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Customer Review

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This isn't HALO, February 2, 2013
This review is from: Halo 4 - Xbox 360 (Standard Game) (Video Game)
First, let me first be candid: I own the rest of the franchise games, the best of which is HALO (including the anniversary edition by 343, it's a blast), the second best of which is REACH. I hate multiplayer because I'm not a high schooler who has unlimited time to sink into getting really good at headshots in video games, and let's face it, I hate playing on teams with those stoners and foul mouthed pre-teens that so marks XBOX live experience.
So I play the single payer or co-op games. And having just finished it again on Legendary I can say definitively that I still love every HALO game, and this is not HALO. I will be selling my copy. This review also contains spoilers.

The good -
(+)The graphics are life-like. They are truly excellent. I've never seen a game look so good.
(+)The sounds are amazing. Everything but the warthog engine sounds just right- big and rich and full of life. The covenant are speaking an alien language again (thank you!) and it sounds menacing and immersive. When you are fortunate enough to hear them chatting it's a true delight.
(+)The shooting is smooth, the armor abilities don't feel over powered, or useless, and the damage tables feel well balanced.
(+) The music I'll put here too, because it's really excellent, but it's also completely forgettable. I miss the bombastic theme of the Bungie games, and while HALO 4 puts me in the right mood, it doesn't stay with you when you shut off the console.
(+) You can run people over with the hog again. I always loved that.

The bad - It's the little things that ruined this game for me, honestly. And they were considerable -

Housekeeping - I dropped my heavy weapon to save ammo, picked up a small gun, killed the dog, got the checkpoint, went to pick up my big gun again and find that it's now gone.

The captain - He's a teenage girl. Yells at everything, runs away and hides, throw temper tantrums. Believes other people he's jealous of to be worthless. I have only ever found the most honorable and decent of people at the command positions, people who were upright and disciplined. Making me hate the commander of the Infinity for no reason is just foolish. Remember Captain Keys? That's how you do it game designers.

Cortana - Why did the game creators make it look like she's trying to seduce me with a hot body and very little clothing? Because otherwise the 14 year old guys won't be as attached to her at her death? This distracted me from her face, which was where the real expression was.

Hall way shooter - Not even the original HALO constrained you to one path, but this was one very long hall all the way through the game. Your are constrained to a hall way even outdoors when you are driving a tank, or in a pelican flying around.

No ammo - the more you play the less you notice this, but some guns are completely unsuitable for use, like the plasma pistol which gets like 10 regular shots before it's out of ammo. What kind of military makes a gun that can't be fired? Why must I always go to weapon racks to find the guns rather than just pick them up off the bodies of my slain enemies?

The dialogue - some of the worst I have seen. When I played through initially I didn't get much of it because my TV speakers are basic and the music and gunfire drowned it out. So I turned on subtitles (oh and here's another thing: they don't stay on. Every time you boot up the game you have to turn them back on, which I hate) and the dialogue is exposed for what it is, another appeal to the teenage gamer. I can hear the board room discussion now: "Give the gamers something they will be familiar with, make Cortana say: *Sob* Chief unfriended me on facebook!!!! Then Chief can say "Its cool baby, let's watch __(latest teen age girl trend event)___ together so I can show I still love you."

One Fixed solution - playing through on heroic the first time I thought this game was rough, and it was going to be impossible on Legendary. When I played it on Legendary I found that it was a cakewalk. This is because nothing is random, and all I needed to do was remember the triggers, run to a spawn point, wait for the enemy to appear in front of me, then hit them in the back. That's not fun. But speaking of this problem, let me also point out that if 343 studios didn't want you to do something, you can't do it, and that's the complete opposite of the original HALO. For example, in the second level I drove the warthog all the way into the structure, but once you press that button it vanishes. There another scene not long after where you can take a banshee, but they put an invisible roof on you to constrain your height so that no matter where you go the ground enemies can still shoot you. In the mammoth level I wanted to take the tank into the ravine phase and shoot up the covenant rather than counter snipe, but no, I can't cross that shallow bit of water in a HOVER tank. No problem I say, I'll take the gauss hog into the Mammoth and have it drive me over the murderous stream. The next thing I know I'm outside the vehicle as it's blowing up and for no reason they have taken my ride apart. Taking vehicles through portals? No. The message is clear: you will use the guns we want you to use, when we want you to use it, how we want you to use it. No thanks. You might as well play the game for me while you are at it.

The Prometheans - the worst negative of them all. Unending hordes of mook dogs running around soaking up ammo, forcing you to shoot them in the head with a rifle. Stupid knights that watch me as I walk behind them and hit them in the back if I first put up an auto sentry. Designers thinking that to make a harder game all you need is a longer hall way and more knights. These enemies are just unbearable after 5 minutes, and that never changes. "Hey guys, one of the memorable things about HALO was that everyone hated the flood zombies because it's just the same thing over and over, and they got weary of the monotony. Why don't we make them digital, like TRON, and they can be the new flood, and we can have them in like, every level!"

The multi-media approach - This one had designed by committee all over it, "Hey, let's have them go to halo waypoint, or the internet so they can actually understand the story of what they are playing, and who the other characters are!" "Yeah great idea! We can take the relevant stuff out of the game, and put it online."
Grenades - they land right next to me and I don't care, nor even move, because they don't do any damage. What kind of HALO game is that?

The control terminals - here I am playing, thinking, please no more `insert Cortana into terminal' parts, and right then I have three more terminals to insert her into. *sigh*

The cut scenes - Yes they are beautiful, but they are all together over an hour long. In a five hour game they are therefore a fifth of the game. Am I playing this thing or not? And who designed them anyway? Why didn't the person who directed Forward unto Dawn, which was excellent, do this too?

The little things - when I started the level in the hanger I have to shoot the marines and spartans around me before I can trade their guns. Just... why?

The real problem is that there was a simple excellence about the HALO series that is really what people loved and 343 couldn't get that right- they forgot the smile. The carefree, humorous, fun wild romp through the blood of squid like aliens and space zombies. In those games the marines are mouthy, the grunts when stuck by a grenade would yell "not again" or when you die "thank the nipple!" Chief, who doesn't say anything because he doesn't need to, is a Spartan. Talks little, disciplined much. His armor, which has the same name as the hammer of Thor, is a tongue in cheek reference to the fact that he's a god wielding this unstoppable skill set and equipment. But now 343 comes along and makes it all so serious, and bungles the job when doing so. The other Spartans shouldn't say "Thought you'd be taller" to the man who single handedly destroyed every enemy humanity ever had. The captain shouldn't yell, Hallsley shouldn't be interrogated, it makes absolutely no sense to say the Chief was the pinnacle of human evolution, or that the Librarian foresaw all these things like only God Himself could. You know what I mean, it plain old fun when the elite grabs Johnsons butt at the end of HALO, but to junk that in favor of a serious story where plot holes abound is just trash. That needs to be said again. I could forgive a funny game, but this is just junk.
343 Studios had a good try at it, it's beautiful, but it's not a good game. I hear that multi-player is terrible too, and I'm not surprised. So if you get this play it once and toss it, you and I deserve better.
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Location: Sacramento CA

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