Home / Video Games / Video Game Editorials / Halo 4 And Why I No Longer Care About the Future of the Halo Franchise
image

Halo 4 And Why I No Longer Care About the Future of the Halo Franchise

I’m going to get this out of the way early, and despite my best efforts, I still feel this will fall on deaf ears due to my greater point, but I’ll try anyways: I am a Halo fanatic. Not a fan, a fanatic. I’ve been in love with this franchise since the beginning, and devoted every single day of my life through middle school on Halo 2. I was there, in line, for the midnight releases. I got the legendary edition (and helmet) for Halo 3, I was blown away by Firefight in ODST, and I also loved Reach. The lore, the gameplay, the music, the simplicity and the mystery, almost everything about the Halo universe has intrigued me and hooked me, and I really didn’t know for sure how to feel about another studios taking over a part of my life (much like a recent film franchise purchased by a corporation). And after completing the campaign, and Spartan Ops, and everything multiplayer has to offer, I have finally found some peace and can openly express my inner thoughts and hesitant fears.

I no longer care about the fate of the Halo franchise.

I don’t care anymore. I’ve moved on. It’s over. I have completely lost interest, and have learned to listen to my instincts instead of grasping for my nostalgia and lost childhood. For as hard as 343 industries tried, and how much money Microsoft threw at it, Halo 4 is just an okay game. It’s good. It’s not great, it’s not amazing, and it’s not genre defying or ground breaking. I wasn’t expecting it to be, and frankly I’m not surprised it turned out that way. And while it feels like Halo, plays like Halo, and holds onto previous traditions and customs (not always for the best), the finished product is just too inconsistent of a game to spend any more time with. For everything 343 does right, they do two things wrong. It’s this constant up and down of emotions for me that killed it, and having to analyze and debate every decision the studios made is excruciating and moot; too moot to spend playing a game that I don’t feel any affinity for, and too moot to remember in the years to come.

I feel like the months leading up to the release, there were more questions than they had answers for, and all of the previews and walkthroughs and pitches in the world convinced me of nothing. I knew I had to get my hands on it before I came to any conclusions. And I gave it a fair shake, but ultimately I came away not only disappointed in the end result, but with the direction the franchise was going. I’m sure no big corporate decisions are made nowadays without thinking about trilogies in mind to keep the producers happy. My biggest grip is just how large the divide is between the things they kept around and the things they changed. It seemed they were at war with what to keep in and what to toss out, and many of the new “improvements” are not really improvements, but simply experiments that didn’t pan out.

The campaign is brutally short, and devoid of any real memorable moments or creative gameplay design. Many of the levels seem like they were ripped out of previous games, and it didn’t feel as familiar as it felt plagiaristic. The gondola segment from the Halo 2 level ‘Regret’ is present here again. Much of the interiors of the Forerunner planet were reminiscent of the design and layouts from Halo 1. Master Chief runs through a similar forest ala Halo 3, and there is a blatant attempt to copy the ‘New Alexandria’ flying mission. Hell, there’s even a Star Fox segment, and it isn’t that much fun, and I would complain about it being frustrating and not responsive, but it’s over all too soon. I mean, if you are going to steal from the best, at least put in a barrel roll. Sure, it’s a funny reference, but it actually makes sense when flying a plane into a tight corridor where things are moving.

The story, maybe the worst part of my experience with it, will be something I argue over for the rest of my life, and I’m not happy about this fact folks, trust me. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but I will say there is a lot of unexplained nonsense being thrown around, a TON of button pushing animations, and some Prometheus type stuff going on with the narrative. I bring that film up not only for the connections plot wise but plot-hole wise too. The whole brouhaha of it being Master Chief’s story was a total lie, and the ending leaves much to be desired. While there has never been a true antagonist in Halo games before, the one introduced here doesn’t impress. He shows up once, looks like Sloth from the Goonies, and then a scene from Thor happens on a bridge, including multiple clones of a character trying to psyche someone out. The TV ads foretold that we would awake an ancient evil. Really, he was just groggy and takes off the whole game in an unexplained flying ball thing. Even the new enemies are given a cliché story. Once you find out what they used to be, you’ll roll your eyes.

Spartan Ops, to me, are extra missions repackaged. There’s no telling what the future will have in store for that, but I prefer to play Borderlands 2 DLC packs for $10 a pop every month. And finally multiplayer, the thing I’ve spent the most time on in my life with Halo, is hit and miss. The new modes are good, it plays fine, and the control scheme works to incorporate sprinting. But the maps are generally bad, and why in Martin O’Donnell’s name would they remake Valhalla, of all maps? There was a clear choice to try and emulate the patented COD formula, and many of the changes that were inspired by the success of the original Modern Warfare are weak attempts to play catch up with the ever changing landscape and tastes of the general gaming population. It took them how long to let people join games mid match? That wasn’t even Halo 4’s fault, that’s just Bungie’s.

The fact that you have to spend points to unlock the guns and perks is just plain stupid. In an attempt to ‘balance’ the game by forcing people to choose wisely and not experiment, you suggest they should stick to the overpowered guns and perks in the meantime. And there aren’t enough guns and perks and abilities to justify the COD progression system at all. Storm rifle? Please, that gun is garbage. So is the suppressor. The only thing worth using is the DMR, and I don’t want to be pigeonholed to use it because the maps don’t cater to all types of weapons.

I could go on and on, and I’ve essentially written a long rant about the game, but I just had to vent. The hype behind this game, the years of waiting and rumors and pre-order exclusive skins and armor suits that grant powers (ugh), it all leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Sure, you can spend millions on marketing, and Doritos and Mountain Dew, and especially on graphics and cut scenes (they are GORGEOUS), but that all amounts to nothing if I don’t want to play your game. At all. Now I don’t want to get into a flame war about another big FPS that just came out, so I’ll just say that compared to the improvements and humor and lasting power Borderlands 2 provides, WITHOUT multiplayer mind you, it’s an easy choice for what to recommend for the holidays. And shooter of the year. Halo 4 broke my heart, and makes me want to write a Halo 2 retrospective now. Damn you to hell Bungie for letting go of your baby.

-Jared

Enjoyed this article? Make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to keep up with even more Geek Binge related goodness! And if you want Geek Binge fun in a timely, convenient fashion, make sure to subscribe to our RSS Feed or Daily Email Newsletter!

About Jared Russo

Jared Russo is the Gaming Editor for Geek Binge, a graduate student at Hofstra University for Journalism, and enjoys using sarcasm in his free time. He is an avid fan of the Knicks, and is a semi-pro tournament player in Street Fighter 4 and Dive Kick. He also advocates The Wire using hyperbole whenever possible, mostly as host of the Screen Bytes podcast.

Cool Stuff From Other Cool Sites

  • Sergius

    I know that feeling bro, Halo 4 disappointed me horribly, the history is so weird, the promethean knights are an enemy as long as they see you, if you fire them from a long distance, they just die without an effort, all the weapons sound like the same, warthog sounds like an old volkswagen, the ending is like…. so?? what now?? i think that it lost its essence, it’s no longer halo, it’s just another shooter game… a real real shame… and i share your opinion, Bungie should never let go this amazing universe

  • ha

    Halo 4 is the best Halo yet. they beat bungie and their own game. WTF is wrong with the guy who wrote this? too much heroin dude

  • ha

    Ihatethepresonwhowrotethisarticle

  • Ben

    The game lacks the Halo essence. The way the story plays out just doesn’t do it for me and it seems very cliche. The antagonist has probably ten seconds of camera time, and maybe a page of dialogue. Major characters like Hood and the Arbiter are completely ignored. Its as if 343 just wanted to take MC and Cortana and slap them into their own sci-fi adventure rather than build on the universe. I feel they closed every door Bungie left open at the end of Halo 3- and the doors 343 have opened aren’t all to be desired. Overall, I was very disappointed with the way the story unraveled. The ending is a slap in the face to one of the main plot lines I thought the new trilogy would endure. “FIND HALSEY! FIND HALSEY! ….oh wait, what were we doing? Shit, too late :/” Unfortunately, 343 is getting praised for their game from all the meat head gamers who just think the game is great for the epic cutscenes and big explosions, rather that us fans who depended on them to make a game that followed the Lore, was mature about it, and continued a story that by this point was labeled as a SciFi Saga. They claimed it was a direct continuation of the 3rd Halo, yet they don’t acknowledge hardly anything at all from previous games. I really don’t know where they will go with this story now. Quite honestly, I’m not too interested. The whole thing is too much a generic sci fi story anyways. Yawn.
    As for MP, CoD anyone? Loadouts, NOT A FAN. No set weapon spawns on map, NOT A FAN. Ordinance, NOT A FAN. I really thought the multiplayer took a hit here. I dont understand what they were thinking when they shredded the Halo MP formula. I want to spawn with an AR all the time. If i get a BR or DMR, i should have to grab it from the map. Not spawn with it! Its the only freaking gun i use now! I strongly believe that Halo needs weapons on map. Otherwise the game feels empty and repetitive. For Example: I was playing on Abandon, and as we all know, everybody rushed the tower…well, i had spawned in the back, and decided to look around for a second. I quickly realized that there was about a half of that map that NOBODY EVER USED. Why? Because there wasnt a weapon spawn there. If u put a power weapon there, then people would have to sacrifice high ground at the tower to get high firepower off in the forest. Weapons on map allow the entire map to be used, strategized, and learned. I also think the ranking system leaves something to be desired. Very boring progression. “YOU’RE A WINNER NO MATTER WHAT!!!!” Im sorry, but am i the ONLY fan of the Halo 2/3 ranking system. I believe that the better you are as a player/team, the more you should go up in rank, not just how much you play the game. If you lose, you should go down in rank. If you win, go up. IT DRIVES PEOPLE TO GET BETTER. Plus, if i saw a level 50 in halo 2 or 3, i thought, damn he must be good! in halo reach and halo 4 if i see a guy who is the highest level, all i can think is, damn he is obsessed! I miss when rank meant something-when it mirrored your skill. All i can try to improve now is my Kill Death Ratio…only gauge of my skill left in the game. oh and the lack of maps is saddening. sure they have 10 launch day maps, but you only play like 3 or 4 per gametype. It feels very limiting when you vote for one of the same 3 maps every time you start a match.
    SPARTAN OPS=CRAP
    FORGE= SHOULDA JUST REHASHED FORGE WORLD, WOULDA BEEN BETTER THAN WHAT THEY GOT NOW.
    -Well, thats my opinion. Hope it isnt too much of a “haters gonna hate” thing. Cuz i dont hate on halo. I played Halo 2 and 3 religiously and find no other franchise that satisfies my gaming hunger better…until Halo 4 of course. meh…..8/10 and thats generous…
    -Dogtag Duke :XBL GT

  • Frankie J widdly scuds

    343 completely abandoned the great universe and story that bungie left them. The planet seen at the very end of halo 3 was supposed to be Onyx. The enemies were basically shoe-horned in with essentially zero explanation to it. Everything about the halo universe was great when bungie had it especially the books! I agree with the writer, I’m just as much done with halo as he is.

  • Jmonster

    I am going to have to disagree with you on many points here. First of all, this campaign has replaced Halo 1 as my favorite. This one finally has something almost all the others (except Reach) lacked. Characters. This Halo had me on the edge of my seat the entire way through. And before you say “You must be new here,” I’m not. This has been my favorite franchise ever since I’ve played the first one back in holiday 2001. And as for your “similarities” or “ripoffs”, of course the forerunner levels are going to be reminiscent of Halo 1. I don’t think they’d deviate from their designs between installations. Now on to multiplayer. I disagree with many of the changes they’ve instituted. My biggest gripe is with the “Join session in progress” bullshit that has no business being in Halo. And while I don’t think loadouts should have been in Halo past what they were in Reach, I think 343 did a very good job in keeping it balanced and fair. And another big gripe is with weapon despawn times. No, that isnt a typo. The amount of time it takes for a weapon to disappear from the map is unbelievably short. I’ve literally died while sniping, spawn not 200 ft away from my death point, run back to my body in less than 15 seconds, and BOOM, it’s gone. This is one thing that I hope is patchable because I can’t count the number of times I’ve made it back to my dead body and my power weapon is gone. Rarely has it been the case where someone else took it. I’ve even watched vanish as I was sprint desperately towards it.

  • Tanner Mayfield

    why would the planet be onyx? Why? where did you even get that idea, this is a planet, by the ark, which mind you is on the edge of the galaxy, that obviously doesnt have a human base on. If it was onyx. do you think they wouldnt have realized the big freaking halo making flower? your an insult to halo fans.

  • Real fan

    I couldn’t disagree more. The relationship between. Master chief and cortana it way more online with the books and has been realitivly unexplored in the previous games. I think 343 did exceptional with what they had to work with and left it open ended enough that anything could happen in the next games.

  • BetaMaxCrystalPepsi

    Halo is and always has been Microsoft’s. Bungie just developed the game for Microsoft. Deal with it. Bungie is not the biological father the writer of this article assumes. The real question is why did Jon Favereau get a special thanks credit?

  • GruntChieftain2

    The point of Halo 4 was to leave the game open for a larger story in Halo 5 or 6. I personally loved the story and can see that the only reason Halo fans would dislike the campaign is because of the small scale. Compared to Halo 2 and 3 (not Halo 1) the campaign was centered around a small area. The way I look at it is as a variation of Halo 1. Halo 1 had you stay on the ring for all the game, had Guilty Spark as the main antagonist with very little screen time, and had the boarded Pillar of Autumn. I’m giving 343 the benefit of the doubt, and am assuming that this is just a little taste to what is to come. If Halo 5 is similar to Halo 4 in scale, then I would lose faith in the series. However, I expect them to be epic galactic scale battles like in Halo 2 and 3. As for multiplayer they should take out/nerf all precision weapons.

  • A pissedoff true halo fan

    No. Halo 4 is the biggest insult to Halo ever. Its basically a Halo themed mod for Black Ops.
    The campaign is piss-poor. Its so short and has nothing special about it. Its just the same nonsense again and again; ”activate this pillar. They work in pairs so there has to be another one to activate opposite it”. The dialogue is dumbed-down ofcourse to appeal to the MW fanbase. MasterChief uncharacteristically speaks way too much.
    How dare 343 call it Halo. Its a disgrace. The multiplayer is a wannabe-MW. Halo has always been completely seperate and much better than the MW’s and BlackOps. But now its just copying them, and appealing to the retarded 14 year old MW and BlackOps audience. Also, at the start of a multiplayer game, the 3 beeps used to indicate the start of the round, not some transition to some rubbish cod-like spinning of the unsc badge.
    The weapons are SHIT. That machine gun thingy is such a noob gun, clearly made for COD players. The whole ‘ordnance’ idea is disgusting. The scoring system is pathetic. The forerunner designs are ridiculously underwhelming. The weapons they chose to incorporate are so boring. No SMG etc. The weapon sounds are so call of duty; they sound like bb guns and the smoke and rocket affects are below average. The grenades are no longer deadly. The maps lack any passion or atmosphere like they did in Halo 2, halo 3 and especially Halo 1.
    Now onto the music. Halo is famous for that monk chant but now thats gone. It’s also famous for the most epic, emotional, poignant and beautiful music in any game. However, the new soundtrack is barely audible and completely different than the majestic beauty all us Halo lovers are used to. Its a very poor soundtrack lacking any kind of emotion. I could honestly go on and on pointing out all the million and one disappointments of this shambles which 343 have shamelessly called ‘Halo’. RIP Halo. You lasted from Combat Evolved to Reach.

  • Tam B

    Harsh bro! But sadly true. I can’t remember anything about the campaign at all. Too similar to Halo3. And this new universe history is lame. Try reading one of the novels! Yikes! And the new bad guys are pointless adversaries. If I wanted to kill robot dogs I’d look for some kind of mutant skag in Borderlands! There has to be one in there somewhere! It looked wonderful but so what? I yawned and traded it in for Bioshock Infinite after two weeks! And I’m yawning through that as well! Reach and ODST are my favourites in the series. I hope 343 can start saying something with their next installment. Please do! Dump the universe and get masterchief his girlfriend back! That’s what it’s really all about, and it’s all we really care about. Just being honest…….

  • The Demihuman

    I liked the campaign, but hated the multiplayer. The fact that I was limited to only Spartans (I’d much rather play as an elite) really irked me. Plus, I don’t want to pay only character model points for weapons I could just use normally. Not only that, but the multiplayer has balancing issues. The DMR is more broken than Psychic Types in Pokémon red and blue. The bloom does not affect the DMR’s accuracy at all. In fact, the rounds ALWAYS fire in a straight line. This has made the DMR my most hated weapon in the entire Halo franchise. Thanks, but I’d much rather play Panzer Dragoon Orta.

  • Alex Davies

    I couldn’t agree more. All the other Halos had a feel to them that I couldn’t find in Halo 4. For example, when I got Halo: Reach in for christmas two years ago I naturally got straight to playing it. It was so awesome I got hooked for days and weeks. The campaign also stuck in my mind, the (SPOILER ALERT) deaths of Noble Team all felt genuinely sad and well executed in a cinematic sense. With Halo 4, I played it for what, two hours through a boring, unoriginal campaign and left it for good. That’s how bad it was.

  • Swamp34

    A true Halo fan would have some respect for other games like COD. I’m a Halo fan, but I don’t go posting remarks about how Halo betters other games. That’s just arrogant of you. Please have more respect for other people who actually enjoy playing Halo 4.