The lights are on
Before you read any further, know that I am a newcomer to the Halo series and played Halo Reach this January after receiving it from a friend. After finishing it, I started playing the original trilogy and finished the campaign of this game just a few days before this review. To keep things simple, here is my breakdown:
Oh my gosh, it is insanely gorgeous. The HDR lighting and textures are mind blowing, and the entire game plays and looks just like a CGI film. The Elites/Sangheili are genuinely intimidating and borderline terrifying. The cutscenes are also incredibly detailed, and I thought the prologue was actually live action for the first minute or so. The guns and the scopes are beautiful and it is a complete visual treat.
The sound has been edited incredibly well, and the soundtrack is awesome. The weapons, however, did not sound as powerful in my opinion. The DMR and .45 sound a bit more wispy; something that I found a bit disappointing compared to Halo Reach's pounding audio for those same weapons. Other than that, all the weapons sound incredible. The grunts and elites don't speak English very much, and even if they do, the grunts are barely understandable. I really enjoyed the dialogue from the grunts from Halo CE-3, but since the Covenant appear to be rogue in this game, maybe that was intentional on 343's part.
Plays just like Halo should. For the first time ever, you can finally sprint as Master Chief in addition to other armor abilities you can acquire throughout the game. Not too much to say other than that. There's a few other fun cinematic gameplay additions, but I'm going to leave them out so it can be a surprise.
The story, in my opinion, was incredible. If you are expecting it to feel like the first three, then you will ruin the experience because this is a completely different experience in terms of mood and story. Just be open to what will come and don't make any judgement until the end. The new perspective and approach to the Chief and his story was done very well, and I look forward to the next installments.
The multiplayer is SO FUN. I just wrote in all caps, that's how fun I find it. While the new loadout feature is reminiscent of Call of Duty, it's actually a refreshing addition to the series. You also get to call down ordnance, and with some practice, the drops can actually destroy enemy vehicles when timed and aimed properly.
Machinima and the File Browser:
While I have not used the File Browser much, I was very disappointed that it is not possible to save replays of Campaign and Spartan Ops sessions in the File Browser. Why this feature was removed, I do not know, but I hope 343 issues an update so that becomes possible. I love taking screenshots with in-game cameras, and one of my favorite things in Reach was taking cinematic stills of the campaign. Anywho, it sucks it isn't there for campaign and Spartan Ops.
I am only on Episode 5 of Season 1, but have been quite entertained so far. The dialogue of the Spartans can be quite funny at times, and the story is actually a tad intriguing. While you can play it solo, the mode is definitely designed for a large party of friends to play with you. It's certainly possible, I'm sure, to finish a mission without dying on Legendary, but good luck with that. There are times where you are cornered with literally 50-60 enemies that suddenly appear all at once in a tight space. Aside from the difficulty factor of playing solo, it's really not as fun as playing with others, and if it is possible I definitely encourage you to find others to play with.
To conclude this, I would love to give Halo 4 a 10, but the lack of being able to save replays from campaign sessions is not cool, and the change of the DMR and .45's sound forced me to rate it 9.75.
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