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Halo 4 Review

343 Industries are no strangers to the Halo series, having been founded to oversee the entire universe while its original master, Bungie, moved on. While 343 have done a decent job of this so far, being entrusted with the next full game in the series was a much bigger step. As you know, Halo is a big franchise for Microsoft; it's the game that appeases its hardcore base, a big budget title that simply cannot fail. The pressure was sure on 343 to deliver and so the challenge began.

Watching the opening scene of Halo 4 you'll probably think to yourself that any worries you did have were completely unfounded as it really is something spectacular. Cortana who we last saw set adrift on the derelict ship, Forward Until Dawn, awakens to find that all is not right, causing her to stir Master Chief from his cryogenic slumber. Cortana explains that they have come across a planet known as Requiem which will later play a major part in the game. Meanwhile, there is also another issue in that some Covenant invaders have boarded the ship. So it's time for Chief to start the fight, in the only way he knows how.

This opening scene is certainly eye catching. In fact it's probably fair to say that the cutscenes at the beginning and throughout are amongst the most impressive around. The level of storytelling and acting is big budget and it seems, just by looking at these scenes, that it was money well spent. One of the things I was determined to get across in this review was that when 343 industries break free of series tradition, this is one of the best and most original Halo games yet. The ideas and scenes created by the minds of 343 are some of the most spectacular around, yet at the same time it feels like there could have been so much more. Often in the game it feels like you are taking a step backwards as you enter into a room full of Covenant and take to the fight in oh-so-familiar surroundings. Yet when 343's own ideas come into play, things feel so much fresher, so much better, that even I, a none dedicated fan of the series, began to appreciate what a talented studio this is.

Throughout the entire campaign you'll be placed in incredible surroundings, mostly battling against a new race known as Prometheans. These newcomers are the essence of 343's Halo, giving a brand new challenge thanks to their new weapons which range from items such as a shotgun and light rifle to one which even has an enemy dissolving effect. There's new technology too, Promethean Vision for example, covers the screen in a blue tinted overlay, marking enemies in red and therefore making them easier to spot. The latter can only be used in short bursts but it's very handy, especially in the early areas which are covered in fog. 

There's plenty more UNSC technology too. For instance, Master Chief can make use of a brand new Hardlight Shield, which allows him to defend himself from enemy fire. Very handy when there is no cover and he has a low armor. Want more? How about some vehicles then, as throughout the campaign Master Chief will take control of all manner of machinery from warthogs, the mongoose and the extremely impressive Mantis, which is a large mechanical mech that helps you destroy every enemy in your way.

The Prometheans themselves are a pretty awesome force and come in many forms. The Crawlers for instance look like large metal dogs, although a lot meaner, hunting in packs and firing at you from a distance. Other variations of Crawler leap at you, causing panic and fast reflexes to jump in. The Promethean Knights meanwhile offer a tough challenge, using the previously mentioned weapons to give you a tough time. The latter are also aided by the Watchers, which as well as firing at you, provide a shield for the Knights.

The campaign is very impressive indeed, though often I was drawn back to my earlier thoughts that it could have been more. For instance, in quite a few of the levels you'll be tasked with completing the same scenario numerous times, e.g you'll find yourself taking out three shields to deactivate a tower on more than one occasion, all while fighting the same enemies in what often feels like a carbon copy of what you've just done. Yet when 343 do things differently, all of a sudden you realise what this game could have been and what this new trilogy may yet become. 

I've deliberately made the review of the campaign spoiler free, but I still feel like I've covered most of it above. Even when you get to the end there still feels a sense of what could have been, like 343 just couldn't garner the energy to once and for all break free of Bungie's shackles. Don't get me wrong, this is probably one of the most spectacular games in terms of visuals that you'll see this year, but to me there's a little innovation and a dash of the epic missing and that is slightly disappointing.

Perhaps I'm being a little harsh on 343 Industries, after all there is so much more to Halo 4 than the campaign, which is after all just a drop in the water, even if it will take around five hours of your time. The meat of this game is of course the multiplayer, which not only includes all the usual suspects as far as gameplay modes go, but also the brand new Spartan Ops mode, which is a great addition in itself.

Spartan Ops, for those who don't know, is a new set of online, four player campaign modes which will be released on a weekly basis. Each campaign will be split into seasons, each of which will consist of five missions for a total of ten weeks. Obviously this adds a lot of value and potentially hours of gameplay to the game. Given that each mission is introduced by yet more cinematic-style videos, what you get here is some of the same quality that you'll experience in the campaign. With Spartan Ops tying into the main plot of Halo 4, while also providing the same level of quality, it's yet another reason to be happy if you've already got this game on your Christmas list.

Of course Halo 4 wouldn't be the same game without competitive multiplayer and those buying the game for this reason will not be disappointed. Known as War Games, all your standard modes are of course present and correct but with plenty of changes to keep you on your toes. Players now have the ability to choose their weapons, armor abilities and a grenade type. This means you can now take a different stance from online opponents, with armor abilities such as Camouflage, Hologram or Jet Packs complimenting the way you play. Another interesting change is that everyone can now sprint, it doesn't seem like a big deal, but it does make a difference. 

One of the most important additions this time around is Spartan Points, allowing you to rank up, gaining you new abilities, armor and cosmetic changes. Spartan Points can also help you unlock Spartan Ops missions. Points can be earned in many ways, be it through War Games, Challenges, Spartan Ops mode or even using Forge mode. The level cap is 50 in multiplayer, although once you reach this you'll then be able to specialize, although I'm nowhere near that good to be able to discuss this in more detail.

As for the maps? There are ten in total, seeing you in areas such as Haven, a small map which is placed above Requiem's surface, to more vehicle based maps such as Ragnarok, which will allow you to take control of vehicles such as the Mantis (highly recommended indeed).

So there we have it. Halo 4 is a massive, high budget title which will more than appease fans of the series. It's a great start to 343 Industries 'Reclaimer Trilogy' and a fantastic sign of what is to come. If this developer can break free of Bungie's legacy then the future of Halo is looking very bright indeed.

Halo 4 may not be perfect, but it's certainly spectacular.

(Version Tested: Xbox 360)


- Spectacular cutscenes
- When 343 innovate this is one of the most impressive Halo games yet
- Feature packed multiplayer
- The Mantis is fantastic
- Great story telling


- Still feels like Bungie's Halo in places
- Campaign does have repetitive moments
- Could do with a few more epic moments in the campaign

Edited On 31 Oct, 2012

game of the year and i can not wait for this 1! made me so happy seeing they carried on the master chief story instead of reach and ODST!! roll on tuesday!!
0000000000 3 years ago
5 hour single player on what is the Xbox's biggest franchise? Is that normal for Halo games? I understand that Halo is more about the MP, but it seems that developers are getting worse at creating shorter SP, and I think it's wrong of them. I mean, why bother at all? Why not just tie some sort of story in to the MP. Kind of like what MAG did and quite a few RTS games on PC do.
adwan 3 years ago
xbox360achievements said it was 8-10 hours. Which made me happy, but I think Halo 3 was only about 6-7 hours campaign
Bruticus 3 years ago
take about 10 hours on legendary which aint bad for a FPS else they get stale.. long SP campaigns are more for the RPH franchise
0000000000 3 years ago
I've completed it. Five hours.
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Take it off Easy Joe! ;)
Bruticus 3 years ago
8-10 hours, when as Joe said he completed it in 5? You might get a few extra hours trying to get all the achievements and collectables in one play through, but to me that's not what the SP is about. It's about the story. Not all FPS games get stale after 10 hours, look at the likes of Borderlands, Fallout etc. They're FPS games, why couldn't Halo go down that route, flesh out the story, have side missions, upgrades etc etc? Why can't any game do that? Why do military FPS games have to have short stories, because they "might get boring"? It's not the case, they just want to focus on MP. Like I said, it could easily be done, and has been done, where to story for a military FPS can be tied in to the MP.
adwan 3 years ago
Putting the game on hard or legendary is what it takes to lengthen the SP? That's only because you spend that little bit extra time hiding behind cover or replaying sections because you died. Still doesn't change the actual length of the story does it??
adwan 3 years ago
Unfortunately for me, SP the main thing I play. Nothing will ever top the days I spent on Modern Warfare. Short SP campaigns make me sad, but it's also bad that most FPS developers do focus on MP. Take the last MOH. That was even developed seperately from the single player (which was crap). I know things won't change, so I need to get used to it....
Bruticus 3 years ago
I played through on Normal difficulty. :)
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
get it on legendary joe then come back and say u did it in 5 hours.. i will hail u as a god if u do lol
0000000000 3 years ago
Sounds like a rental for me, not bothered about the multiplayer at all.
Gloria 3 years ago
Sounds pretty good, 5 hours is a bit disappointing but i will play it through a few times on different difficulty's and co-op too. Online is what i am looking forward to the most though.
LFC Bywater 3 years ago
I just wish 343 experimented a bit more.
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
im hoping this isnt the last we see of halo series i hope they go for halo 5 and maybe if 4 is a big success they will experiment more with number 5.. fingers crossed
0000000000 3 years ago
I think i have read somewhere that this is going to be like a second trilogy, so there will be a Halo 5 and 6. Joe maybe they haven't experimented more because they are taking a casual approach in order to not upset the die-hard Halo fans? From what i have read in you're review i will be looking forward to this game.
Rachael 3 years ago
yeah u make a good point i read the same about another trilogy so let them get 4 out the way even thought i think its going to be amazing none the less and 5 and 6 they can really sink their teeth into it... only good things come from halo and they always get better with the next game! i wont count reach and ODST so halo 4 will blow halo 3 out the water!
0000000000 3 years ago
5 hours? Might have a go at legendary from the off.
Paddy 027 3 years ago
I usually play them on Heroic and then do Legendary afterwards. Then I don't get too frustrated while trying to enjoy the story. It also means I won't just play it once!
Bruticus 3 years ago
I'm not that good haha :D
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Looking forward to this!! Normal is always too easy though Joe! i'd still like to keep Dishonored on the game of the year but feel Halo 4 will probably get more votes :(
Pyroloveridge 3 years ago
dishonored is awesome.. love it!
0000000000 3 years ago
Bugger double post! apologies
Pyroloveridge 3 years ago
I can't wait to get stuck into the forge mode. Just waiting for dispatch now
Loli-Nox-Tan 3 years ago
I was expecting this to get unanimous 9's (or more), but i've seen quite a few 8's already.... same for ACIII & NFS:MW too..... GOTY awards are going to be really interesting this year... Fingers crossed Dishonored gets honoUred this year ; )
iamthe11oyd 3 years ago
nice wording lol but i agree dishonoured is superb
0000000000 3 years ago
They'll all get GOTY in some form or another as there are several publications/award ceremonies that give them, and that's enough for a GOTY labelled re-release.
adwan 3 years ago
Borderlands 2 is going to be game of the year :)
Gloria 3 years ago
Gloria, i'm in two minds about your vote..... I've sunk 30+ hours into Borderlands 2 (replaying the same 3-4 hours with all 5 characters now - don't ask) and it's categorically brilliant, and improves on the first game in every way.... However, if we never show enough attention to new IP, we also can't complain that there isn't enough originality in the industry... For that alone Dishonored gets my vote, but only fractionally ahead of Borderlands 2.
iamthe11oyd 3 years ago
Nice review Joe, sounds like it's going to be a belter of a game. On another note, how much did Dorito's/Mountain Dew offer you for it? :)
no47 3 years ago
Haha, they won't buy me :D
Joe Anderson (Editor) 3 years ago
Not exactly a glowing review there. Biggest pro is cutscenes? I think I need a proper score here... how many bags of Doritos out of ten does it get? :) The reviews I've seen from the more credible sources (And Eurogamer, which after last week probably doesn't count as "credible" anymore) seem to agree with the 'good not great' sentiments. I'll probably try it out, but I'm not expecting a classic here from all I've seen and heard.
PrometheusFan 3 years ago
I still haven't completed Halo 3 ODST or Halo Wars, despite them languishing on my game shelf. Would be trying to complete them now if it wasn't for XCOM getting in the way.
shiny miller 3 years ago
Does BTB Heavies have its own playlist?
HappyNoodleBoy 3 years ago
And it has been dispatched!!! Really wish that royal mail worked sundays, But hopefully it will be here monday!
LFC Bywater 3 years ago
I want to get this game at launch but I have a huge backlog.
ALIAS 3 years ago
I want to get this game at launch but I have a huge backlog.
ALIAS 3 years ago
i find if gamers finish it on easy its 5 hours,but whats the fun in that,i tend to play or rather try to play the game on its most hardest level which tends then to take me ages prob 20 hrs as only do a couple of hours a night so i get the most out of it,i cant understand why people wanna rush the game and finish it in one night,mp is the main thing these days i supose and will look forward to that as well,cant wait to get it tomorow morning
rick75fowler 3 years ago
The campaign was ok, but nothing special in my opinion. I believe 343 nailed the feel of the game and there was no doubt you were playing a Halo game, however the story, in my opinion, just wasn't that interesting. I got bored of the formula far too quickly. " go to point A and push a button, now to go point B and push another button" That's how the campaign was right the way through, constantly pushing buttons and inserting Cortana in and out of different terminals. I cannot fault the multiplayer, it's great and a hell of a lot of fun when playing with friends. I guess looking on the brightside is that despite the mediocre campaign, it's evident that 343 know what it takes to create a Halo game, and with this game being the first of a new trilogy, there is room for improvement, so there is no doubt that the next couple of games will fix some of the shortcomings of this entry.
Scatigno 3 years ago
kwok007's avatar
Hopefully this will arrive today :-) looking forward to the multiplayer
kwok007 3 years ago
Run, shoot, run, shoot, pretty graphic interlude, run, shoot, run, cutscene, run, shoot. My review. Note: sorry, not even played the game! ;)
Barada 2 years ago
mortal kombat
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