Probably the most anticipated game this year has to be Halo 4 from 343 Industries. We have been playing it now for a few weeks and here is our review.
Halo 4 is the first of a new trilogy of Halo games known as the Reclaimer Trilogy. It is also the first Halo game from 343 Industries, who have taken over the reigns from Bungee.
Unless you have lived under a rock since the original Xbox was launched, you would have heard of Halo! Halo was the original launch title for the original Xbox. In fact, for me personally, it was the reason I purchased the original Xbox, in fact I imported one from the States just so I could play the game! Although that was a long time ago now.
Since that point there have been a few Halo releases - Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo ODST and Halo Reach, not to mention the Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary edition. However, Halo 3 was the last Halo game that had Master Chief in it, and so for some ODST and Reach just wasn't the same.
When we last left the Chief at the end of Halo 3, he was adrift in the wreckage of the Forward Unto Dawn, telling Cortana to "wake me when you need me". Several years have past, and its time to wake the Chief, because we need him!
Single Player Campaign
The game starts off with Cortana waking up Master Chief in the wreckage of a space ship with the Covenant on board. There is something very familiar about this. 343 Industries have paid homage to the original Halo with this first mission, and it feels good to be back as the Chief.
It's not long before all hell breaks loose and we are introduced to the Promethians and the main bad guy called the Didact.
It's then time for the Chief and Cortana to do what they do best and kill anything and everything that moves and to save the day.
During the campaign there are a lot of new weapons and new vehicles, including a Mech called the Mantis, a massive AT-AT like vehicle called the Mammoth and you even get to fly some ships, including a Pelican and a Broadsword.
There is even part of a mission that is reminiscent of the Death Star run from Star Wars (you will see what I mean when you play it).
Again, I am not going to spoil the story by saying anymore, so go an play it now.
You can play the campaign on your own, co-op split screen with a friend or with up to 3 additional players via Xbox Live.
For those who love multiplayer, there is a series of different maps and games to play in the Infinity mode. You create your own Spartan and advance him, or her, during the various games and challenges and you can achieve commendations and increase your rank accordingly.
Through a weekly series of cinematic episodes on Xbox LIVE, Spartan Ops will tell the continuing story of the UNSC Infinity, following the events of "Halo 4." These episodes will centre on the UNSC Infinity leaders and crew, and a new team of Spartans - Majestic Squad. These cinematic episodes will provide the backdrop for the weekly Spartan Ops gameplay missions. Playable in single-player or cooperatively (with up to three friends), explore the corners of Requiem in these objective-based missions, and help uncover the secrets of the mysterious Forerunner world.
The first missions are available now at launch.
Because there are a lot of plot points and potential spoilers in the campaign, I'm not going to discuss them in the review, as it wouldn't be fair, because believe me, there are some things you wouldn't want spoiled, not to mention Microsoft would send a Covenant ship to find me!
All I will say is as usual once you have completed the game, watch all the credits, and wait to see what else happens....
I also recommend watching all five parts of Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn. There are a few links with the game itself, and so once you have watched it, when certain parts of the game take place you feel more invested. It's hard not spoiling the game!!!
Personally I loved Halo 4! During the year I have had the opportunity to see various parts of the game at demos and events, including getting to play a few hours back in September where Microsoft had to literally drag me away from the Xbox!
As soon as the review copy arrived I couldn't wait to play it - and play it I did! I decided to concentrate on the campaign as I wanted to know what happened having played a little before. I soon found myself immersed in the Halo universe once again and I looked at the clock to find out it was 2am and I had been playing for hours without realising it. Now if that isn't the sign of a good game, I don't know what is.
The following day I played and I played, and I eventually finished the campaign. Needless to say there were moments in the game where I just sat back and was surprised, and even shocked, and one part that was emotional. It's very difficult to convey that without going into details, but once you have played and completed the campaign you will know exactly what I meant and where!
I have read some other reviews and comments that complained that the campaign was too short or too easy. Yes, I completed it in around 6 plus hours, but that was on EASY (you really should only play Halo on Legendary, but I needed to know what happened and I needed to play it all before I could write the review). I am now playing it again on Legendary and it's a lot harder and a lot longer!
There were a few little things that I didn't like at least were a little frustrating - the first was that at times the music and sound effects were so loud that you couldn't hear the talking or the information you needed. So make sure you set up your audio before you start playing.
The second thing was that the AI on your fellow soldiers during the later missions at times was bad. I don't mean the soldiers on foot or those on the vehicles, I mean the ones driving. A number of times I jumped either in the passage seat or on the gun only to find the AI was just driving into a hill and it just couldn't go any further so I ended up either jumping off and walking, or kicking the AI out and driving myself!
Neil Davidge composed the score for Halo 4 and it really helps to set the scene for the game. It's even one of those game soundtracks you can listen to when you are not playing the game.
Multiplayer is a lot of fun. It has been interesting playing multiplayer with only a small group before the official release date, something tells me that a lot more players will be on-board now the game is out.
Spartan Ops is a great idea - each week over the course of a number of weeks you get new content, for free, so even if you have finished the campaign you can play new content. And something tells me that this wont be the last new content we see for Halo 4.
In a few weeks time when everyone has been playing Halo 4 for a while we will talk about the story and revisit multiplayer and Spartan Ops, so get playing and leave us your thoughts by commenting below.
Overall if you are a fan of Halo then you have to get this game. And if you are new to Halo then you won't be disappointed either. Go on, get it, now.
Well done 343 Industries you have done Halo proud and I cannot wait for Halo 5. Axios!
Halo 4 is available right now for the Xbox 360 - and frankly it's a must have game. It's not just one of the best games of the year, it is THE game of the year.