November 6, 2012

Passing the Torch

Lasting First Impressions of Halo 4

Developed by 343 Industries  |  Published by Microsoft

2D Boxshot Wizard v1.1» The Halo series has undeniably defined an era of video gaming. The first Halo appeared for the original Xbox back in 2001 and quickly garnered an huge following such that every subsequent release was met with extreme excitement and speculation.  When the original developers of Halo, Bungie, left the franchise after Halo 3, many thought perhaps this was it for Halo. No one would be able to continue with this masterpiece as well as Bungie had done.  It was their baby, afterall.

A couple interim Halo adventures were released in the time since Halo 3 but none featured the hero of Halo, Master Chief. The adventures of Master Chief are far from over after the events of Halo 3 and new caretakers of the franchise, 343 Industries, has entered the scene running.  Not only did they take over the franchise to create the first in what is sure to be a new trilogy of games, they even created an amazing live action Halo 4 movie called Forward Unto Dawn.  Finally, after five years since Halo 3, 343 Industries unveils the next chapter in the Halo franchise with Halo 4.  Does it live up to the expectations of fans everywhere? Has the new studio done the series justice?  I sat down with Halo 4 for my usual 1 hour experience to see how it held up.

Halo 4 Screen 2

For those of you who watched the entire Forward Unto Dawn web series, you will appreciate the direct link between the live action movie and the beginning of the game.  Halo 4 starts off with a bang and never really lets up for a moment.  It is an action packed thrill ride every second.  343 Industries has, understandably, dispensed with any sort of tutorial areas and has thrown the player directly into the story and gameplay.  If you don’t already know how to play Halo, you’ll figure it out soon enough.

Visually, Halo 4 is absolutely stunning. It seems that 343 Industries have held nothing back in milking this 7 year old console out of everything it has to give.  The detail in the set pieces is incredible and is a huge leap forward for the series.  In between hectic battles with the Covenant (yes, they make a return), I found myself wanting to stop and look at the scenery around me as it is so highly detailed I nearly felt I was in the live action movie myself.  It is, by far, the best looking Halo title to date and every fan will be thrilled with the start of this new series and with the return of everyone’s hero, Master Chief.

Halo 4 Screen 3

You should know that I am a terrible First Person Shooter player and I’ve never completed any of the previous Halo offerings. I know, sacrilege. Regardless, I was still excited to see how the new Halo game was going to fare. I chose to play on Normal difficulty which is suggested for players with some shooter experience. Well that’s me. I have experience, but that doesn’t mean I’m good. Regardless, the game still kicked my butt. Several times. At the end of it all, did I want to keep playing? Absolutely. Isn’t that truly the sign of a good game, afterall? Outside all the beautiful graphics, detailed environment, and great controls, if a game doesn’t suck you in and make you want to play, then it hasn’t done its job.  Halo 4 does it job and does it very well.  It makes me want to come back for further beatings over and over again.

Halo has come a long way since its debut in 2001 and it is clear that the franchise is in good hands with 343 Industries.  One might even argue better hands now.

343 Industries, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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