Halo 4

My (spoiler-free) thoughts.
A portrait photograph of Gareth Latty.

So, I finished Halo 4, and thought I’d give a quick outburst of what I thought. I’m going to talk about the game as a whole, not anything plot-wise, so no spoilers.

tl;dr: Good, the storytelling is excellent, but the gameplay has slightly lost a step.

So, the first thing I’ll say is that it annoys me this isn’t available on PC. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks great, but it could look better, and I had a lot of frame-rate issues (one time slowing down to a complete crawl). They are clearly pushing the 360 to it’s absolute limit, but it’s amazing what they have done with such old hardware. I can’t imagine the optimisation that must be going on.

I really enjoyed the game, and 343 have done the right thing. While I still question the move of going back to the chief (there is a lot else in the Halo universe that could have been more interesting), the focus of this game is plot, and it shows. This game felt, in a great many ways, like a Mass Effect game. Now, there is no moral choice, no RPG elements, but the art, music, new enemies and plot all feel very Mass Effect-y, while remaining true to Halo as well. That’s a great thing, as Mass Effect is the pinnacle of sci-fi storytelling in gaming at the moment.

The game was fun, and feels like Halo still. 343 have stayed true to the series, except they have allowed more plot in the game. As a fan of the Halo books and related media, and someone who adored Forward Unto Dawn (the mini-series released recently to advertise the game), this is welcome. The Halo universe is great, and the games never really let it shine.

Unfortunately, the game-play was a little weak in places. My main problem is the new enemies - they were not fun to fight. This is essentially the same problem we had with Halo 2, where the brutes were just not a fun enemy to fight. I found these enemies annoying rather than challenging, and likewise didn’t really like the new weapons that were introduced. It’s not terrible, and I feel Halo 2 is an apt comparison - alright, but not as good as before. Fortunately, they are not the whole game, so this wasn’t always an issue, but it was the sour note on what is otherwise a really good game.

There are also a few Halo moments, which were generally really enjoyable, I can’t say too much without spoiling stuff, but there were some awesome scenes that were great.

I definitely recommend giving it a play, and I’m looking forward to where 343 Studios take the plot.