anything from previous Halo games.
The weapons also look very good this time around. In fact the entire game looks impressive! Just when it seems all the juice has been squeezed from the Xbox 360 it’s nice to still be surprised by graphical fidelity. The animations of the characters, the lighting and the atmosphere throughout the game provides for a truly immersive experience. The icing on the sensory cake is the soundtrack. While it is its own animal, there are a few nostalgic nods to the iconic soundtracks of the previous games. Composed by Neil Davidge, it is the music that deserves some accolades as it compliments the gameplay well and never becomes overbearing. The game also has very strong voice performances, with this being the first time Steve Downes (Master Chief) and Jen Taylor (Cortana) have shared the recording booth. This shows as the chemistry between the two characters has never been stronger and works well for the narrative.
This game really is the complete package with an engaging story and a generous multiplayer complimented with many game types. 343 has shown their potential and the future looks very promising for Microsoft’s flagship franchise.