We’ve put time into learning the cast of Hastati Squad in Part 1, and saw the losses and fears that motivated them in Part 2. Part 3 finally brought the Covenant up against Thomas Lasky and the students of Corbulo Academy, but left fans hanging.

Part 4 of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn has arrived at last, and the action is well worth the wait. Those who couldn’t make it through the week with only the promise of a live-action Master Chief had the stunning ‘Scanned’ trailer to tide them over, but there’s just no comparison. 343 Industries and the creative heads of the web series took their time setting the stage for John’s arrival into the fight, and as is expected of a Spartan-II, he doesn’t disappoint.

This episode of Forward Unto Dawn is certainly the one that fans have been waiting for, and not just because it provides the first look at a real set of Mjolnir armor. The action that Master Chief brings was what sold the entire series in the first theatrical trailer, and there’s nothing like some frenzied Covenant combat to get fans prepped for the launch of Halo 4. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Elite Sword

When we last left the cast of Forward Unto Dawn, Lasky had been forced to decide whether he would lead for his own reasons or those that were expected by the UNSC. All that introspection ended with the arrival of the Covenant, and the death of at least one member of Hastati Squad. And the more we see of the Covenant, the easier to hate them they become. It takes a special kind of depravity to kill unarmed children, but as fans of the series know, the Prophets’ extermination of human beings is driven by religious zeal, not the honor embodied in the Corbulo slogan ‘Axios.’

It’s fitting then, that director Stewart Hendler (Sorority Row, H+) should rely on his slasher-flick experience in characterizing the cloaked Elite as pulled from any classic horror – not just science fiction – movie (kudos on the water effects). Players aren’t used to evading the Energy Sword-wielding Sangheili, so the result of seeing unarmed soldiers-in-training forced to see the alien as more than just a target is refreshing. It also makes the renewed strength that the Master Chief brings an even stronger case of wish fulfillment.

Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn Master Chief

And not a moment to soon. It’s not hard to see why so much time was put into developing characters to interact with the Chief, as the armor-clad super-soldier isn’t exactly a conversationalist. Not that his actions don’t speak louder than any rousing speech, but the Master Chief isn’t going to be the character for viewers to identify with throughout this story. Even if his skills on combat and knowledge of both Human and Covenant weapons (which apparently aren’t so rare) are familiar to casual fans, his personality certainly isn’t.

What do you think of Part 4 of the web series? Did Daniel Cudmore (X-Men 3: Last Stand) bring Master Chief to life as you would expect, or did the Spartan fail to handle himself in the manner you’d hoped? The combat and special-effects-laden action is what fans have demanded from any Halo movie that ever gets made, so Forward Unto Dawn might help sell that idea all on its own.

There is still some time left in Part 5 for the Chief to shine, and for even more heartbreak.

Halo Forward Unto Dawn Chief Fighting

So far it seems the story is going to include action with a ‘quality over quantity’ mindset, and while casual observers may just demand more explosions and bigger fights, fans are most interested to see how Thomas Lasky becomes not just a cadet, but the future commander of the UNSC Infinity.

Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be released via Halo Waypoint and Machinima every Friday, leading up to the launch of Halo 4 on November 6, 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.