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Before I start, I just want to say that the following points I'll talk about are my opinion and you are welcome to voice your own in the comments. Thank you.
The Halo series has gotten progressively worse the more 343i takes control of the Halo franchise.
It started with Halo: Reach. Sure, it was mainly in Bungie's control and that means that they have to take some of the blame for the inconsistencies Halo: Reach brought to the table.
Reach to me is just a marketing ploy. It puts you in the boots of your own, customisable soldier that reflects you as a player. In doing this, Reach makes you feel as if you were an integral part in the discovery of the Halo. Being a hardcore Halo fan, I have read and own every single piece of literature released by Bungie to help expand the Halo Universe.
One of these books, Halo: The Fall of Reach, tells the life story of John - 117, the protagonist of the Halo series. It follows him through his journey to becoming a SPARTAN-II and accompanies him on some of the operations he executed as a fully capable SPARTAN. It ends with John boarding the Pillar of Autumn and taking a deep sleep in one of the many cryotubes aboard the ship, having delivered Cortana to Captain Jacob Keyes.
At no part in this book are any of the members of Noble team mentioned. As I said before, I believe Halo: Reach is just a marketing ploy to make the player feel that they were the ones who made the story of the first game possible, therefore I believe the book takes precendence.
But onto the next point.
Halo 4's beggining cinematics are fantastic, I give them that. But there are just some things that make me wonder if 343i even takes ANY notice of Halo's lore. There's one thing that pisses me off most about it. Every SPARTAN shown in the opening cinematic are wearing John's Cortana-altered Mk VI MJOLNIR armour, when they should really be in either Mk V or normal Mk VI armour, depending on what time the cinematics with SPARTANS are set. Cortana made these alterations, making that particular armour set unique.
Cortana has been one of the best video game companions of all time. Bungie created a likeable, somewhat comforting AI companion to aid you, as the Master Chief, through the events of the Halo games. When Bungie was at the franchise's reins, Cortana had a distinct look and demeanour about that defined her. An example of what she looked like in Halo: 3;
And now, with 343i's Halo 4, she turned into this;
Why would 343i make the decision to, what I think, give Cortana an overhaul? Why didn't they just keep her as she appeared in previous games, but give her a graphical upgrade? I and many others would have connected with her a lot more, had she not turned into a completely different character!
Next comes the reason why I lost the last scrap of respect I had for 343i.
The re-introduction of the ODST armour in the Halo 4 multiplayer. Just one game back in the series, Halo 3, ODST's looked like this;
Even the Halo: Reach version looked the same, albiet bulkier;
And then the Halo 4 version came along;
Again, why would 343i give the iconic ODST armour an overhaul? Why did they have to change it? Why not just give it a graphical upgrade? I understand that Halo is now in their hands, but they don't need to show their independance through the destruction of iconic characters and items in the Halo Universe.
And again with the Master Chief. Halo 3;
Master Chief in Halo 4;
Although the last point is justified (MJOLNIR armour contains nano-bots, capable of making hardware upgrades to the armour), it was completely uneccessary to give his armour a complete overhaul. It could have been the armour worn in Halo 3, with some minor hardware upgrades (some new divets and small armour pieces here and there). So again, they destroy another iconic Halo figure. In my mind, the armour worn in Halo 3 also looks a bit more heroic, dontcha think? (It's also funny that they moved that groove the Halo 3 armour had in its visor up just a little. Good job 343i -___-)
Regarding the storyline, 343i dun goofed again. Sure, Cortana has gone rampant. She has been active more than 7 years after all, but they've steered the storyline in a way that just doesn't feel like Halo. To be honest, it just feels like another average pre-next-gen game that just tries too hard.
343i could have done so much better with Halo 4. It makes me wonder if they even listen to people like me. I'd really like to hear what they have to say for themselves.
In my mind, John is still in his cryotube aboard Forward unto Dawn, waiting for Cortana to wake him when she needs him.