STAFF REVIEW of Halo 4 (Xbox 360)

Thursday, November 1, 2012.
by Brent Roberts

Halo 4 Box art Cortana: Chief, take a look at this. I found this while deciphering code within the Forerunner intelligence network. It's a heavily protected file that if my decoding is correct, should shed some light on what’s in store for our future. Fancy a read Chief?

Master Chief: Always love good intel.

Cortana: Interesting.... It appears to have information from a site called XboxAddict which may be useful to helping us along the way. Apparently there is a lot of data concerning the overall qualities of our missions and the title of the report reads, Halo 4.

Master Chief: Talk to me


"Wake me, when you need me"

A long time has passed since we left Master Chief floating adrift amongst the stars, deep in a cryogenic sleep. Many Halo games have released since then, but no game has had more anticipation than Halo 4. For years we have waited anxiously to awaken Master Chief from his slumber and propel ourselves through the next chapter of this gaming masterpiece. It is time to rejoice my fellow Spartans for the wait is over. The time has come! As a new war approaches, it brings with it, a threat so overpowering it is beyond human comprehension. Humanity needs a hero. Someone who can overcome the unrelenting forces of adversaries to ensure that mankind survives. The time has come. Wake up John.

From the beginning Halo 4 opens up to a symphony of vocals, instruments, and visual beauty set against the backdrop of the wreckage in space over the Forerunner planet. With the push of one button, however, Halo 4 springs to life and shows you why the years of waiting for Master Chief’s return were worth every moment. A whole new user interface has been implemented which provides a very clean and ease of use as you go from menu to menu. Your beginning menus allow quick access to your Campaign, Infinity, Halo Waypoint, and Xbox Live Marketplace. In the campaign menu you will have the options as before where you can select levels, skulls, and difficulty. They say that the legendary difficulty is where a Spartan is born, and if they survive, become legends in their own right. The Infinity menu is where we find the heart of the Halo experience, and the beginning of your multiplayer journey. When you select Infinity, your menu choices consist of: War Games, Spartan Ops, Forge, and Theater.

War Games are your traditional multiplayer experience. It is here where you can chose between finding a traditional style Halo multiplayer game type, and creating your very own. There are many game types that we have all come to expect in Halo such as Oddball, Capture the Flag, Big Team, Slayer, and more so when it comes time to find a game, nothing could be easier. On the surface, the simplicity of the structure shines through, but when you dig deeper in creating your own custom game, you realize just how in-depth Halo 4 actually is. This new wealth of customization options is thanks to the new inclusion of the Forge toolkit at your fingertips, so now your imagination becomes your limitation.

Not only has Forge been expanded deeper into multiplayer, but when you enter the individual worlds itself, you will see that not only has your toolkit expanded, but the interface has been polished as well to provide gamers an easier time to create the worlds that they want. A big improvement to Forge rests on the new streamlined commands such as locking, and more importantly duplicating. With just a push of one button you can now duplicate objects over and over again. There is one feature though that will have Forge users beyond happy, and that is the introduction to magnets. This forever removes the need to line up objects perfectly through painstaking movements and alignments. Now you can have objects automatically align themselves and hold in place thus cutting down on the stresses found before.

Spartan Ops is brand new to the Halo universe and allows a different storyline to unfold that intersects with the story from Halo 4. These new adventures can be completed either solo or with friends and are released as episodes that shed new light on the Infinity after the end of Halo 4. Through these episodes you will become familiar with Infinity's Captain and crew, and you will also bid welcome to a new team of Spartans called, Majestic Squad. This brand new innovation to the series will ensure that Halo 4's story will always be evolving into a true cinematic spectacle.

Overshadowing all of this however, is Halo 4's brand new Spartan Hub. This new innovation to Halo allows you to access various features such as the Armory, Challenges, Loadouts, Commendations, and more. Loadouts is a new feature to Halo's multiplayer and gives you the choice of what equipment you wish to start with. If you want to start with a DMR, Plasma Grenades, Jet Pack, Ammo Boost, and Maneuverability, go ahead. First though, you must not only unlock the items, but you must also purchase them through Spartan Points (SP). You gain one SP every time your character ranks up but with certain items varying in cost; you may have to save your points for a few levels before you can buy the bigger toys. There are other new innovations to your Spartan loadouts and those are the support and tactical packages. These new options include features such as: speeding up your shield recharge rate, increasing the amount of grenades you carry, to increasing ammo capacity and improving sensor range. Ranking up not only allows you new weapon and support unlocks but also new additions to your armory. While some may want to jump head first, in Halo 4 you have to earn the armor you want wear.

When people call something beautiful it usually is because it makes an impact on us on some level. Someone may hear a piece of music and connect with it emotionally; another still may view a painting and make a personal connection with it. Without question, Halo 4's beauty goes beyond any word that could be spoken. Every level of the campaign is a wonder to behold. All the details from the towering Forerunner peaks against a blue sky to the very core of the planet itself are done to pinpoint precision and since every scene is interlinked by beautiful video footage, every moment in Halo 4 instantly becomes memorable. This is Halo like you have never seen before and easily sets the bar almost beyond reach of what is possible in the world of gaming. Earlier you read how the new user interface makes jumping between menus much easier and that is also in part to the graphic overhaul that it has received. Now large boxes indicate options to choose and since the interface is streamlined, finding things is now simpler than ever.

One factor that has made up the backbone of Halo has always been the music. Now when I start up Halo, I'm looking forward to hearing "the chant" and the following musical score by Mr. Marty O'Donnell; all you had to hear was "the chant" and you already knew what was going on. Now though, times have changed as Mr. Neil Davidge steps into the role of composing Halo 4's musical score and it took some warming up before it started to feel right. No more will you start Halo 4 up and hear the iconic monk sounds, instead you are serenaded with a seductively sinister harmony of vocals which help set the stage for the opening act of this latest chapter in Halo. Emotion plays a major role in developing a personal interactive relationship and the music is absolutely critical to get right. There are defining moments of pressure when the bass drum is beating away, driving you faster. There are moments of grand spectacles where fanfares of discovery go ringing through your ears. There are even moments that rock the Halo Universe to its core and the music grabs you and connects on a personal level. You can easily tell that Mr. O'Donnell will be missed by all of the Halo gamers around the world, but what rises from the departed is a musical experience that exemplifies every aspect of Halo 4.

Unfortunately, at the time of this writing we were unable to test the features and functionality of the new Microsoft SmartGlass application with Halo 4. It is currently available for Windows 8 and Windows RT PC's and tablets and some android products. Hopefully this feature will release soon across all platforms as this will help expand halo like nothing we've ever experienced before.

If you've realized that we have omitted everything about the plot, then you'll thank us latter because Halo 4's journey, while a bit short, provides one breathtaking moment after another and is a story that should not be spoiled in any way. In all forms of media there are characters that become more than just an icon, they become legends. Microsoft and 343 have poured their hearts and souls into making Halo 4 into the Halo game we have all been waiting to play, and it shows. The wait is almost over my fellow Spartans, we may have finished the fight but the war is far from over and because of that, Halo will never be the same again. Join the millions around the world on Nov. 6 2012 for the next installment of one of the greatest video game adventures that we will ever experience, Halo 4.


Cortana: From what I can tell Chief it seems that while Microsoft and 343 have given you all this help, surviving the Forerunners seems like a losing bet. How can you even expect to win this war?

(Loads battle rifle)
Master Chief: Stack the deck.

Overall: 9.8 / 10
Gameplay: 9.5 / 10
Visuals: 9.9 / 10
Sound: 9.8 / 10



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