The passing of the torch from Bungie to 343 Industries was something which changed the nature of the Halo games as well as called in serious questions as to what would be the future of the franchise. Halo: Reach was an excellent game but the central storyline is and always would be built around the character of Master Chief. Could they really bring back the character and tell a new story which would launch the franchise into a new trilogy?
Eh, kind of?
|Some beautiful visuals in this game but that's just standard.|
From there, the campaign switches to Master Chief awakening in the middle of nowhere with a Covenant armada nearby. Despite the treaty with the Covenant, these forces are extremely hostile and Master Chief swiftly disposes of them only to find himself on a Forerunner "shield" world which is home to an ancient evil he helps unwittingly unleash. Things go from bad to worse with the revelation Cortana has reached the end of her seven-year-lifespan and is suffering a horrific degenerative brain-death via rampancy.
|Cortana and Master Chief's relationship is the emotional heart of Halo 4.|
Even then, I can't give the game full points because so much of what makes the Cortana and Chief relationship so important is the previous three games worth of interaction they've had. It's also a rather cheap emotional gut punch to use despite its effectiveness. The game holds out hope for her survival but dangles it like a carrot before a starving rabbit. I will say the actors for both Master Chief and Cortana knock it out of the park with their interactions.
|The Didact is basically just Darkseid but that's as good a villain concept as any.|
Their leader in the Didact is also a character who is a trifle two-dimensional but one which serves his purpose. He's effectively Darkseid in that he's a Galactic Conqueror with pretensions of godhood, an army of cyborgs, and a quest for an artifact which will allow him to remove all of the free will from the universe. Oh, and he's got a boatload of family issues with the good members of his family too. A two-bit Darkseid knock-off is better than what we could have gotten and I expect to see him again in future installments (then again, I expect to see Gravemind too).
|The misty jungles are a neat touch when fighting robot armies.|
Lore-wise, the game incorporates many elements from the Forerunners novels including the appearance of the Forerunners, the conflict between their leaders, and what they were like as a culture. We also get insight into the idea they were once enemies with a prehistorical space-faring humanity. The anthropologists among Halo fans will be made to cry because of this backstory but I didn't have too much trouble with it. Sadly, I think they would have been better off making the Forerunners humans themselves if they were going to punch evolution in the face.
|The Infinity's crew just don't endear themselves quite the way the game expects them to.|
The shield world of Requiem isn't a terribly memorable location, being another mixture of ruins and jungle but I enjoyed fighting in the interior of a UNSC starship. Furthermore, the game has a couple of segments where you fight inside a Gundam-esque mecha which I really enjoyed and are probably the most entertaining new innovation to the game. A starfighter sequence is an homage to Star Wars and while I don't really think being an ace pilot is in Master Chief's bailiwick, was still pretty damn fun.
|The X-wing-esque trench-run of the game was a welcome surprise.|
Surprisingly, I can actually comment on the multiplayer element here with Spartan Ops. being a story-based section you can do solo. Sadly, doing it solo is a long and arduous slog through hundreds of enemies with no level scaling. The least the game could have done was provide some A.I. partners for it. Spartan Ops story-mode didn't work on my Xbox One edition of The Master Chief Collection either. The story is fairly straightforward but has a number of interesting twists which I recommend players to check out on Youtube if nothing else.
|Poor Cortana really gets put through the ringer here.|