Feeds
85%
Halo 4

Halo 4 game review

The Master Chief is back but the combat has not evolved

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

All dust and echoes

The Prometheans do at least make for interesting, challenging adversaries, especially if you’ve grown accustomed to Covenant tactics. They’re hard to beat, and require some observation before you learn how they behave and what the relationships between the different forms are. But for me they lack the personality of the multi-racial Covenant and the sheer scariness and unremittingly unstoppable nature of the Flood, both of which maintained the first game's sense of immersion in a ‘real’ world. There’s none of the light relief we saw from the likes of 343 Guilty Spark and the Covenant 'Run away!' Grunts.

Halo 4

To the Infinity, and beyond

Combat in Halo 4 remains entirely unevolved: it's as much about marksmanship and preserving ammo as it always has. “Remember: short, controlled bursts” - its Aliens again. Beyond the addition of Reach's armour power-ups, there's no substantial change to how you do battle. You still have only two weapons to choose from at any given moment. An assault rifle in your hands and a Covenant Storm Rifle over your should is a reasonable limit, but surely the Master Chief should have figured out by now how to holster a pistol on his thigh too? Couldn’t Cortana have helped? She certainly found time to recode the hero’s HUD to wrap to the curvature of his one-way visor.

New Promethean weapons extend the list of ordnance options, though like the Covenant kit accrued from ODST and Reach, they’re really just alien equivalents of existing kit. Nicely, though, the seem to do more damage to you than to their owners. There are novel additions to the Halo hardware muster, most notably the Mantis, an Avatar-style suit of mechanised armour - what is it with these guys and James Cameron flicks? - that’s used to yomp and blast through the cavernous interior of the downed Infinity.

Halo 4

I said 'Warthog' not 'Hogwarts'

The UNSC ship and Requiem are appealingly rendered by Halo 4’s new engine, though it’s a world that lacks much of the dynamism of Reach. Apart from some waterfalls, there’s little going on here that’s peripheral to the action: no native lifeforms, no distant lightning or explosions. If Requiem has been seeded with flora, why not fauna? I miss Reach’s heavy rain, and Combat Evolved’s snow and fog. For me, Reach presented a more real, more atmospheric world that Requiem does. Here, 343’s efforts seemingly having gone toward improving the photorealism of the NPCs' faces rather than improving the world they exist in, though their hair is very much of the Lego minifigures' clipped-on-plastic variety.

Still, Halo buffs will enjoy digging into a new chapter in the Master Chief’s story, a process which during the game brings out some of the Spartans’ less-than-reputable past, messes completely with humanity's established timeline and its ancestry - someone has been watching the Battlestar Galactica remake - acquaints us with a pair of major Forerunner NPCs, one Ying to the other’s Yang, and introduces Cortana’s “rampancy” - Alzheimer’s for AIs, essentially.

Halo 4

Ship of fuels

Fans of Bungie’s Marathon series will have an ideas as to what this is about and should already know more of the seedier side of the Spartan story than gamers who have only played Halo will. There’s some attempt here, it feels to me, to tie the two series’ storylines together. About time, thank Strauss. Just remember: all roads lead to Sol...

And when you're done playing the linear campaign there's multiplayer, here building on Reach’s implementation with a revised ‘career’ ladder, revamped multiplayer scenarios and joined by ‘Spartan Ops’, a series of six solo- or co-op scenarios featuring a team of updated Spartans - 4s, geddit?!? - from the Infinity. The notion is, you watch the story then play the scenario. The games are engaging enough, but not meaty enough to stand up alongside the main storyline, or as play-for-the-heck-of-it as the regular multiplayer levels. One for the series’ younger fans.

Halo 4

Cooorrr-tana: 'You're looking at my breasts, aren't you?'

Verdict

Has combat evolved over the past eleven years? Not at all. From a gameplay perspective, Halo 4 is Halo with new baddies and better graphics. There’s no harm in that - Halo 4 is no less exciting to play, it packs in plenty of gaming and it advances the series’ back-story.

Combat Evolved provided a whole new word of eerie interiors and breathtaking landscapes to eye up between battles. FPS gaming wasn't even ten years old then - it was still finding its feet as a genre. Eleven years on, it’s time to evolve the now-established format. 343 Industries should really be pushing this kind of game forward, perhaps with multiple outcomes determined by player action, or at least story presentation that’s about more than providing breathing space between levels. Halo 4, good though it is, isn’t such an game. It’s time to give Halo fans a game to engage their brains as well as their trigger fingers. ®

More Games Reviews

World of Warcraft:
Mists of Pandaria
Resident Evil 6 Dishonored Borderlands 2 Guild Wars 2

High performance access to file storage

85%
Halo 4

Halo 4 game review

The Master Chief returns in the latest in Microsoft's long line of Halo Xbox exclusives to mix the original's gameplay with smarter graphics.
Price: £40 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.