Average User Score: 7.0Feb 10, 2013This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Halo 4 is a commendable effort by 343 in terms of ideas, and it has set an, albeit shaky, foundation for what is to come. However, ideas alone and saying "it's true to Halo" isn't enough anymore. Nothing stands out in a memorable way.
The perks of Halo 4 are miniscule in contrast to it's detriments. Visually, the game looks impressive. It could be said to be the greatest looking game on the 360 to date, thanks to the lighting and art design. The sound design is also not that bad, although it lacks the punch that Reach had. The game tries to have a more compelling story, which is a commendable approach. The multiplayer is quite robust, featuring a number of playlists, and unlike Reach, it is four player split-screen online for most modes. Bringing friends is recommended. Locally, you can do some fun things, but it is not nearly as flexible as previous installments. Load-outs are actually welcome, and while the perk system is uninteresting, it does not interfere with balance all that much, surprisingly. The weapon balance is still problematic, as longer range weapons are too versatile, such as the DMR. Spartan-Op is an atrocious mode that lacks any re-playability. Honestly just play Reach if you want a co-op mode. It's only grace are the CGI scenes, which are not something you play.
On the whole, Halo 4 is underwhelming, and shows the blatant incompetence of 343. In all honesty, the only things that work out for Halo 4 is that it has set a foundation. A foundation that, if put to it's fullest potential, could be something masterful. In it's current state, it is prone to collapse. From what has been given here, sadly, it is a mind-numbing, half-baked effort. The core of the problem is not that the game is broken, but that nothing is executed well. The set pieces are very forgettable, tacked on, and lack any atmosphere, coupled with a forgettable sound track. They are ridiculously linear and narrow, and that is a shame considering the graphical potential of the game. Unlike in Halo: CE Halo: Reach, you do not see those vast set-pieces, those fights in the sky, or anything like that. The only real interesting set-piece is shown at the beginning of the game. The missions lack any good variety. There are no stealth missions, rescue missions, or missions that soak in atmosphere. In fact, if 343 wanted to make an immersive campaign, the environments need to reflect the situation/story, not just levels. To add to this, the campaign is relatively short, which does not add to replay value in any way. 343 believes that the story should not get in the way of the shooting. Ironically, this philosophy works against them, as there is no reason to trek from point A to point B, to shoot C. To add insult to injury, the enemies are not fun to fight. There is less enemy variety, featuring only four Covenant enemies, and the Prometheans essentially replace the Flood. They are also a joke. They are not intimidating or challenging, and knights feel like giant elites that can teleport. The watchers are interesting, though. Halo, also, has never been good on tragic storytelling, and it's safe to say that this game has a story which will leave you chuckling or rolling your eyes. The story isn't just bad, it's putrid awful. I commend 343 for trying to be emotional, but there is nothing here. No inner conflict between the other characters, no tragedy, no irony, no elements which make a sad story compelling. Coupled with a short campaign, none of these elements, if they were to be included, are developed. Driving Cortana insane should have been a twist, not the focus, and it is not a bad idea. However the execution is forced and some of the dialogue is cringeworthily bad. For a "sad" story to be compelling, the audience needs to feel conflicted. The choices of the hero must be the "right thing", only to backfire and harm everyone. That is called consequence. There is none of that, minus an alien ship crashing here or there. Cortana just and screams, and fuzzes up. Also, it feels very super-hero esque, which is an unnecessary and comedic touch. The cutscenes, of course, look marvelous, but that's it. No substance, just style. 343 played it way too safe. The campaign is genuinely bad. Bland story, bland gameplay, bland ideas.
The multiplayer is the only grace, but that is not saying much. It is much like every other modern shooter in that it has a progression system. There is not much to say. It is fun, and the scoring system is welcomed, but the map design is repetitive, as they all have structures in the middle and open fields elsewhere. Aside from the Specializations, which are neat, there is nothing interesting here. Ordnance is not necessary due to random ordnance spawn. Poor weapon balance. There are too many power weapons at any given time. Halo 4 only caters to hardcore fans at this point. Dang character limit. … Expand