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Shedding Light on Halo 4

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  • [As written in my blog "Changing the Way you Play Halo" on the site.]

    We all know deep down in our hearts that Halo 4- while representing the decade old and still kicking sci-fi shooter that started it all on Xbox, is going to be a change of pace when it graces consumer shelves. While the talent of Bungie may be all but gone from the picture, there are some good people working hard at 343 Industries- including former Bungie members and other qualified tenants, who are readily prepared to make Halo 4 one of the best games the series has seen to date. Despite the departure of Bungie from the Halo-verse and their semi-fallout with Microsoft itself, 343 looks to reinvigorate the series after the success of the Reach prequel, and bring to light the continuing adventures of the Chief and his allies- this time, deep within a Forerunner hubworld. While the game looks to cover many of the same bases as previous series iterations, it also looks to spread it's wings and soar higher than ever before up the creative and intuitive design ladder- namely due to the additions 343 is packing like candy into the game itself. From new enemies, a new continuation of the Chief's story, and  new multilayer multiplayer modes to the almighty reckoning that should be the return of another legendary-difficulty campaign, a never before seen in Halo perk system,  and yet another set of challenging and engaging achievements- 343 Studios looks to cover it all, and then some.

    Do not let all of this praise and polish fool you however, as many gamers still hold the game itself in high speculation despite the flowering ratings already being given to it this far into it's pre-release phase. Ever since it's announcement, anticipation has been building at dangerously high levels, and should the longtime or newcoming fans of the series be let down in the end- who knows what could happen. For all of the showering remarks benefiting it to the many speculating gestures associated with the names 343 and Halo, one can only watch and wait with slowly growing anxiousness as the release date creeps upon us. With a competitive lineup such as Assassin's Creed III and other prestigious titles, Halo 4 will need to be absolutely untouchable in order to come out of the starting gate without a single misstep or stumble on it's road to glory and victory. With these small blurbs here just about wrapped up, allow me to get to the real essence of this ditty- the change in how various elements of the game are going to be handled, as well as how things could progress in this new manner- not just within Halo 4, but included in the entirety of what will soon become a nine part series in the future and intervening years...


    Musical talent is not something necessarily innately learned or inherited, but instead something that takes many thousands of hours of practice and slowly tinkering finesse. This having been said, it comes as no surprise that the lucky soul chosen to incorporate surrealistic themes into this newest halo game sure has a lot of ground to cover, as well as a legendary track record to live up to- considering Martin O'Donnell's fantastic work with the previous games. Thankfully, that lucky soul is a British producer and musician by the name of Neil Davidge, and what a good record he has to date. While this will seem brief to those of you reading, simply look no further than the familiar variations and haunting melodies encased within the released trailers of the game for some on-site samples of his credibility and worthwhile works. Davidge will hopefully sign on for any future Halo games, as it is only fair that he finish out the series assuming this game fares as well- or better, than the previous ones, hard as that may be to live up to by today's standards...


    The multiplayer of Halo has always been one of the biggest draws to players all around the world, and continues to be for Halo 4- although it has one slight difference as well. This is easily by far the most skeptical detail revolving around this 343-developed game, as it is going to be hard to make additions to the classic formula without at least a few players crying foul after not having every single little thing they wanted or didn't want assuaged or remedied for the final creation. With the tweaks to classic Halo mayhem in mind, as well as 343's goal of staying true to the series and producing a strictly Halo-themed experience, gamers may wonder how they plan on incorporating so many new features and yet not completely changing the face of the game itself.There is certainly one thing that is going to help this indeed- assuming it plays and feels as truly invigorating and amazing as it has thus far: Spartan Ops.

    While the changes such as perks and abilities systems and the return of the toggled abilities and powerups from Reach will evidently make returns to multiplayer environments, the true test of Halo-ness lies in the new and ambitious cooperative mode known as Spartan Ops. This online coop mode will host new content for over five weeks straight after Halo 4's launch, a plethora of possibilities for missions and story arcs, and a side-by-side story board lining up and yet still remaining separate from the Chief's own single player one within the game. Even better is the fact that this is all coming to our consoles because of the simple fact that the brilliant minds at 343 figured gamers could use some narrative fuel in their killing sprees throughout multiplayer, as opposed to the norm- the norm being mindless violence with no goal-oriented purpose. I suppose you could say that is a lofty goal indeed, especially assuming that the interesting stories aren't direct copies of the singleplayer experience or shallow shades of the same color as other games and Halo-related content. I suppose you could say this is a brilliant move indeed, especially in the ever-changing world of multiplayer and gameplay innovation. Instead of simply only providing the normal 4-player classic campaign gameplay alone as the only real source of cooperation and collaborative efforts within the game, 343 looks to add thought and breadth to a standalone multiplayer-cooperative mode, and it looks grand indeed. You'll definitely being seeing the usual three M's within the Halo universe appearing in this game- those letters being Music, Multiplayer, and Mayhem.


    One of the biggest promises (and premises) of Halo 4- aside from what looks to be sterling multiplayer content, is the promise of entirely new and never-before seen locales and locations, a branching storyline and arc for both the Chief and Cortana, and the addition of everything new from foes to flagships. With all of this 'new' stuff it's almost insane not to wonder how this game could possibly still be Halo, and yet that it is. While capturing the exact essence of Combat Evolved- now over 11 years old, Halo 4 also looks to establish it's own name as 343's first true contribution to the Halo saga, and a hearty contribution that sure should be...

    One of the scarily new factors within the known story of the game is the one concerning Cortana, or rather her serious mental issues coming into play. Could it be that by the end of the game, she might even provide a new and brilliantly crafted foe for Master Chief? Would 343 really consider doing something so ultimately heartbreaking to one of gaming's most memorable and beloved characters? I'd say they would- that's how you make money after all (risk and reaping the rewards). Speculation aside, this single story-related possibility and many other options such as exploration of new Forerunner worlds and new looks at old enemies and new ones akin should bring such an exciting new game to those who loved the old ones- melding them perfectly in preparation for any future titles after this trial by fire for the new custodians of such an amazing franchise. I'd say that story is definitely easily one of the biggest concerns and interests in the upcoming action release...after all, with even some of the weapons arsenal being different from the norm (although old favorites will still appear albeit with a newer makeover), as well as the very inspirations for this new adventure- what's one more thing to add to the list, eh?


    Hopefully this short blog blurb has been a thoughtful, intelligently legible, and overall enjoyable read for those of you who consider yourself fans or haters alike- or are simply grey on the Halo matter. I enjoyed writing this quick little piece, providing my own thoughts for comparison to those of the wonderful people here at Game Informer as well as elsewhere, and giving you a heads up on the tricky and dangerous waters that 343 Industries has to navigate in the coming months. Hail to the Chief.

    [Updated 9/15/12]

  • This is some great speculation. I myself have always been willing to give 343 a second chance. They did an excellent job with Halo Wars, and the direction they're going with the Halo Universe definitely has my attention, since they've got some fresh ideas being implemented via the Prometheans. I've always wanted to know more about the Forerunners, so I have a feeling they'll do great with the series, despite what naysayers have predicted. I'd also say that regardless of whether it's perfect or not as critically successful, it will be an immediate success merely because it's a Halo title, and once you've established a core audience - especially one this grand - you're guaranteed profits. I'm optimistic, although cautiously, of course.


    EDIT: Got the games mixed up. 343 redid Halo: Combat Evolved and they're responsible for Halo Waypoint.

    Thanks Fohammer for pointing out my error.

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  • Halo Wars was developed my Ensemble, not 343.

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