‘Halo 4′ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 1st, 2012 at 1:06 pm,

Game Rant Halo 4 Review

At long last, the much-anticipated release of Halo 4 is upon us, and gamers are understandably amped, though some remain cautiously optimistic, about the prospect of Master Chief’s return. Anyone who has been concerned by 343 Industries‘ handling of the next Halo title did so in vain, however, because the developer has managed to deliver one of the biggest, action-packed offerings ever created on a console. That’s not to say the fourth numeric installment is flawless, but the sheer amount of content will keep gamers entertained for countless months to come.

One of the biggest selling points of Halo 4, aside from the game’s multiplayer offerings, is the return of Master Chief. The legendary Spartan soldier was left floating through space the last time fans saw him in 2007’s Halo 3, and this game picks up after Cortana awakens Chief from his cryo-nap. As the campaign progresses, gamers will have to battle familiar enemies such as the Covenant, as well as brand new foes in the form of Prometheans, but it’s the story itself that many are eager to watch unfold.

The main campaign is without a doubt one of the most engaging in a Halo title to-date, and fans will instantly become attached to new characters that are introduced throughout the story. While that’s all fine and dandy, what will really draw in gamers are the performances given by Jen Taylor and Steve Downes (the voice actors for Cortana and Master Chief, respectively). The raw emotion and authentic interaction that occurs between the two throughout the whole story will keep players captivated until Halo 4 reaches its climactic end.

The graphics in Halo 4 are the best of any Halo game yet.

Master Chief’s latest adventure wouldn’t be satisfying without some solid gameplay to back it up though, and Halo 4 delivers just that to gamers. For the most part, the gameplay and combat stays true to its roots; providing long-time fans with an authentic, yet fresh, iteration of one of their favorite series. The only downside is that some of the chapters can become monotonous over time. Certain objectives will force players to run back and forth (usually to destroy generators) in order to advance forward in a level, and these moments have a tendency of popping up far too often than is necessary.

While a few of the missions can grow old pretty fast, there are still plenty of new gameplay additions that mix up the formula without upsetting the balance of the critically acclaimed series. Some portions of the campaign will require timed button presses in order to help Master Chief avoid certain death, and this helps players feel like they’re intimately entwined with the character’s struggle.

As with any new Halo game, there are also new weapons to choose from, and a new list of armor abilities just waiting to be discovered for the first time by the Chief. The option to sprint by clicking down left joystick is another new feature that anyone familiar with other FPS titles will enjoy, but aficionados needn’t worry because Halo 4 still maintains the arcade-esque approach that longtime fans of the franchise have come to love.

Overall, Master Chief’s return has been incredibly well executed by 343 Industries, and thanks to hidden terminals that have been scattered about the campaign, various difficulty levels, co-op, and achievements, there’s no question that fans will be replaying the main story. Anyone offended by the ending of Halo 2 doesn’t have anything to worry about either, because Halo 4 wraps up the story being told — while still leaving room for fans to contemplate the possibilities for Halo 5.

Once the thrill of the main story mode wears off, the next destination that players will visit is a category on the menu called ‘Infinity’. Within this option are three different modes that gamers will become well acquainted with pretty quickly. ‘War Games’, ‘Spartan Ops’, and ‘Forge’ offer a variety of different gameplay options, and the familiar modes are packed with new content that enhances the overall gameplay significantly when compared to its predecessors.

The new and improved multiplayer mode features a few noteworthy upgrades, and the most prominent is the ability to completely customize Spartans for online combat. Players aren’t stuck with the ability to just select their character’s armor anymore, and can now create entirely different load outs that are completely customized by the individual. Want to start a match with an assault rifle instead of a battle rifle? Do it. Would you prefer that your character have the Jetpack armor ability over a cloaking option? Done. Classes are created and based around the needs and desires of the player, and it’s up to them to decide how best to build their load outs.

As a player climbs in rank, they’ll be rewarded points that they can then spend on new weapons, armor types, armor abilities, and more. Some gear can only be purchased after players have reached a certain level too, so gamers have plenty of incentive to keep playing in order to make the perfect class for their play style. There’s almost no limit to which soldier types can be created, and Halo fans will immediately fall in love with the previously unfathomable amount of customization options.

All is fair in love and War Games.

Ordnance drops also make their triumphant debut in Halo 4, but series purists don’t need to worry about the potential upset these care packages bring with them. Anyone who racks up enough kills will be able to call in support in the form of three random pieces of gear. These drops can’t be stacked either, so opponents won’t be able to save up four or five ordnance drops to call in at their leisure. The application of this killstreak reward has been expertly executed by 343, and longtime followers of the franchise will quickly find that the addition doesn’t upset the balance of the game whatsoever.

‘War Games’ revolutionizes multiplayer in a way that many fans have never seen before; Spartan Ops, on the other hand, is an entirely new beast, and one that should not be overlooked by veterans or newcomers. Essentially acting as a second campaign, Spartan Ops throws players into the role of a generic Spartan soldier that has been tasked with completing a number of different missions. The entirety of the additional story mode contains plenty of content and cinematic cut-scenes, and it supports four-player co-op over Xbox Live.

What’s probably the most interesting aspect about Spartan Ops is that 343 plans on offering it episodically over the course of the next few months, and the best part is that the first season, consisting of 10 episodes featuring 50 missions, will be available completely free of charge for Xbox Live Gold members. This mode also provides some additional details to the ongoing story in the main campaign, so it’s beneficial to both those who play by themselves or with friends.

Halo 4 Screenshots

The third and final mode in Halo 4 is Forge, and many gamers should be familiar with its features by now. Gamers can build their very own levels within Forge, and once completed they can be uploaded and shared with millions of other level editing connoisseurs. While players will find a lot a familiarity to the level editor, there’s also a ton of new content that makes it easier than ever before to create exceptional multiplayer levels. The ability to duplicate items, enhanced object positioning, and upgraded visuals are but a few of the mode’s latest inclusions.

Overall, Halo 4 is the game that fans were hoping it would be. It’s the best looking installment in the illustrious franchise yet, but the thing that makes this title so appealing is the seemingly endless amount of content that it comes packed with. There’s no denying the immense replay value that Master Chief’s latest outing has, and as a result many 360 owners will be playing it well into 2013. 343 Industries has done incredibly well with their take on the beloved Halo series, and, aside from a few issues, it’s unquestionably one of the best games on the Xbox 360. The Master Chief is back, and his latest adventure is more fleshed out and thoroughly enjoyable than ever before.

Halo 4 will launch on November 6th, exclusively for the Xbox 360.

You can follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5

TAGS: 343 Industries, Halo, Halo 4, Microsoft, Xbox 360

  • Poncho

    MAN OH MAN OH MAN OH MAN. I cannot wait. This could dethrone Halo 2. Forge is going to be forgetastic. I should probably get started on my essay so I can play this…

  • Frizzle

    Quick Time events “enhance” the game? Microsoft’s most expensive game ever, and there are… Quick Time events… to… enhance… it…

    • http://unbuildthegame.blogspot.com UnbuildTheGame

      I don’t remember reading anywhere in the review anything about quicktime events. Even if there were, it’s not a game that’d be full of them, and several top rated games have quicktime events. Quicktime events can be good if done correctly. For instance, Gears of War pulls off quicktime events subtly, but the game wouldn’t be the same without them.

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      The Quick Time events that happen take place from a first-person perspective, so they don’t pull players out of the action whatsoever. There are only a handful of them that pop up during the main campaign, but they make for a nice engaging substitute when compared to cut-scenes.

      They are saved specifically for climactic moments though, so don’t worry about them popping up in every chapter. 😉

  • boogoo

    Would you say these are the best graphics the X-Box 360 has ever had? Everyone keeps saying they’re amazing.

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      Halo 4 is a GREAT looking game. Whether or not it’s the best looking Xbox 360 title is up for debate, but no one will be disappointed by the game’s aesthetic.

      The quality of the cut-scenes will blow your mind though — especially the opening cinematic.

  • Jack7

    Is there an online pass? My rookie is getting the game and I really want to play split screen mode

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      Nope. No online pass required. There is, however, a second disc that requires 8GB of hard-drive space in order to play multiplayer.

  • Jak Frost

    how are they playing halo its not even out yet

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      I got a review copy from Microsoft, dude. 😉

      • Jak Frost


      • yodarlz

        You. Lucky. SOB. Please, tell me straight: In your trusted opinion (I usually agree with your reviews) is this the best Halo game yet?

        • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

          I will go on record as saying that, in my humble opinion, Halo 4 is the best Halo game yet. There’s just so much content, and gamers will be playing it for months to come.

          • SweetSchism

            i’m a bit worried about “months to come.” Halo 3 was a game that was enjoyed for over 4 years of strong gameplay. Do you think that Halo 4 will provide the same amount of fun, or is it like Reach and something that will die out after six months?

          • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

            If you got 4 years of play out of Halo 3, then you’ll find plenty to keep yourself amused in Halo 4. Of course, how much enjoyment someone pulls from a product is subject to their own preferences, but there’s a lot to love about 343 Industries’ take on the franchise.

    • http://gamerant.com Rob Keyes

      Review units went out 1-3 weeks in advance of release since they wanted reviews up before launch. That’s rare and it shows they put faith in the title and 343.

  • Shalkowski

    The thing I am most worried about, does it play and feel like Halo?

    • Riley Little

      No worries there. This is still the same Halo you’ve always known and loved, it’s just been given some worthwhile upgrades. 343 has done a stellar job of taking the mantle from Bungie.

      • rumple foreskin


  • A73L3VEN

    “aside from a few issues, it’s unquestionably one of the best games on the Xbox 360.”

    If you have something you feel could have been done differently please let us know what that is. A game review needs to speak from both sides of the sword. Let us know what these “few issues” were for you.

    • Jack7

      He did. he talked about how sometimes the missions are a little monotonous in the campaign

      • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

        At least someone read the review! 😛

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      As I mentioned in the fourth paragraph of the review, the missions in the campaign can become tedious. It’s not enough to ruin the whole story, but it does feel monotonous. These repetitive objectives were the “issues” in question.

      “The only downside is that some of the chapters can become monotonous over time. Certain objectives will force players to run back and forth (usually to destroy generators) in order to advance forward in a level, and these moments have a tendency of popping up far too often than is necessary.”

  • yacine

    for persons asking if it is the best looking game on Xbox 360…i can
    say ..Yes!…it is the best looking game on xbox 360.as for me all xbox 360
    games look like crap exept few titles like Forza ,batman,gears of war.
    but this looks better it tries to mimic some direct X 11 effects, only found
    on PC games…and the trick works pretty damn well.

    • http://unbuildthegame.blogspot.com UnbuildTheGame

      You should look at RAGE or Dark Souls in 1080p on 360. Amazing looking games.

      • boogoo

        And the Mass Effect series. 😉

  • Notsureifsupposedtouserealnameorusername

    One question: I’ve heard that if you don’t have 8 GigaBytes of Hard-Drive space, then you can use a flash drive instead. Is that true?

  • http://www.facebook.com/DownloadableConflict TaboriHK

    I’ve heard that the story is hard to follow if you haven’t read the books. Is this true?

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      Reading the novels will clarify the story a bit, but it’s definitely not hard to follow. There’s one cut-scene in particular that gamers will really have to pay attention to in order to understand what’s happening, but for the most part players will know what’s going on. The books, and even the new Forward Unto Dawn web series, all tie-in to the actual game though, and there’s nods to several faucets of Halo lore sprinkled throughout the story.

      There are a few questions that fans will have that remained unanswered, but they should be addressed in Halo 5 or 6.

      • http://www.facebook.com/DownloadableConflict TaboriHK

        I don’t mind a Forward Unto Dawn tie-in but reading the synopsis of books like Cryptum made my brain burst into flames.

  • Brian D

    great review Riley. Cannot wait to play this.

  • jwalka

    it would have been nice if you went into more detail about the flaws, simply saying the minor flaws dont stop it from being a good game is to vague, especially since different people have different perceptions of the word ‘flaw’.

    i knew from the get go that the mp would be fine with the new CoD style additions, the halo games have never been broken (or glitchy) and the only thing that has needed to be done to smooth things out is the balancing of certain items.

    will probably check this one out via rental b/c i’m gonna be occupied with hitman and far cry3 this yr. nice (if a little vague) review riley :)

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      Dude, if I had more time, I could have gone on for another 500-800 words. A majority of people won’t read something that long though (it’s already over 1,300). 😛

      The only major problems I had were the repetitive missions, so that’s what I was referring to. Overall, it’s a great game though, and I recommend 360 owners play it — especially if they’ve played past games in the series.

      • jwalka

        yeah, i can understand what you mean, i personally like reading so that’s probably just me being nitpicky (me being nitpicky no way :P). i enjoyed halo 3 and reach for what they where – fun sci-fi shooters and i’ve always liked the designs for the guns, vehicles etc so i might check it out in due time :)

  • Luis

    Hey Riley, I loved the review, and I’ve been keeping up with halo 4, but I got a question, How do you get a preview copy from Microsoft?

    • http://www.the23rdstage.com Austin Kazda

      Usually publishers will give out copies of the game early for big review websites, such as this one, IGN, or Game Spot. As far as I am concerned it it to drive up the hype in the last few days before launch, and to get the word out on how the game plays, for those people who are/were on the fence about playing the game to begin with.

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      Preview copies are obtained through PR companies which are employed by various publishers (some, on the other hand, handle all of that stuff internally). You have to be part of the media, traditionally, to obtain a legitimate advanced copy. With a game like Halo 4, there’s also an incredibly large embargo, and I had to sign a document saying I wouldn’t talk certain specifics or give any impressions of the game until November 1st — that’s why all of the reviews for the game went up at the same time. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/DownloadableConflict TaboriHK

    I just started playing it last night and it cannot be overstated how pretty this game is. I have no idea how my Xbox is doing it. Seriously.

    • AlexMech

      Agree, just started myself last night. Story is moving a bit fast though. Music works, its actually refreshing to have a change of composer, to take nothing away from O’Donnell.

  • Fisch

    My wife and I were very excited about Halo 4. We preordered it with the special edition so we could get the map packs that would come out. We played for several hours online, from Team Slayer, to Slayer Pro, to Big Team Slayer. All of which really erked us. Emptying a mag into someone and not killing them, but then they would turn around and kill you in .5 sec is sad. My wife and I are going to return it once I finish solo play. We were so mad at the gameplay that my wife actually starting looking up ways to contact 343 Studios to tell them how she felt. This was a sad day for Halo fans. It was a complete disappointment. I hope BO2 is better.

    • http://gamerant.com Riley Little

      That sounds like you were having connection issues.

    • moose

      Lol you’re mad because you clearly suck. You should turn it in, you obviously can’t take the time to learn a skill based shooter. Skill based in that, no, you dont point at someone and click and they are dead (like in COD). You have to work for it and this doesn’t even slow down the gameplay. Everyone else does this while having fun and a fast pace because they know how to play.

      • Caleb

        Whoa chill bro, as much as I disagree to this review people are titled to their own opinions.

    • Michael Miller

      I agree, Halo 4 is extremely dissappointing! I am long time Halo fan and possess every Halo even going back to the original series for the xbox. I have played the game for about a month and agree with the review. I emptied a magazine into another players head. I watched as each shot connected making the players head pop back with shot and still the character did not die. It does not matter what skill level you are at, that is a fundamental game flaw that makes the game unenjoyable. It is not the only flaw I encountered. On a positve note, the graphics are spectacular and I love the new Cortana. Being able to customize my Spartan and weapns loadouts is a nice feature.

  • AlexMech

    Well for my part WOW, this game is CLEAN! I played the first level last night after finishing Halo 3 in a marathon to be properly aligned for the next installment of the series, and also to be able to gauge how well 343 followed Bungie’s lead and story. WHAT A START! Its so good looking, the weapon balance (on Heroic) is a wonderful transision from Halo 3, but using most of the Reach scheme (button layout). The gameplay is very well paced, but the story (for my part) is getting on to fast. And call me a wuss, but I did NOT want to open fire so soon! Just let me take in the game! I finished the first level enemies and just looked around for a bit, Dawn looked so pretty even busted up like she was. And the planet! I actually drove over a cliff gakwing…sad but true. I had wished that 343 would do this game in 3D but now I am glad it is not. Its perfect the way it is. Now I just need the time to continue playing! I hate starting a good game over the holidays!

  • AlexMech

    All right, I finished it. Now I have only ONE gripe, and I will be done. Was it just me or does the game just NEED NEED NEED Martin O’Donnell’s expertise to really feel and finish like a Halo game should? I wandered all around and had some wonderful combat sequences but through it all the one thing I missed was the level of immersion that comes from Martins scoring. Its like watching Star Wars to a Hans Zimmerman acore….just not right. I like Niel Davidge’s attempt, but this felt more like…I hate saying this…Final Fantasy! Not the sound, but the level that he wanted you to connect on. It wasn’t viceral enough, to ephemeral and light for some of the most important things that have happened to the MC and Cortana since Halo 3. Its the ONLY grouch I had with the game, yes some of the levels did grind a bit but I really did not mind, I just missed the feeling that I normally get from a Halo game, the one that makes me stop halfway through and crank up the difficulty to Legendary so that I don’t finish to soon. It was a great game, but it did lack. 4.5 out of 5 is a fair score. And I only will ever play on Heroic, thats all it needed to me.