Master Chief is back! We were lucky enough to be invited to an exclusive preview event of Halo 4 in London, where we got to play the game, but is Master Chief going to plasma-grenade his way into your heart under the wings of 343 Industries or should you just leave Halo 4 alone and reminiscence about the good old Covenant-killing days? Buckle your seat belts in that Warthog. This is going to get rough!
Of course, there were a lot of people who shed a tear when the news hit those millions of ears: No more Halo. When Bungie announced that Halo: Reach will be their last Halo title, fans were upset, maybe some were even outraged, but what a finish that was? Halo: Reach set the bar for not just the upcoming Halo 4, developed by 343 Industries, but for all the shooters out there. One must wonder, and might be even a bit skeptical too, about the new developer, 343 Industries. Will they be up to the challenge? This is what we’ve seen so far.
Do you remember the first Halo game? That epic first level when you have to battle your way through a ship that’s being attacked by the Covenant? Halo 4 opens with a similar setup but with the pure “epicness” of Halo 3′s ending. Without a doubt, Halo is a game series with a brilliant story, even though most people will not necessarily associate it with the story at first. This level will bring back some superb old memories which can be easily stated as one of the main landmarks for Microsoft. Halo: Combat Evolved was undoubtedly the software giant’s main title, shipping with the original Xbox, making the console more popular than it otherwise would have been and setting Microsoft’s future as a console manufacturer in stone.
Of course, the switch between the two developers puts a lot of pressure on 343 Industries and, from what we captured from the story so far, it is trying a bit too hard to prove itself worthy for our hard-earned cash, however, in all honesty, it promises some truly badass fights and “escape sections” as well as the great story we’ve come to expect. Lets just hope the story will ease back a bit to a normal pace. The new weapons and enemies are simply brilliant and let’s just say that even though Halo: Reach had some graphics, Halo 4 has some truly stunning visuals. The amount of detail, the shadows, the design and the animation are all there in one great working package. As we played the full version of the game, not much improvement is to be expected, but then again, there’s not much to improve on such a brilliant looking game that runs on a console coming to the end of its life cycle.
The enemies, as mentioned above, are deadlier than the Covenant and have totally different tactics. We were advised that it is highly recommended that we play the campaign on “Normal” as even hardcore Halo fans will seriously struggle with the “Hardcore” difficulty setting, with “Legendary” only advised to those with extreme mental prowess and nerves made out of diamond. Even on the “Normal” difficulty setting, success is not guaranteed at all, throughout the demo we died about five times (then stopped counting), so it certainly offers a challenge to those looking for it while offering an enjoyable experience and a potentially great story for those who don’t. Master Chief’s trusty little A.I., Cortana, is back as well with some very nice looking and improved textures. It has also been promised that she has a considerable amount of effect on the story line.
Spartan Ops is similar to Call of Duty’s Spec Ops. Four-player co-op with three other Spartans is just great fun. The mission that we were able to have a go on was called Land Grab, and in this the Spartan Ops team needed to secure a number of zones whilst eliminating all alien life from the area. At the start of the level, there are some soldiers who accompany you on your brief journey of destruction and annihilation and, of course, the vehicles are there to help you do just that. It really feels a cohesive part of the Halo experience as you can imagine how it would fit into the storyline of the main campaign whilst still working as potentially separate missions in a Spartan’s life. The Land Grab mission was on a huge map which allowed the Spartan team to utilise the vehicles to their full extent, however, it was a little frustrating at times too as after dying, the re-spawn point was sometimes at the beginning of the level and running from there to the last area that needed to be cleared could take a bit too long.
This mode is certainly something that can be marked as one of the best “play-with-friends” multiplayer modes in the series. The promise of a short campaign within the Spartan Ops mode certainly makes the entire Halo 4 experience even more appealing.
There was a little bit of multiplayer, allowing us to try out the new vehicle in Halo 4; the Mantis. This looks similar to a Silverback from Gears of War 3 but is much bigger and the firepower it packs just turns it into an awesome early Christmas gift. War Games (as 343 Industries calls it) includes a few modes such as Dominion, Capture the Flag, Regicide, Infinity Slayer and Flood. Some of them suggest their objectives but the only one that we managed to play was Dominion, where the objective is to capture all, or most, of the three bases. After a while, these bases will defend themselves which helps your team keep them while you’re out trying to capture the next base. The Longbow map that we had for this game mode is big and spacious with multiple ways around the bases, fitting the game mode perfectly.
The multiplayer looks solid and a ton of fun (as always) and with the new weapons, new modes and new maps, Halo 4 will certainly keep you entertained even after you finished the Campaign and Spartan Ops missions.
Halo 4 was always going to be a great game, there’s no doubt of that; but with such a huge fan base and with such great expectations, the new developer will have to be extremely careful with what to change and what to leave in. We are certainly looking forward to seeing Master Chief, Cortana and the others in Halo 4.
Keep checking back to GodisaGeek.com for news about Halo 4 in the run up to its release exclusively on the Xbox 360 on November 6th, 2012. Also, be sure to read the GodisaGeek.com review of the game when it hits the site.