A Halo veteran's view of Halo 4

I am a huge fan of the halo franchise and I have put lots of hours into all the games. But Halo 4 is the first Halo game I have not bought because I disagreed with several of the design choices, but I kept my eye on it because there were some ideas that I genuinely liked.

I recently got the chance to play some of it at a friends house and here is what I think of it.

It shoots Reach out of the water. I suppose the franchise changing hands ended up being a good move in the long run. The disaster that was Halo Reach just showed how tired Bungie was of the franchise and 343 was able to handle the franchise decently. However in my personal opinion it doesn't quite measure up to Halo 2 or 3.

MULTIPLAYER
I would never call it a bad game, I would easily call it a good game. Fast paced and entertaining. But I wouldn't call it a good Halo game, at least compared to its predecessors. Its major flaw is that it lacks personality. Instead of focussing on what made Halo unique 343 decided to adopt influences from other games, most notably COD. The influence is most apparent in the new class system and map design. Because players get to choose what weapons they start with there are few weapons placed on the map, and even those are power weapons. This negatively impact the map design and results in boring linear maps with no defining features. Halo 4s map design follows the designs of COD almost to a T. Put players in a big box. There are three routes to each side. The middle route that is the most dangerous and exposed and the two side routes, they tend to be corridors, with slightly smaller passages connecting all the routes in different areas. It all makes for this great game of ring around the rosy as player chase each other around the map. There was little to no though given to the type of engagements players would have on each map and the game suffers for it. Just BR/Carbine/DMR battles with the occasional power weapon tossed in. You could argue that Halo was like this before, but weapons placed on the map would allow players the change their strategy in an instant. This no longer happens as you have to stick to what you have.

Maps would be designed with specific engagements in mind.
For example:
Off the top of my head, Epitaph. In the middle of the map a rocket was placed on a platform raised above everything else. There is a risk reward situation. If a player goes for the rockets he exposes himself to fire from his enemies and may die, but if he is able to reach it in time the player has the perfect vantage point from which to shoot the rockets. This is what made Halo fun and interesting for me.

Due to the ordinance drops and reduction in power weapon spawns this type of thinking is missing from the map design and it makes things boring. Conclusion boring maps hurt the experience and from the ones I played on I wasn't impressed.

Just a nitpick but we played a game of oddball on some forerunner map and I swear the blue team blended right into the map. The blue background coupled with the sun glare constantly had me being ambushed by blue players that almost materialized right in front of me. Of course this might have just been because I was playing split screen, it is just something I noticed while playing.

Sprinting is probably the only influence from COD that I welcome with open arms because it actually adds something to the game. It allows players to engage more quickly which is a good thing. It is this feature only that is responsible for the increase in pace of the game and is a welcome change after how slow the Reach spartans were.

ASCETIC CHOICES
The spartans look like shit for the most part. Many look like the nano suit and transformers put together and Halo's personality is really lost in this aspect. In the previous installments of Halo you could always tell that the Spartans were part of the human military, now they just look weird and alien. Like they don't belong in the Halo universe. The color change from blue to green in some for the covenant lighting was really weird as well. Otherwise I had no qualms an I really liked how 343 was really able to make parts of the game look like paintings come to life.

Music was a bit lacking, but I can't really blame 343 for that. I just associate Marty's music with Halo, his music is a big part of what it is. Its will take time for me to get used to this new guy, at least he tried his best.

CAMPAIGN
Solid, I played the prologue and enjoyed it as it was very atmospheric, like metroid prime. An influence that doesn't feel at all out of place in a Halo game. Quick time events were a bit wonky but they didn't really detract anything from the experience, they were just there. I then skipped to a later mission were Cortana asks Chief, "figure out which one of us is the human, and which one of us is the machine."

I liked that, if Halo 4 was going to have any impact or relevance it would have to focus on Cortana and Chief's relationship. I approve of that direction of the story, as well as the implied obsolescence of Chief and foreshadowing a possible fall from grace. I can't say anything about the protheans as I didn't really get to fight them, but I'm not sure if they will be strong enough villains to carry the franchise if Cortana is gone.

FINAL VERDICT
A good game that is fun and faced paced, but it is lacking in some areas that long time Halo fans may notice. While I am not a huge fan of the game I will admit that Halo 4 is worthy of the Halo name, but it remains to be seen if 343 can really bring Halo back or have it wither on the vine.

Don't you think this would be a bit more appropriate in the user reviews section? I don't want to pounce on you (as this is gaming related), but I think you would like the reception to this post better over there.

Have to say, the more I've played of the multiplayer, the less I like it. It doesn't have the 'zany' feel of the previous games, where people could come at you with a whole host of different weapons- needlers, fuel rod cannons, shotguns, etc. Now, it just feels like everyone's just using the DMR/ Battle Rifle, and all the other stuff is relegated to the side.

I also hate the fact that they got rid of dual wielding. I've no idea why they felt the need to do that. Reach, it was kind of understandable, being a thrownback to the first game. But why didn't 343 bring it back for 4? Dual wielding meant that you could take even rubbishy weapons like the Plasma Pistol or the SMG and unleash carnage with them. Without it, all the Plasma Pistol is good for is spamming Wraiths.

Op, I largely agree with your post and consider it an accurate assessment about how Halo 4 is. I would, however, like to expand upon it.

Halo 4 has unquestionably the most balanced multiplayer of any game in the series. It has so, however, at the cost of everything else. Ordinance drops combined with loadouts have drained the life out of maps. All encounters at all ranges on every single map are exactly the same.

I like the idea of loadouts, but they should be limited depending on what game mode you are playing. Each gametype should provide players with a small selection of primary weapons and AA's so the player can have a personalized experience without homogenizing gameplay across the board.

For example, in regular Slayer, players would only be able to select a Assault Rifle, Storm Rifle, or Suppressor as their primary, and a Magnum secondary (In addition to Armor ability). In Slayer BR's, players could have Battle Rifles, Carbines, and DMR primaries, and an automatic weapon or a Magnum as their secondary (Again, in addition to Armor Ability). This would strike a balance between customization and gameplay variety.

Honestly, Halo 4's multiplayer is probably my favorite in the series. It doesn't feel quite so uniquely Halo any more, which is problematic, but the stuff 343 took from CoD actually makes it better. My only real problem is that the only weapons people use are the BR, DMR and occasionally the Light Rifle, because every engagement is just a medium-long range semi-auto duel. I miss unleashing flurries of automatic gunfire and actually getting kills.

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Halo 4 has unquestionably the most balanced multiplayer of any game in the series.

Halo:CE would like to have a word with you.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Have to say, the more I've played of the multiplayer, the less I like it. It doesn't have the 'zany' feel of the previous games, where people could come at you with a whole host of different weapons- needlers, fuel rod cannons, shotguns, etc. Now, it just feels like everyone's just using the DMR/ Battle Rifle, and all the other stuff is relegated to the side.

I also hate the fact that they got rid of dual wielding. I've no idea why they felt the need to do that. Reach, it was kind of understandable, being a thrownback to the first game. But why didn't 343 bring it back for 4? Dual wielding meant that you could take even rubbishy weapons like the Plasma Pistol or the SMG and unleash carnage with them. Without it, all the Plasma Pistol is good for is spamming Wraiths.

Yeah it feels a lot more sterile, a direct result of the poor map design. They are designed only for BR fights. I really don't know what they were thinking whit ordinance drops, it's like declawing a cat. Bad maps, that is honestly the biggest thing getting in the way of me buying it. But it isn't a lost cause, 343 can learn from their mistakes and still make Halo 5 a game that will please even more fans.

ultrachicken:
Honestly, Halo 4's multiplayer is probably my favorite in the series. It doesn't feel quite so uniquely Halo any more, which is problematic, but the stuff 343 took from CoD actually makes it better. My only real problem is that the only weapons people use are the BR, DMR and occasionally the Light Rifle, because every engagement is just a medium-long range semi-auto duel. I miss unleashing flurries of automatic gunfire and actually getting kills.

Oh some fools still use the autoguns, but their K/D tends to be negative all the time.

Skin:

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Halo 4 has unquestionably the most balanced multiplayer of any game in the series.

Halo:CE would like to have a word with you.

The Halo 1 pistol made it the most unbalanced, there was literally no use for half the guns because you spawned with the pistol and it did the most damage, had a scope, and had amazing accuracy.

I HATE how the Spartans look in this. That was one of the only parts of reach I really liked. They look way too sleek and sophisticated in 4.

This is a really great review. It's very in depth. I might rent it for the campaign but by the way the multiplayer sounds, I won't be purchasing this. The thing I loved about previous Halo multiplayer was the way the maps were set up and everyone competing for weapon spawns. Taking this away definitely detracts greatly from the multiplayer experience.

Skin:

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Halo 4 has unquestionably the most balanced multiplayer of any game in the series.

Halo:CE would like to have a word with you.

I raise you one CE pistol. Your argument is invalid.

Haven't played far too much of the campaign, but overall, I'm really happy with this game. I mean sure, I hat the DMR, but I've been dealing with that for awhile. The fights are fun, I like that power weapons are more or less randomised, and the combat feels pretty well balanced.

As for the look of the Spartans, some of them look dumb, others look cool. But that's been halo since 3. I either really like some armor or really hate it. But in 4, I think they look a little wimpy as a way to show that there is not as much money being thrown into making a Spartan. They're cheaper and easier to produce than the II counterparts. So, the armor is a lot less bulky.

Oh,don't play as a girl. Good god there is something wrong with the design. They just pasted the armor over a very skinny body; it doesn't look right at all.

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Skin:

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Halo 4 has unquestionably the most balanced multiplayer of any game in the series.

Halo:CE would like to have a word with you.

I raise you one CE pistol. Your argument is invalid.

Explain how it is unbalanced if everyone starts with it?

This aught to be good.

I don't think Spartan design in multiplayer has mattered since Bungie put the ridiculous Ninja Gaiden armour in 3. Also, you need to remember that these are a new generation of Spartans (IV) whereas 1-3 was II and Reach was III (I think), so they're obviously going to look different.

Skin:

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Skin:

Halo:CE would like to have a word with you.

I raise you one CE pistol. Your argument is invalid.

Explain how it is unbalanced if everyone starts with it?

This aught to be good.

Just because everyone starts with it doesn't mean it's not an unbalanced weapon. Using that argument, every Halo game is perfectly balanced because everyone has the chance to start with the exact same weapon. It's unbalanced because it becomes the only weapon people use.

I really agree with you on the aesthetics of Spartans being overdone. But I do find the multiplayer to have improved to be fast-paced and friendly to all gamers. Considering Halo 3's approach (which was still the best), of course.

I just beat Halo 4's campaign, have yet to do the multiplayer but I never really cared for that anyways.

I'd say that this is probably the best campaign since the original. IMHO, Halo 2 & 3's campaigns were just shit. ODST was at least atmospheric and entertaining, and Reach had a couple good points. Halo 4 does have really good level design and all the guns are fun to use, especially the Promethean weapons. I love running around and switching guns with whatever I happen to come across in the middle of a fight. So awesome when you end up with a binary rifle and 2 shot the Knight about to kill you (though it sucks when you accidentally end up with hologram). The campaign was really good overall, though story was still a bit lackluster. I guess it's better than ODST and Reach, though Halo was never strong in the story department, except for the first one. Maybe I'm just kinda biased now that we can shoot something besides Covenant. After 10 years, I'm kinda tired of them. 1 - 3 had the Flood, but that didn't help because the first game did it the best, so the others just felt like they were doing it wrong. Knights are actually really tough (though I was playing on Heroic) and those dogs things love to flank you.

I am still mad that we don't get a good boss fight though, Halo 2 was the only one to have them and they were pretty bad then. Halo 3's Monitor fight was just laughable but Halo 4's final boss is another Quick Time Event. I don't mind them, even as finishing moves, but that's all it is. And a pretty crappy QTE at that. That and the vehicle levels still suck. I've never liked Halo's vehicle levels and this game does them just as badly. The only one that really worked in the series was the Silent Cartographer because that gave you some freedom. All the other vehicle levels in the series just don't work for me, Halo 4's in particular. The Mantis level and couple tank bits were all really boring and I just wanted to get out and shoot stuff. Also, the equipment really shouldn't have been in campaign. The hardlight shield was the only one that was useful, I never found Promethean vision after that one contextual point in the game, cloak only works when you don't move or crouch, and they don't shoot the holograms. The whole system doesn't really work in single player.

I don't want to make the game look bad by pointing out all the things that annoyed me. I still really enjoyed it and I think it's the best one of the series (besides the original of course). Although I haven't tried the multiplayer yet, but I don't have Xbox Live and never really cared for any of the predecessors' multiplayer, so maybe I just have no taste.

I disagree with the common consensus of the people comparing halo 4 and reach. I thought that reach was fantastic, it made me feel emotional at the end and that all of the missions and motives made sense to me. 4's story felt kinda choppy because of some characters acting like complete @$$ holes and completely unrealistic. Some of the portions where you have to repeat a few actions multiple times made me feel kind of bored (VAGUE SPOILER...) like on the gondola and near the endgame where you have to jump to multiple platforms to complete the same actions over and over again.

Reach's end also made me feel more emotional and almost to the point of crying because noble 6 was basically the player him/herself. The armor, the voice, the experience and rank of 6 were all choices the player made. While (OMEGA SPOILER.............)

summary: Immersion broken

I always liked the weapon variety in halo where each and every weapon had their own counterpart in the other faction but there was enough differences with the plasma and ballistic weapons to make each and every weapon unique. However I just don't see this with the Promethean weapons because they feel so redundant. They're just fusions of the plasma and the ballistic that strip away the characteristics that made the weapons feel so unique (well to me anyways). Overall I thought that 4 was good, just not as good as Reach. Anyway that's just my two cents.

ultrachicken:
I miss unleashing flurries of automatic gunfire and actually getting kills.

Halo2 dual wield Needles and MachineGun = slaughter xD
That was my favorite non-proftable combo :D

On Topic:
I haven't played Halo four but things mentioned here are the same things I've heard from my friends.

Haefulz:

Skin:

The Lazy Blacksmith:
I raise you one CE pistol. Your argument is invalid.

Explain how it is unbalanced if everyone starts with it?

This aught to be good.

Just because everyone starts with it doesn't mean it's not an unbalanced weapon. Using that argument, every Halo game is perfectly balanced because everyone has the chance to start with the exact same weapon. It's unbalanced because it becomes the only weapon people use.

Ok, so what makes it unbalanced? As far as I recall, it got owned by the sniper long range, owned by the shotgun and PR at short range and owned by rockets at any range.

It fulfilled its role as a mid-range jack of all trades gun.

Skin:

The Lazy Blacksmith:

Skin:

Halo:CE would like to have a word with you.

I raise you one CE pistol. Your argument is invalid.

Explain how it is unbalanced if everyone starts with it?

This aught to be good.

Having one superweapon for everyone does not make it balanced. If everyone started off with the ion cannon in Unreal Tournament, it's not balanced, it just makes all the other guns pointless.

Blade1130:
Also, the equipment really shouldn't have been in campaign. The hardlight shield was the only one that was useful, I never found Promethean vision after that one contextual point in the game, cloak only works when you don't move or crouch, and they don't shoot the holograms. The whole system doesn't really work in single player.

Hardlight shield only one that was useful?

What, you didn't use the auto sentry? The device that would both draw enemy fire, and kill enemies? I'd just throw that up and it would kill or at least scare off the stupid floating bastards.

I never found the hardlight shield useful, I'd throw it up and still get my ass shot off so, either it wasn't working or I was surrounded by bad guys and the uni-directional shield didn't matter. (played the campaign on legendary)

deeman010:
I disagree with the common consensus of the people comparing halo 4 and reach. I thought that reach was fantastic, it made me feel emotional at the end and that all of the missions and motives made sense to me. 4's story felt kinda choppy because of some characters acting like complete @$$ holes and completely unrealistic. Some of the portions where you have to repeat a few actions multiple times made me feel kind of bored (VAGUE SPOILER...) like on the gondola and near the endgame where you have to jump to multiple platforms to complete the same actions over and over again.

You're exaggerating. The gondola thing only stopped twice, and even then when you go to the next area the challenge is different.

I don't really get the emotional bit at all. The only game that gave me any sense of awe was ODST personally, the post-battle cityscape was pretty cool.

But otherwise, I dunno whatever. In most of the games I just wish Cortana would shut her trap. Particularly that bit on Halo 3 where you're battling the flood (about 2/3rds of the way in), she's talking and talking about a bunch of meaningless shit the whole time you're fighting through. And when you play on legendary, you hear that crap over and over and over.

Same with Halo 4, throw Cortana in a terminal "hold them off while I open the door". Then I died 30-40 times. It's just a friggin door, open it you stupid AI and quit talking.

Even Forward Unto Dawn, the whole bit with Cortana blabbing at the start, I just wanted that intro to end because I didn't care about it. Wanted to see the story instead, even if it was a bit predictable.

Though any fan of Halo should go check out Episode 19 of a podcast called Vic's basement (done by the Reviews on the Run guys):

http://epdaily.tv/all/type-of/news/episode-19/
(or itunes https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/vics-basement/id544958335 )

They talk to the creative director of Halo 4, and he gives some interesting insights into Cortana in the game. I think the podcast is pretty spoiler free but don't hold me to that.

I have a few words for everyone who used the the single/burst fire weapons.

TASTE THE FURY OF MY HALO JUMP!!!!!!!

95% I will win my engagements because it's harder to aim at the head when the head is flying around like a maniac! AAAAAAAND I use an ASSAULT RIFLE!!! I come first against allllll the assholes running around with DMRs. it's all about fighting the enemy on YOUR terms. No, I don't want to run across the open bridge with 3 enemies who are using 3 DMRs waiting there for me. Instead I'll go down and around and take them out with my close range weapon while halo jumping.

I don't get people complaining that the AR is mostly useless now. It was basically useless in every previous Halo as well, where everyone would run up to each other firing, run out of ammo, and then get the melee kill. At least now I don't have to run halfway across the map for a good select fire weapon that isn't the magnum. That being said, the multiplayer isn't the Halo I came to love, it's a CoD/Halo collective that I find is still quite a lot of fun. I haven't tried big team, but if Slayer is anything to go off of it, it might be fun with the dropped weapons. I mean, it'll definitely help with vehicles basically controlling the entire map.

 

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