REVIEW: Halo 4 (360)

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
  • Xbox 360 / Rated M / $59.99 / released November 2012
  • FINAL: You NEED this game. 5 out of 5 stars

Back in 2007, Master Chief was last seen finishing the fight against the Covenant forces. But a lot can change in five years, including the arrival of a new caretaker for the Halo franchise. Gone is longtime Halo shepherd Bungie and 343 Studios is in. Of course, no one will care about that if ‘Halo 4’ is a solid experience… and fans can take solace in knowing that ‘Halo 4’ is worth the long wait.

‘Halo 4’ opens with a quick one-two combo, as we watch Master Chief go from frozen popsicle to action hero in about two minutes. The war may have been over for five years, but there is a branch of the Covenant that does not agree with that assessment. Some might groan at seeing the Covenant as the enemy, but right before it gets stale, new combatants show up and the world that we know is slowly turned upside down.

343 Studios never tries to shift things radically, as the controls and general idea behind ‘Halo 4’ stays true to past games. Instead, a lot of the difference is found in the incredible visuals and set pieces. Lifeless supporting characters have been replaced with realistic, emotional actors. Backgrounds and levels also get a makeover. Halo games start to feel far too similar over the six to eight hours of campaign gameplay, but in ‘4’, environments constantly feel fresh and new.

Of course, people may initially come to a Halo game for the single player story mode, but true longevity is made by the multiplayer. Fans will find that things are spot on, true to the series’ legacy. On top of having standard multiplayer modes, 343 Studios has added Spartan Ops mode, which will give players a new piece of co-op content that can be played each week. These episodic content drops will tell a side story and are completely free to those that own the game.

While ‘Halo 4’ hits most marks, there are still some minor issues that scuff a little of the luster on this start of a new trilogy for Master Chief. Occasionally, there were times where I was trapped on a piece of the environment and had to go back to a previous checkpoint. At one point I triggered a weird glitch when an apparent cutscene did not load and I could not progress with the story. All of these were random events, but it does point to the usual need for patches and title updates. I also felt that the main campaign rushed to the finish line, wrapping up inside about six to seven hours, and lacking a satisfying closing act.

Even with its minor faults, ‘Halo 4’ cements the series as a defining epic of this generation. It mixes together fast paced first person action with an operatic story. Throw in the excellent multiplayer and the new Spartan Ops missions and you have a package that is well worth the cost of admission.

Image courtesy Microsoft. This review is based on product supplied by the publisher.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.