Halo 3, and the Halo series in general, is mind bendingly good. To say the pressure on 343 to make a good game out of Halo 4 was huge would be a massive understatement. In fact, I wasn't even going to try it only I found it for a fiver and thought I might as well give it a punt.
Was it worth the punt?
Is it great?
The gameplay, graphics, thats all good but the story and sound take a huge step back. The story is split into two core halves, the first focuses on Cortana’s impending rampancy and her relationship with Chief and, although it isn't explored in great depth, it is done very well and is very entertaining and adds a nice dimension to the Halo story and both of the characters. The other half involves Chief fighting against generic bad guy who has a generic plan to generically wipe out generic man kind generic generic insert stock sci-fi plot here.
Now I'm not saying the Halo universe has ever had incredibly unique sci-fi writing, but it was at least done exceptionally well. This time around it just seemed lazy. The bad guys and their home world are cool but honestly it seems like very minimal effort was put into the story and most effort went into the graphics. Let’s talk about that for a bit.
This game looks stunning. It is easily the 360’s best looking game and is truly remarkable. The draw distance, character models, environments, animations and framerate are all second to none and Master Chief has legs, which is always good in an FPS. The game really is a great case for the 360’s power and honestly there were countless times where I just stopped to look at things and take in the view. Sadly the sound cant have the same said about it. The effects are great but the soundtrack, like the story, is very by the numbers. The composer does a passable job but after the genre defining scores of Bungie’s games you have to ask why they didn't try harder with this one. The sound of the Halo universe is very important for me and this just doesn't have that Halo feel about it.
So the gameplay? Well its good, but never great. Each Halo game has a standout moment, with Halo 3 having its excellent driving section at the end, Reach having your awesome fight to the death and so on. This game has no such moment, it tries to recreate some of them but constantly fails and ends up being little more than an enjoyable shooting gallery. Its fun and functional but not worthy of the Halo franchise.
Fortunately the multiplayer makes up for this, the use of items like jet packs and a more CoDified approach, if you'll pardon the phrase, actually makes for a great experience. Its fast, fun and very addictive and easily rivals the greatness of Halo 3’s multiplayer.
So, Halo 4, good but never great, its an enjoyable game and one I am happy to own but I cant help but think Halo 5 really needs to pull out the stops.
Verdict: The worst game in the series but still a very enjoyable, very capable FPS with some good additions to the series.