Article written by Kris Lipscombe.
Published on 01/11/2012 at 07:01 AM.
Someone really needs to cut Master Chief a break.
The guyâ€™s saved humanity more times than I can count, and all it results in is him being sent on progressively crazier missions or being left adrift in the wastes of deep space. That is, if youâ€™ll recall, where we left Master Chief last time, drifting aboard the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. Conveniently itâ€™s also where we pick up, with Master Chiefâ€™s ride under attack from the Covenant.
Yes, the Covenant are back and seem just as determined as ever to kill the poor Chief. If youâ€™ve been following Halo 4 in slightest though youâ€™ll be aware that they’re not the full story, far from it.
No, itâ€™s the Prometheans that are the focus here, so much so that they make the Covenantâ€™s appearance seem odd. They get basically no screen time in the gameâ€™s cutscenes, and seem to exist largely to bolster the gameâ€™s enemy count. The biggest issue with them though is that their motivations go mostly unexplained, and are only questioned briefly in the first level.
There are similar, minor issues with the story throughout the game. Thatâ€™s not to say that the overarching plot or writing are bad, in fact the dialogue is some of the best the Halo series has had. Itâ€™s just that, occasionally, there are things that seem to be accepted by characters without any questioning. Take the introduction of the SPARTAN-IVs in the game – not only does the Master Chief seem unphased by this new generation, he doesnâ€™t even really ask any questions about them.
There are also issues raised about the behaviour of Andrew Del Rio, the Captain of the UNSC Infinity. Itâ€™s easy to explain away some of his stranger decisions, like sending in ground forces with no recon and almost getting them killed, as those of a poor officer but from the first moment he meets Master Chief he treats him with nothing but suspicion and disdain. He doesnâ€™t offer any explanations for this attitude and neither do any of his senior staff.
Yes, he does out rank the Master Chief but itâ€™s worth remembering that the Chief is a decorated war hero whoâ€™s largely credited with saving the human race from extinction by the Covenant. That doesnâ€™t mean you always have to listen to his plans, but it also probably means you donâ€™t dismiss him out of hand.
However, despite these issues itâ€™s safe to say the game has an enjoyable plot with enough little turns along the way to keep you interested. If youâ€™ve been following along with the recent Halo books then some of the events are going to have more meaning for you, particularly around the Prometheans (who, if you didnâ€™t know, are part of the Forerunner society), but thereâ€™s more than enough for more casual fans of the series to sink their teeth into.
Perhaps itâ€™s unfair to put so much focus on the Prometheans though. Thatâ€™s not to say that theyâ€™re not a focus of the game, but far more interesting is the relationship between Cortana and the Master Chief. While this has certainly been looked at in the past, and Halo 3 in particular gave you some insight into their relationship, Halo 4 really explores and digs into their bond.
This is all spurred forwards by the fact that Cortana is slowly slipping into a kind of madness: the AI state called rampancy. Essentially, artificial intelligences in the Halo universe are created with a lifespan of seven years. This isnâ€™t some morbid safety catch thatâ€™s put in by their creators to stop them claiming too much power, itâ€™s simply a flaw in their design.
At the start of Halo 4 Cortana admits that with the four years that the Chiefâ€™s spent in cryosleep since the events of Halo 3, sheâ€™s been active for eight years now, and is clearly starting to find it hard to keep things together. As the game progresses her condition worsens and itâ€™s genuinely distressing to watch.
Itâ€™s almost like watching the decline of someone with alzheimers or dementia. At times she slips back into memories from closer to her creation, seemingly unaware of her current surroundings. At others she lashes out at people that she feels are putting the Master Chief in harm’s way, or at the SPARTAN-IVs for â€śreplacingâ€ť him. Itâ€™s tragic to watch, and plucks at deep-seated fears that a lot of people share.
Thereâ€™s a great visual effect to go along with Cortanaâ€™s rampancy, with elements of your HUD taking on a red tint and losing clarity as she canâ€™t hold it all together anymore. That same HUD has had some minor updates in the game but the other area that 343 seem to have really played with is the visor itself. For the first time I can remember in a game you genuinely feel like youâ€™re looking out from behind a visor; like the TV is your eyes and sitting just behind the TV screen is a real visor.
Itâ€™s the little hints that give this feeling, with things like subtle light blooms adding to it, and itâ€™s not like itâ€™s ever thrown in your face, that would have felt exceptionally weird. Itâ€™s just there the whole time, giving you another gentle nudge towards suspension of disbelief.
Itâ€™s unfortunate that this feeling of quality doesnâ€™t extend to the gameâ€™s graphics as a whole. Theyâ€™re certainly not bad, and at times theyâ€™re outright beautiful, but theyâ€™re just very varied in quality.
Sometimes you get the feeling that the gameâ€™s had real work poured into making the environment interesting and deep, at others the textures feel flat and the level geometry feels a bit simple. There are levels that feel great and unique. The scale of the Forerunner structures you encounter is truly breathtaking at points but there are other levels that feel like they could have come directly from earlier Halo games.
Worthy of real praise, though are some of the gameâ€™s cutscenes. Again, these feel a bit varied in quality at times but when theyâ€™re good theyâ€™re simply fantastic. Gone are previous complaints about Haloâ€™s facial animations, even in the poorer cutscenes 343 have fixed the issue. Itâ€™s very obvious that theyâ€™re mocapping actors at the same time as well, with the acting feeling a lot more nuanced and compelling.
Unfortunately the gameplay hasnâ€™t moved forwards quite as much, in fact thereâ€™s one mission that feels like itâ€™s ripped straight from Halo: Reach. It appears at roughly the same point in both games, and both the design and the gameplay feel remarkably similar. Itâ€™s still as good as it was in Reach but thatâ€™s the point isnâ€™t it? It was already in Reach.
There are other levels that feel fairly new and interesting, though and thereâ€™s a stunning sequence towards the end that feels like an homage to the entire Rogue Squadron series. It’s significantly better than the space combat that was on offer in Reach but a lot of the experimentation from both Reach and ODST seems to have been quietly swept away. Perhaps thatâ€™s a simple attempt by 343 to make a more traditional Halo game with their first outing, to avoid straying too far from the beaten path, but you canâ€™t help but feel a little disappointed.
Thatâ€™s not to say they haven’t added anything. The inclusion of the Mantis (a mech) in the game does help to spice things up and make for some really fun sequences but overall it all just feels a little too familiar.
Thereâ€™s also the addition of sprint on L3, although this doesnâ€™t really increase the pace of the game all that much. Compared to games like Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty it feels very slow, although itâ€™s quite clearly a deliberate design choice. Realistically, if you hated Halo before thereâ€™s not enough here to make you think â€śYes, this is the game for me.â€ť
Of course, because itâ€™s still Halo, thereâ€™s a little quirk that you should be aware of. The game has a difficulty scale that goes Easy, Normal, Heroic, Legendary. Unless you want a game thatâ€™s tiresome with enemy AI that seems near broken then you shouldnâ€™t touch anything below Heroic.
I made this mistake, and was briefly convinced that the Promethean Knights, the toughest class of Promethean in the game, were incredibly stupid and were significantly worse opponents than Covenant Elites. Switching the campaign up to Heroic fixed this in an instant and made the game much more fun because it felt like an actual challenge.
Itâ€™s hard to say that Halo 4 is the best entry in the series to date, largely because itâ€™s the start of a new trilogy. Itâ€™s simply not going to have the drama of wrapping up the Covenant war in Halo 3, or the pace of the self-contained story in Reach. It also doesnâ€™t have the benefit of being as shiny or new as Halo or Halo 2.
However, even putting those concerns aside, the variability of the gameâ€™s graphics and the minor issues with plotting do let it down to some extent. Add to that the fact that thereâ€™s little in the game that feels all that fresh, particularly compared with what was tried in ODST and Reach, and Halo 4 just canâ€™t top the list of Halo games.
We do not license content or design to any other site.
This WordPress theme is the legal property of Oscar Mike Media.
No element of this site can be used without written permission.
All content should be considered opinion.
Article posters are the individual owner of the article content.
We are not affiliated with any third party.
Use of this website is subject to acceptance of our
legal terms of service.
Advertising and PR: email@example.com | News: firstname.lastname@example.org
TheSixthAxis is featured on: Metacritic, Google News | listed on: NewsNow
All original content is Copyright © 2011 TheSixthAxis.com
Powered by Oscar Mike Media | UK Hosting by Krystal. | PS4