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Customer Review

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic FPS is Successful Without Innovation, November 11, 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Halo 4 - Xbox 360 (Standard Game) (Video Game)
Halo 4, like its five predecessors in the series, is a simple, entertaining first-person shooter. Its graphics are cutting-edge, its story is well-written and self-contained (no cliffhanger!), and its gameplay is the same perennial success that the Halo series always enjoys.

Its single-player campaign does have a great deal more in common with the earlier games in the series, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 2, than the later offerings. Significant tracts of cutscene are devoted to exposition for new fans or fans that don't follow the larger Halo multimedia storyline. For players not invested in this story, it could get tedious. The game inherited little of Halo 3's relentless climactic action.

Perhaps the most damning aspect of Halo 4's plot is the grim realization that Halo 3 killed off all of the brilliant supporting cast that made the first three Halo games so much fun to play. Avery Johnson, the Arbiter, and 343 Guilty Spark have been replaced by characters who I'm sure will eventually grow into familiar personalities but who are for now shades of their predecessors. Even Cortana, now in the grip of rampancy, is a shadow of who she was in the previous game.

The game marks a clear return to the traditional Halo school of level design: assault [Forerunner facility] containing [2 or 3] identical [communication relays/power nodes/data clusters] which must be [activated/deactivated/destroyed] before you can continue.

The game does a marginally better job of providing variety in these objectives than the early Halo games, but unfortunately most of this variety is the result of the addition of a new enemy force and their accompanying weaponry. Repetition of identical locations makes good logical sense when creating a setting, but remains questionable gameplay design.

The multiplayer experience is robust as always, including the usual competitive options, a cooperative campaign, and additional episodic cooperative content that is a new and welcome addition to the Halo franchise. Regrettably, the developers elected to eliminate player experience point gains from campaign play, and Halo: Reach's commendation system has been stripped back significantly.

The gameplay is obviously focused more directly on the die-hard competitive Halo player, further illustrated by the fact that character customizability is largely locked at the beginning of the game - not counting preorder bonuses, armor color is just about the only element of character design available for customization without spending "Spartan Points," the game's metacurrency.

In conclusion, Halo 4 is a Halo game worth playing, but Halo Reach remains the jewel in the Halo crown in terms of gameplay and Halo 3 retains the mantle of best story. In some sense, it is good and understandable that the developers left themselves some room to grow, as Halo 5 and Halo 6 are foregone conclusions at this point, but it would have been nice to see more of Halo 3's narrative punch and Halo: Reach's entertainment value in this title.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 28, 2012 12:08:23 PM PST
No innovation? This game is, in a technical sense, the best competitive online shooter on a console platform. Surpassing even, again in a technical sense, all the other games in the series.
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