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New to the franchise? Want to know which games to get first? This series is for you.
With Halo 5: Guardians' release imminent, I thought I'd take the time to make a weekly series, in the vein of Wilc0's Halo 101, reviewing each of the Halo games up to this point, and then top it off at the end with a review of Halo 5 itself. Starting with Halo: CE, it will run right through to the 8th of November, by which time I will have played enough Halo 5 to give it a fair review. Finally, on the 15th of November (which, coincidentally, is my birthday) I'll top the series off with a top 10 list of the best Halo games of all time.
Some games will be grouped together, such as Halo PC and Halo: CE. Additionally, graphics will not be discussed in these reviews (art styles and framerates may, though) because we're reviewing retro games here - the original Xbox couldn't handle 1080p. While this series is mainly for those who either cannot play these games due to lack of time or money (or those who (rightly) don't trust review sites), feel free to read and share your thoughts if you have played. Oh, and don't worry: I haven't been paid by Microsoft or anything, these are all my honest opinions.
In no way was Halo 4 bad - it was a good game, but not a good Halo game.
After half a decade, we finally got the return of the the legendary Master Chief. However, Halo 4 strayed too far from what had become expected of Halo, in what can only be perceived as an attempt to attract players from more profitable franchises such as Call of Duty. In no way was Halo 4 bad - it was a good game, but not a good Halo game.
From a story perspective, Halo 4 is all over the place. While some of the writing is great (namely that between Thomas Lasky and the Chief, and Chief and Cortana) some felt clunky, like the exchanges between Palmer and Chief, where Palmer felt very flippant (not an attitude a SPARTAN would or should have). One common piece of praise I've heard of Halo 4 is that it incorporates the 'extended universe' into the game's story. However, this praise, in my opinion, is completely misplaced. It didn't make the EU part of the game, it made it necessary for the game. Think about it - without reading the Forerunner saga, how would you know why the Didact was bent on exterminating humanity? Without reading the Kilo-Five trilogy, how would you know about Jul 'Mdama or why humanity was fighting the Covenant remnants? Let's hope they do this better in Halo 5: Guardians.
The campaign level design is actually great. Not sure what else to write here. It continues to offer the choice-based gameplay, where the player can choose how they want to approach any situation, while still driving the player along the correct path. So, yeah, great work, level designers!
My least favourite thing about the game, though, is the redesigns. Don't get me wrong, redesigns are a good thing; they help keep the franchise fresh, and allow the graphic designers to put their own touches and spins on things. However, the approach the artists took (they've even admitted it in some ViDocs, as if it were a good thing) was to 'redefine' the art styles of different things. This is the wrong approach. What they should've said would be 'what can we add to this?' As a result of the efforts to redefine the art styles of the Covenant, we got species that are barely recognisable. It often feels like the art designers were trying to make the Covenant feel scary and unrelatable, something which goes completely against the [better] way they were portrayed in Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST. While I thought the new Forerunner architecture design was brilliant, the Prometheans... Not so much. They looked Forerunner, granted, but their designs were filled with sweeping curves that look more at home in Covenant designs. Personally, I think they would've looked better retaining the classic angular Forerunner design philosophy. The UNSC equipment is all over the place too. While they did manage to conjure some great designs like the MA5D Assault Rifle and BR85 Battle Rifle, other designs like M45D Shotgun simply abandoned the idea that UNSC equipment had to be utilitarian. And don't even get me started on most of the MJOLNIR designs... I mean, why would they put a HORN on a piece of military equipment, for god's sake!?
The music was... mediocre. Some of it was great, some of it was not. It does have tracks that are absolutely great, and feel well at home in Halo, but also has others that are as forgettable as that guy you walked past on the street yesterday. What guy? Exactly. Luckily though, Halo 5's music seems set to be better
One massive piece of praise I'll shower on Halo 4's multiplayer is the map design. Haven, Exile and the like have the potential to become classics. They're not perfect, but they're miles about what Halo: Reach had to offer. The weapon balancing (post-patch) was quite good, too. However, custom loadouts and armour abilities ruin this game for me. They seemed to be attempts to gain over fans of other franchises like Call of Duty, and never fit into the arena gameplay Halo multiplayer has always been known for. It'll be interesting to see how they'll cater to the segregated fanbase in Halo 5, and if it works.
Halo 4's Forge took one step forward, and three steps back. Magnets, and the delete by palette options were great, but they removed key features like precision editing. Nevertheless, some great maps still came out of it, and 343i's readiness to implement said maps into matchmaking was great.
|As a game that was made by a studio still getting to its feet, it wasn't bad. However, its multiplayer population tanked after launch, so if you're looking for a good online matchmaking community, you came to the wrong place.|
|Lasky, Chief and Cortana were all relatable characters.|
|Great level design both in Campaign and Multiplayer.|
|Great customisation options (albeit with mostly-crappy armour designs to pick from).|
|Vaguely improved Forge.|
|343i were open to mods, even including some in matchmaking.|
|Mediocre music. Some was great, some utterly forgettable.|
|A mediocre story with mostly 2-dimensional characters.|
|That massive fight with the Didact you were imagining was reduced to a mere quicktime event.|
|Art style was completely overhauled, in the wrong direction.|
|Custom loadouts and Armour Abilities detract from the multiplayer experience.|
|The writing was sloppy at times.|
|No 'DLC' map playlist - you never get to play the maps you paid for.|
|Weapon skins are unneeded and have no place in Halo, in my opinion. Why on Earth would a military paint its weapons with ridiculous patterns?|
Halo 4: King of the Hill Fuled by Mountain Dew
Whether you consider it a game or not, I can't help but agree with this Game Rant quote: '[Halo's] sterling record now sports an unsightly, if inconsequential, blemish'.
'What!?' I hear you say, 'That was hardly a game! More of a joint promotion...' Call it what you want. I'm still calling 343i out on it. Whether you consider it a game or not, I can't help but agree with this Game Rant quote: '[Halo's] sterling record now sports an unsightly, if inconsequential, blemish'.
Halo 4: KOTH Fuled By Mountain Dew (yes, they actually, genuinely misspelt 'Fueled' in the title when they published it to the app store) was a promotional app/game released on iOS and Android which encouraged players to go into a specific brand of stores (7-Eleven) and buy obscene amounts of two specific brands of confectionery (Doritos and Mountain Dew) in order to become the 'King of the Hill' at that store, and earn in-game rewards for Halo 4. In other words, it's a total sellout. It looks like almost no effort was put into it (to the extent that a fan made Halo font was used as the 'Halo 4' in the trailer, despite the fact the official 'Halo 4' logo had been used at the beginning). I don't think I need to spell out any more about this game. It was a quick, cheaply-made cash-in, hoping fans would rush to stores to buy as many Doritos as possible. Done.
Sorry for the quick review, I just don't want to dwell on this topic.
|An absolute sell-out. Microsoft, or 343i, or whoever gave Ogmento the rights to make this should be ashamed. Let's hope we don't get anything similar for Halo 5- Oooohhhhhhh crap...|
|It offered some decent stuff for Halo 4 which is kinda cool I guess.|
|Cheaply, quickly made, with no regard to Halo's integrity as a franchise.|
|I could make something better over the course of a weekend. No seriously, I could.|
So, why the constant references to Halo 5 in these reviews? I'm pointing out the flaws 343i's previous entry into the main series had, so that later, I may address whether they fixed them or not, in my Halo 5 review.
Next week on Dab Reviews... We take a look at the game which could, should and would have been the best first-person shooter experience ever, but was ruined by a truck-load of bugs, glitches and errors. That's right, we're taking a look at Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
16:21, October 11, 2015 (UTC)