I got to participate in a Podcast talking about this game, and, unfortunately, everything I got to say about the game got lost as the sound file was corrupted. But that’s ok, because, first off, I only got to barely skim on the things that I really wanted to talk about and, secondly, I was working on this thing right after we finished the Podcast. I’m sure you’ve seen the review on our website by Rob. If not, you can see it right here. The reason why you’re seeing me right this is because this game is too big for just one person to talk about.
The thing is, I don’t think succeeded in trying to continue the Halo story line. I’m not saying that 343 Industries did a bad job. In fact, this game seems to have resonated well with a lot of people. But was it a game that needed to be made? Well, not with how badly the story was handled. On the Podcast, Rob and Colin wanted to talk about the gameplay, while I wanted to talk about the story or stuff that was surrounding the game rather than the tried and true gameplay we’re all familiar with. It’s why I thought the gameplay was the least interesting thing to talk about; we all know what the gameplay is like, and, chances are, we already know if we’re going to like the game based off of those merits. So, it feels almost kind of pointless. It would make the most sense for me to talk about other things that would help us gain way more insight about these games than just talking about something we already know about. And this game has too many things to talk about for just one person.
How was Halo 4?
Well, it wasn’t bad. Everything that people like about the Halo games are still intact in this game. A recurring thing that was being talked about on the Podcast was that it did a good job with some battle set pieces where you had a lot more open room to deal with and it gave the combat a lot more strategy and depth making the game more exciting. I particularly liked the part with the Mammoth vehicle that you got to ride on, though, I found it weird how it seemed a bit under armed. Sure, it had one big giant lazer thing that could destroy anything with one hit, but aside from that and a couple of rockets, which were destroyed pretty quickly, it didn’t really seem like the Mammoth could hold itself all that well. It constantly had to stop so you can get on one of the vehicles it was holding to get rid of the things that was blocking its path when it could have easily done it itself if it was holding the right weapons.
I also really liked the part where you got to fly in a space ship. You don’t really get to see that enough in games anymore.
The new enemies, the Prometheans, got tiring to fight really, really quickly. They were a nuisance more than anything else. It was especially annoying towards the end of the game when they were the only enemies that showed up. The thing is, they weren’t more challenging to fight, they just took longer to fight. They aren’t like the Hunters where they actually were challenging, where you had to be more strategic in order to beat them . With the Prometheans, it was just like most of the regular Covenant, except the small guys can crawl on walls and the big guys can teleport, and they took more shots to kill. At least the Flood in the previous games were different enough to add a new element of gameplay.
As far as gameplay goes, it’s a serviceable game. There’s not really all that much to talk about. With that being said, it would be more beneficial to talk about the story. Not because it was particularly good; it was because it didn’t really work all that well.
A Big Epic Story Without the Story
After the Podcast, Rob said that he didn’t care about the story at all while Colin seemed perfectly fine with how it turned out. I’m pretty sure it’s a big reason of why they were talking about the gameplay most of all, because the story didn’t really matter all that much to them. The reason why I have a completely different reaction is because if they’re going to use the same kind of gameplay mechanics that we’re already familiar with, then the story is pretty much the only thing that can really still make me care about the series. And in this regard, it’s a big reason why I didn’t feel like it was a necessary addition when it was all said and done.
The best way I can describe this story is that they were baking a cake, and they had most of the right ingredients like sugar, eggs, frosting, but they forgot the flour and the water, and those are pretty vital ingredients. So, the right ingredients they used with this game involve pretty big and epic things. A mysterious planet, ancient evil, space; one could get something done really well with those things in mind. Unfortunately, we get a story that’s pretty clunky in how it’s told.
1. It’s never made clear on what’s going on through out most of the game.
I don’t want to hear that everything is explained in the books, because that’s bull****! Games shouldn’t be some homework assignment where you have to do outside work before play the game, it takes away from the experience as a whole. There’s nothing wrong with throwing things in there that people who know more about the universe will notice while other people may not(i.e. the Avengers’ movies), but when it interferes on the audience knowledge on what’s going on in the plot, all you’re doing is alienating people. I can guarantee that there are going to be tons of people who will go into this game that haven’t read ANY of the Halo books.
A big problem is that the game just throws you into a character who’s been IN A COMA! So, the thing is, using the Master Chief as the Protagonist wasn’t a very smart idea, especially when the game doesn’t really fill you in on anything. You see, there are usually these things called Prologues that a lot of stories use, usually ones that go on a big epic scale like this game, to fill in on the audience on what’s going on and what we should care about. Imagine what the Star Wars movies would be like without the opening crawl or without Obi-Wan talking to Luke about the Empire. Imagine how LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring would have been if it didn’t explain about the history behind the ring. That’s what going through this game feels like!
It eventually gets explained more than half-way through the game, but that’s a really bad place to put information like that. By then, the story is already almost over and it’s hard to care what’s going on anymore.
I think it would have helped if you didn’t play as the Master Chief this time around, though, that’s still kind of stretching it a bit. It probably would have been better if you got to play as one of the Spartans that was a part of the military, because they would at least know something about this new kind of Covenant. Hey, maybe somebody know something about the Prometheans. Maybe we could have seen if the Storm Covenant knew something about something.
There are many different ways to convey this kind of information, and, unfortunately, we learn next to nothing about it.
2. Cortana’s Plot Was Stupid
I’ll admit, once her story finally came to a full circle, it affected me pretty greatly. I won’t spoil anything, but, prepared to get your feelings touched by the end of the game if you haven’t played it already. Other than that though, her part of the plot just felt like a really cheap way to raise the stakes in this game.
The thing is, towards the beginning of the game, we learn that her AI chip is getting old, and she’s going rampant, which will cause her to eventually die. It’s nothing that was ever really hinted at in the previous games, and all it really ends up doing is making things worse. I understand that it was supposed to do exactly that, but it really annoyed me more than anything else. I probably would have accepted her getting a virus by her travelling through the Promethean systems.
I guess the thing is that I didn’t really like what it added to the plot. The instant they brought this up, my first thought was “Man, this is exactly the kind of things that happens whenever an unnecessary sequel happens.” But, like I said, once it came into full circle, it came to be a really effective ending, it’s just that the approach was off really badly.
3. The Bad Guy Isn’t Even a Character
He seriously isn’t…..at all!
I don’t even think I was going to touch on this part of the game until Stretch brought him up to me, and when he did, I though “Oh yeah, that guy existed.” Seriously, that’s how much of an effect the main Antagonist has had on me. I remember the Promethean enemies I had to constantly fight, but that was because they started to annoy the living crap out of me. When something else is more memorable because they we’re annoying, that’s not exactly a good thing. But even if you liked fighting the Prometheans, I’m willing to bet that the main bad guy didn’t really do much for you either.
He’s called the Didact, and the thing is, he feels like he’s there because the developers forgot that it’s generally a good idea to have a main antagonist when it comes to stories, so they just stuck in some guy that looks evil. I guess he really wants to destroy the human race…..ya know….because he’s evil. While it’s (sadly) really common for bad guys to have unclear motivations, it can be handled pretty well if were giving something to remember the character by. I just got through seeing the movie Skyfall, where they actually did make a really good villain. Even if he had unclear motivations, he was flamboyant, crazy, and he was memorable. He had a great impact on the plot as well. The bad guy in this game has even less character than the Master Chief and his impact on the plot isn’t that effective at all. Sure, he was kind of the leader behind everything and the ultimate cause of the conflict, but the fact that he was barely even there doesn’t ring well with the story….at all.
It’s hard to talk about this character when there’s basically nothing to talk about. I do have a feeling that there’s an even bigger bad guy we’re going to have to be dealing with in later games, though, for those who stuck around til the end of the credits.
And that’s Where I Stand
This is really my overall reaction with the game. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination and, as far as I can see, it seems to have worked well with a lot of people. But, the thing is, the reason why I feel like it’s an unnecessary addition to the Halo series is because it doesn’t really add all that much to the Halo universe, and the way how its story was told didn’t really help either. In fact, had the story been told better, I think it would have been a welcoming addition to the Halo series. Instead, it just kind of feels like we’re trudging through another Halo game.
Sidenote 1: I mentioned on the Podcast that I thought Halo 2 was the best Halo game. I quickly learned that saying that was on par with saying something like “I like to kill babies”, but I guess it’s understandable as it seems like that game is kind of the black sheep. Apparently the game was broken and even Bungie considered a failure(going off of Colin’s words), but, from where I stand, the gameplay is about as good as all of the other Halo games. It’s just that, the reason why I find it better than the other games is because it focused on The Arbiter and the Covenant, and they were so much more interesting than the military we’re stuck with. Learning about the Covenant and why they were fighting brings up really good things to think about on religion and controlling people. On the human side however, it’s basically a military wet dream. I know that some of the members from the Covenant team up with the Human and fight for what’s probably the right side, but it kind of makes me wonder why they didn’t start with a character like The Arbiter in the first place. Not only would it have games with solid gameplay, it would also have something to say. Isn’t that something more interesting?
Sidenote 2: Ok, I can’t really let this one go, because, apparently it’s big news when someone gives a game people like a 2 out of 10 score. Really people? Really? You’re throwing a tantrum because somebody gave a game a score you didn’t like? I read his review, he made some really good points, he justified his score. There! Case closed! You know why this shouldn’t be a big deal? BECAUSE IT’S AN OPINION! We all have them! If you honestly are hurt by the fact that it’s going hurt the score it has on Metacritic, then I suggest you stop reading reviews entirely. Seriously people, grow the **** up!