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Now Playing: Halo 4

calenda man 11-5 halo 4 shot 1

In the interests of picking up the pace a little, I thought that when I didn’t have a proper feature to give you, I might start posting brief thoughts on games I’d been playing that week instead. Not a proper review, you understand, just a quick sketch. First up to the plate is the fourth iteration in the Halo series, appropriately known as Halo 4.

There’s an old adage that runs “if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it”, which I presume is emblazoned in thirty-foot high fiery letters on the wall of the Halo development office. Because my initial impression of Halo 4 is how very much like the original Halo it is.

You’re still limited to two weapons and some grenades, from a roster that’s barely changed, dropped by enemies that have barely changed, and occasionally you’ll come across some vehicle sections that have barely changed. As the saying goes, it ‘aint broke, so it’s still fun to charge around on Warthogs gunning down the Covenant and new Promethean enemies, but after three previous entries it’s a lot less fun that it used to be.

Of course as a late-cycle Xbox 360 game it looks amazing compared to its predecessors, and many of the scenes were clearly designed to wow the player. And there are a few new additions – a welcome raft of abilities for your armour and a less welcome portrayal of Cortana as some sort of super-curvy cyber-babe. I’ll be playing it a while yet. But if Microsoft are still seeing Halo exclusives  as a prime selling point for the Xbone, they really ought to do something about shaking up the rapidly ossifying gameplay.

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Matt Thrower

Matt is a board gamer who plays video games when he can't find anyone similarly obsessive to play against, which is frequently. The inability to get out and play after the birth of his first child lead him to start writing about games as a substitute for playing them. He founded and writes there and at

4 thoughts to “Now Playing: Halo 4”

  1. See this is fascinating. I see a lot from non-Halo fans that it feels the same, but as a Halo fan, they *ruined* the game. They changed so much chasing Call of Duty that while it looks the same, it does not play the same at all.

    Let’s walk through shall we?
    – Halo single player was rooted in something called a “wide corridor” that gave you lots of freedom to choose how to engage enemies. That’s largely gone (I can provide source from the game’s director that this was a deliberate choice). And story. Well, I hope you read the goddamn books, otherwise you’ll only understand it if you find the *hidden* terminals and then download them from Waypoint and watch them outside of the game. I’m not going to even talk about the limited AI & poor design of the new enemies. Or the “copy/paste” of the new weapons.
    – Halo multiplayer was an Arena shooter with even starts and abilities and an emphasis on map control because of weapon pick-ups. Halo 4 has perks that dramatically alter gameplay in unpredictable ways (does this guy have a perk that will give him his shields back in 2 seconds as opposed to 4?) It also had a 3 second respawn time that matched the shield recharge time. Now it is possible to have someone you just killed respawn and kill you before your shield recharges. Superweapons were governed by timers and map control. Now it’s a fiesta of superweapons that get called down via kill streaks. Halo 4 Multiplayer feels like a chaotic mess.
    – Firefight. Gone.
    – Spartan Ops is there now! Don’t worry! A replacement that blends story and co-op gameplay in an unprecedented way, if you mean in a way with the worst writing I’ve ever experienced in a game (Sarah Palmer, the main character, is terrible. Check google autocomplete to see what I mean.) The gameplay is unfailable (infinite respawns) and destroys any pacing or customization that Firefight had.
    – Theatre? Now it only works for multiplayer, not campaign.
    – Forge? Severely crippled.
    – File share? Didn’t work for months.

    Christ. I’m still upset about this game. I’m a huge Halo fan. Beat them all on Legendary (solo). Halo 1 is probably my favorite game of all time. Halo 4 may be a fun game, but it’s a terrible Halo game. It’s so frustrating to me that while I bought an Xbox & a 360 for Halo, I’m not buying an Xbox One. I’ll probably never buy another Halo game. Ever. Halo 4 broke me of it.

    1. Pretty much everything he said with extra emphasis on how impenetrable the story is and how horribly written Spartan Ops is.

      1. Yup.

        It only got worse because anytime someone pointed out something that needed fixing, they said “We’re a new studio and we had big shoes to fill. We made mistakes but we made a great game with a great studio. We’re so amazing and great and we’re so proud of our game and our studio and all that we accomplished…ad nauseum.”

        One of the Halo communities made this image about Frankie, one of the leads of 343 and Halo 4:

  2. +1,000. Particularly on the multi-player front..which is pretty much what I’ve always played Halo for. My fondest gaming memories involve late night sessions on Halo 2. There was a strategy involved in going for the rockets or the sword. Great maps like Midship and Lockout. Great times. When I played Halo 4 online I knew right away it was different and not for the better.

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