Like most Halo fans, I’ve always preferred Bungie’s original take on the franchise over 343’s interpretation. That’s not exactly a hot take, it’s a very common opinion. There’s a lot of nostalgia for Bungie’s original games and 343 really had their work cut out for them when they took on this project.
With Halo 4 being released on PC, I was not interested. Halo 4 and 5 were seen by me and most other Halo fans as inferior games not worth our time. I would have to say that they don’t live up to the highs of the original games and have way too many lows. So, with Halo 4 being released on PC I thought I’ll just skip this one.
But since Cyberpunk’s been delayed, I needed something to play while I wait. And to my surprise, Halo 4 actually isn’t that bad.
A Beautiful World
The thing I noticed when I launched up the first level was that I’d forgotten how good this game looks. Even by today’s standards, it’s still a damn good-looking game graphically. The character models are detailed, and the motion capture makes them move in realistic ways. And all the environments and lighting really help to set the scene.
Of course, I do think there is let down by the art style department. The long-abandoned Forerunner architecture seems just a bit too shiny and new. And don’t even get me started on the Covenant’s new designs.
But despite the letdowns, if 343’s goal was to make Halo more cinematic they definitely achieved that in this game. Especially when it comes to the story in the cut-scenes.
A Story With Emotion
The story and characters are pretty lackluster. I couldn’t care less about the Didact and I can’t tell you one defining characteristic of any of the Infinity crew. It’s not good writing when you need to read Wikipedia articles just to understand who the majority of the characters even are.
However, the relationship between Chief and Cortana is fleshed out in this game more than anything in Bungie’s time. Having to watch Cortana, who you’ve been with since Combat Evolved, in pain and slowly dying really does elicit a reaction from the player. You feel something for Cortana and Chief. It seems like Bungie was never able to get this kind of reaction from players.
Still Feels Like Halo at its Core
Most people probably don’t agree with the changes 343 made in this game. But one thing they tried to keep constant was the feel of the gameplay. Shooting a grunt in the head with a pistol or hitting the little hole in a Jackal shield to make them stumble back and you get a good head-shot is still the same. Even with the new enemies, the gun-play still feels like Halo. Of course, it isn’t as good as previous Halo games but it’s still pretty decent.
If you’ve enjoyed other Halo games, you’ll at least enjoy the actual combat of Halo 4. Even though the Prometheans aren’t as interesting as the Flood, and the final boss fight is a quick-time event.
Let Down by Better Games
I think the best way to describe Halo 4 is good, but nowhere near as good as other Halo games. And that’s where most of the criticism lies. If Halo 4 existed in a vacuum, a brand new IP that nobody had ever heard of, it would be seen as a franchise with potential.
There’s some interesting lore, decent enemy designs and the environments still look pretty good. This isn’t a bad game by any means, it’s just being compared to better games. There’s so much nostalgia for Bungie’s Halo that it’s hard for people to judge Halo 4 on its own merits. And it doesn’t help that the game always gets lumped in with the disappointment that is Halo 5.
I’m not going to convince anyone that Halo 4 is even holding a candle to Bungie’s games, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game. I’ve definitely played worse.
Since most people who bought Halo on PC bought the entire Master Chief Collection or got it through Game Pass, you already own Halo 4 so you might as well give it a go. Besides, we gotta kill time waiting for Cyberpunk 2077 anyway.
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