First Impressions: Halo 4 is Proof That The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same
The moment I fired up Halo 4 for the first time, I felt something was off. Not bad per say…but different. The reason I immediately felt the change when I first started up the game was the obvious lack of Martin O’Donnell’s amazing Halo theme. Yes, as far as I can tell, that theme has all but disappeared. And for a game in which the music is so damn important, the absence of that theme is immediately felt. At first, this had me worried—was this going to be the shell of the Halo series that I once knew and loved? Let’s just say I was nervous when I pressed the start button to begin the campaign. But after mere minutes of actual gameplay, I immediately felt a sense of familiarity well playing Halo 4…for better and for worse.
Honestly, Halo 4 so far doesn’t feel like the franchise reinvention everyone thought it would be. In fact, this kind of feels like a step backwards compared to the huge changes made in ODST and Reach. But don’t get me wrong; that’s not really a complaint. Things feel familiar here…but when you have something as well crafted as the Halo games, it’s really hard to screw it up.
Before we get even further though, let me just preface this by saying that this First Impression will only be discussing my thoughts on the first half or so of the campaign, since that’s all I’ve played of the game so far. There won’t be any spoilers for those who are worried, and this will be in no way, shape, or form as well constructed as an actual review for the game. These are just my quick thoughts so far, and could easily change by the time I actually publish my full review. Anyways, on with the show.
Playing Halo 4 is a pretty damn badass experience, something I’ve always appreciated about the Halo games. Maybe its the massive amount of enemies seemingly always attacking you or the wide open maps, but Halo has always been fantastic in terms of scale, and Halo 4 is no exception. In fact, it may beat out all the other games combined. I literally stood jaw dropped for a minute as I watched a Covenant ship zoom pass me on the planet Requiem. This can probably be attributed to two primary reasons: 1) the game is flat out gorgeous and 2) the sense of mystery in Halo has returned, and with a vengeance.
I always loved the first Halo more than all the others solely because of how the game was set up. You’re not a badass in some super awesome war. You’re a dude who just woke up from cryo and crash landed on a planet in which you have no idea what the fuck is going on. And it’s pretty evident that’s exactly the same style 343 Industries was aiming for with Halo 4. This game probably resembles the first game more than any of the other Halo games, and that’s something I’m really not complaining about.
The gameplay is still fantastic but, like I said, this is Halo, and its not like 343 did a lot to change things up this time around. No, things are pretty much the same gameplay wise. But like I said, with such an impressive system, I don’t see why you would want to change anything anyways. Nice to see armor abilities back though, even if the return of fall damage kind of sucks.
Overall, I have nothing but great things to say about Halo 4 thus far. The controls are as polished as ever, and the graphics are insanely close to what we should expect from the next generation. I love the return of mystery to the series, as the plot unfolds in ways that I’m still not sure what to expect. The only thing that’s bugging me this far is the aforementioned music, and not because its bad—it’s just kind of there. I haven’t heard a single track that has gotten to me in the way that the previous games’ scores did, and since that’s such a pivotal part of the Halo experience, I can only hope the music will get better as the story progresses. This really feels like a new beginning for Master Chief—but its still the same old Halo we’ve come to know and love.
Anywho, keep checking back to Geek Binge to catch our full review of Halo 4 when it hits, where we’ll delve into more specifics regarding the campaign, multiplayer, and brand new Spartan Ops mode. Until then, have fun skipping work and ignoring your family! You have Covenant to slay, soldier.