Halo 4 – Review

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Combat good, but distinctly unevolved

Do you ever get that feeling of déjà vu when you know that you’ve been there before? Well, Halo veterans should be prepared for something similar when playing Halo 4, a game which takes the mantra of ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ to new heights.

In fact, short of stamping their own signature on their freshly held series, 343 Industries seems to have gone out of its way to pay homage to Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved; the scoped pistol makes a return, your Covenant foes – re-skinned for Reach – are back to their original appearances (albeit realised beautifully) and those same iconic environments return too (even if the returning Master Chief has swapped the Halo ring for a Forerunner world).

In what I can only really put down as a ‘tease’ there are early signs that 343 might have a whole new, infinitely more visceral, Halo in store for us. Early on the Chief is tasked to climb a shaft as debris falls on him from above, so forcing him to leap Nathan Drake-like to parallel handholds; next he’s ripping a door apart with brute strength alone (well, brute strength and much tapping of the ‘x’ button). Sadly however, such moments are sporadic at best throughout the rest of his adventure, 343 either unwilling or told not to stray too far from the series’ established party line.

Still, it’s not all bad news as said party line is of a very high standard indeed and Halo 4 has been crafted with exceptional aplomb. Those same qualities that made previous Halos great fun – huge expansive environments, sandbox encounters, aggressive AI (literally in this case) and vehicle combat – all returning, and wrapped-up in graphical finery which surely pushes the Xbox 360 as far as it’s ever going to be pushed.

What is different works well enough too, the most obvious and impactful change being the addition of the Prometheans, a network of belligerent energy beings who are the very definition of artificial intelligence as they flank you, bog you down with sheer numbers and work together smartly to cover each other.

And don’t think the Covenant are going to be far away either – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, remember? – but by deploying the Prometheans on to the field of battle alongside the Covenant, 343 have been able to challenge players in a brand new way by mixing up the way player’s must approach given situations.

The newbies do cheat a bit however, the Promethean Knights for example won’t think anything of teleporting from one side of the battlefield to right behind you, while their one shot, one kill Scatter Shot energy shotgun can get a tad annoying (particularly on Heroic difficulty and above). The nimbleness of the Watchers – flying droids adept at buffing their allies – is a further annoyance, particularly given the amount of ammo you’ll expend trying to pick them off at distance (lest they reanimate their fallen brethren).

I would also have sooner seen Covenant and Promethean engage each other in combat more; indeed, even during short sequences when they do they tend to exchange blows without ever looking for that killing shot. How much better had the Chief looked to bury the hatchet and temporarily teamed up with the Covenant in a bid to even up the superior firepower of the Prometheans? Surely there’s scope there for huge engagements between forces – or does the Chief’s ego have it that he must always be the central figure?

Still, on the whole combat remains immensely satisfying and the fact that 343 have resisted the cover mechanics so synonymous with the modern day FPS can only be a good thing – indeed after Warfighter the less time spent popping up from cover to shoot enemies who have themselves popped up from cover the better.

Instead Halo 4’s bad guys bring their own cover, the aforementioned Watcher beaming shields in front of its allies for example, while most enemies (certainly of the larger variety) come with their own self-recovering personal shields to rival that of the Chief himself.

Away from the Master Chief’s exploits I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of the game’s online options, but what I’ve seen leaves me confident that I’ll still be returning often in the months to come. Spartan Ops sees players partake in a multiplayer campaign, which runs alongside events of the single-player experience, and promises to expand exponentially with 343 looking to add regular missions for players to partake in; while War Games pits Spartans against each other in simulated holodeck-like military training scenarios (read: traditional deathmatch).

Ultimately Halo 4 plays exactly how you’d expect which is either a blessing or curse depending on your point of view. 343 haven’t looked to rock the boat and in doing so have only ever made it possible to create an experience we’ve played through before. That said the genius of the old design means even now that same gameplay has merit, here’s hoping however that Microsoft and 343 don’t try a repeat trick upon the release of Halo 4 as surely a new console generation calls for a new experience.

Score: 4/5

Format: Xbox 360
Price: £49.99
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft

News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own