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EGM Halo 4 review


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Initial post: Nov 2, 2012 10:30:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2012 10:30:39 AM PDT
http://www.egmnow.com/articles/reviews/egm-review-halo-4/

"An ancient formula lumbers along

The first 15 minutes of Halo 4 almost fooled me. Taking the fondly familiarized formula of a recently awakened Master Chief under siege and standing it on its ear, the opening moments of 343i's first flight in the captain's chair looked a lot like a revolution. Halo 4 comes out flexing like the Hulkster, showing off a drastically improved lighting engine, a pair of perilous interactive sequences, and a white-knuckle grasp of the elements that made the Xbox family's flagship title what it is today. In fact, Halo 4 looked an awful lot like the future of sci-fi shooters.

But after the thrill of better visuals wore off and the eager anticipation for more non-shooting thrills went mysteriously unfulfilled, I was left with a frustratingly similar Halo experience that other top-tier shooters have long since blasted into the oblivion of dog-tired gaming conventions. And while many of the Forge faithful will breathe a resounding sigh of relief at the sameness of it all, I can't help but wonder if yet another by-the-book romp was what we needed.

That's not to say that 343 Industries didn't give it the ol' college try, as they attempted to infuse some emotion into the plot by leveraging the fan-favorite dynamic between Chief and Cortana. But beyond some brilliantly rendered cutscenes and an amazing performance from voice actress Jen Taylor as everyone's favorite blue buddy, Halo 4 fell woefully flat in its attempt to grab me.

A large part of this problem stems from the fact that, unlike most modern games that claim to care about narrative, Halo 4 doesn't seem interested in moving into modern storytelling via integrated objectives, causing the campaign to quickly degenerate into a rinse-repeat relay of pumping way too many bullets into the same half-dozen enemies over and over on your way to pushing some random-ass button or blowing up a shield generator-only to find yourself forced to backtrack through yet another sea of the same bad guys who've magically spawned in behind your position.

These low points are openly exacerbated by the series' staunch refusal to get with the times when it comes to game mechanics and level design, ignoring obvious enhancements like big-ticket sequences and proper iron-sights mechanics in favor of their age-old addiction to slow, methodical combat in unnecessarily large environments. And while I get that 343i was deathly afraid to come in and mess with the elements most consider Halo canon, it's a lot to ask of us who play other games in the genre to continue to stomach a core most left behind half a decade ago. Mind you, some folks might find the videogame equivalent of being forced to eat your vegetables a comforting alternative to Microsoft putting a dash of modern in their combat, but when stacked up to Dishonored, Far Cry 3, and Black Ops II, Halo 4's campaign feels as empty and uninspired as its strong, silent protagonist.

Conversely, multiplayer's one of the strongest efforts in the category in ages, offering full campaign co-op for up to four combatants, episodic co-op Spartan Ops missions, and the newly dubbed "War Games" in a vastly playable smorgasbord of violence. Also included are a host of intelligent enhancements and peer-inspired upgrade mechanics that make the ills of story mode seem like a bad dream.

So, with all that said, is Halo 4 a bad game? Not at all. It's clearly an impassioned effort by a lot of well-meaning folks who wanted to give the fans more of what they've come to know and love. But the fact that they delivered on precisely that isn't exactly evidence that they've built the game the series deserves. From where I'm sitting, "good" just isn't good enough for Halo anymore. Chief has cracked enough skulls at this point, and I just won't be blown away until his handlers find the guts to finally break the mold.

SUMMARY: It's been an impressive run, but after a decade of the same basic experience, I can't escape the feeling that Halo needs to try a bit harder. Fans of the game will have a blast here, and the multiplayer is something special, but if you expected Halo 4 to keep up with the Joneses, you might be disappointed.

THE GOOD: An excellent representation of the Halo franchise from "newcomer" 343i.
THE BAD: That representation is the same old formula we've played for years.
THE UGLY: The thought of anyone being romantically involved with the Didact.
SCORE: 7.0"

....They gave MW3 a 9....................W.................................T...........................................ACTUAL..........................................................F...........................................

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 10:34:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2012 10:34:51 AM PDT
"An excellent representation of the Halo franchise"

'Nuff said.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:35:43 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 22, 2013 5:32:37 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:36:07 AM PDT
This review was one of the worst and most hypocritical that I've ever read.....

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:37:16 AM PDT
"Also, I'm finally playing through Halo 3 and I'm finding that it feels very dated. It is, of course, but man it sure looks and feels like a last-gen game. Borderlands is leaps and bounds better than Halo."

*spits water* oh man, I thought Borderlands was one of the most boring games I've ever played

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:37:36 AM PDT
GarionOrb says:
So Halo 4 gets a 7 because it's the "same old formula", but MW3 gets a 9...ignoring the fact that CoD has been giving us the "same old formula" every single year. Hmm...

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 10:37:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2012 10:38:36 AM PDT
uncledonnie3 says:
"These low points are openly exacerbated by the series' staunch refusal to get with the times when it comes to game mechanics and level design, ignoring obvious enhancements like big-ticket sequences and proper iron-sights mechanics in favor of their age-old addiction to slow, methodical combat in unnecessarily large environments. And while I get that 343i was deathly afraid to come in and mess with the elements most consider Halo canon, it's a lot to ask of us who play other games in the genre to continue to stomach a core most left behind half a decade ago."

This person doesn't want a Halo game. They want a sci fi Call of Duty.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:38:29 AM PDT
"So Halo 4 gets a 7 because it's the "same old formula", but MW3 gets a 9...ignoring the fact that CoD has been giving us the "same old formula" every single year. Hmm..."

Ex-f^&$#@!-actly

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:38:59 AM PDT
Is it the same reviewer?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:38:59 AM PDT
"This person doesn't want a Halo game. They want a sci fi Call of Duty."

Pretty much.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:39:05 AM PDT
MrFoxhound says:
I loved the first BL, but I had enough by time I reached the level cap. I never even got into the DLC. Borderlands 2 was so boring, right from the start when I got control of the character. If they put a 2 in the name, can we skip the stupid, tutorial area please? I never got out of the ice area there. I literally fell asleep while going from one bandit camp to the other.

I fell asleep while playing a game. That's crazy.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:39:29 AM PDT
I don't know actually, but that's a good question.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:39:33 AM PDT
Definitely.

Some websites are more desperate for hits than others, I suppose.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:39:55 AM PDT
MrFoxhound says:
Battlefield 2142 Deluxe Edition - PC

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:40:36 AM PDT
FOGE says:
Uh oh Holly. H A L O 4 I S 7 . 0 R A G E W E I N E R

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:42:03 AM PDT
Nah, it has a 90 on Metacritic. One mediocre review isn't going to do anything about that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:42:45 AM PDT
FOGE says:
Cmon man...

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 10:43:50 AM PDT
XP

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 11:25:20 AM PDT
DVvM says:
7 is a good score.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 11:40:44 AM PDT
"in unnecessarily large environments"

This phrase, as much as anything, worries me. Before shooters came to consoles (and even in the early HALO: Combat Evolved) open environments were a big part of what made playing a shooter so fun. I still remember the intense moments in HALO when my buddies and I had to cross a giant battleground on stolen hover bikes while being pounded by that blue artillery stuff the Covenant uses. It was amazing. Compare that to the work-a-day crumbling city streets of games like CoD (and even games like Crysis 2) and they just don't compare.

I'm not a huge fan of everything HALO does (usually their narratives are ludicrous and I flat out hated the Flood and the overused "library" sections), but the big environments and the pacing of the encounters was one thing that they did better than anyone else. We don't NEED every moment to be an explosive-packed setpiece that looks like it was designed by Michael Bay! Sometimes you need lulls to have lols, ya know?

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 11:42:11 AM PDT
I think the review was great, but the final score was way off. How can that even happen!?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 11:42:56 AM PDT
JO MOMMA says:
So Warfighter is better than Halo 4?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 11:43:49 AM PDT
This is better than Halo 4 according to half the VGF.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 11:45:06 AM PDT
God I hope not....

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 11:45:41 AM PDT
Meh. I know Halo 4 is much better.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  33
Total posts:  109
Initial post:  Nov 2, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 4, 2012

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