I’ve decided to take on this special challenge of writing a video game review for an audience that doesn’t generally care about video games or is not as passionate as I am so here it goes. For those of you who don’t care about this game I can’t imagine you’ll understand what I’m talking about, and won’t be offended if you leave this page. With that said, here we go.
My rating for Halo 4: 3 out of 5.
In 2007, Bungie created what is considered one of my favorite games of all time; Halo 3. Halo 3 is one of the few games that I could turn on and lose track of the time and how much I spent playing it. Call of Duty came out a little later, but I still remained stuck on Halo, and when people asked me why I loved Halo so much compared to Call of Duty here were my reasons.
1. Everyone is the same. In Halo multiplayer, every person was the same Spartan. We all looked the same, we all moved the same, and we all started with the same weapons. You never wasted time making your spartan look like a unicorn or anything like that. You never had to creep around every corner hoping that there wasn’t an enemy who had chosen a sniper rifle or shotgun for his primary weapon, and was just waiting for your body to move into his crosshairs; which brings me to my next point.
2. Weapon placement on maps. Unlike Call of Duty, Halo’s matchmaking gameplay was all about map control for power weapon spawns. At the start of every game you carefully planned out with your teammates which power weapon you were going to go for whether it was the rocket launcher or sniper rifle. This helped reduce the amount of players that just sat around corners waiting for you to run by (more popularly known as camping).
3. A trueskill ranking system. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a ranking system that ranks you on your performance, most directly wins and losses. If you or your team wins, your rank goes higher. If you or your team loses your ranking drops. Halo mastered this ranking system by having a scale of 1-50. If you wanted to test your skill and strive to improve you could play the competitive games with your ranking placed next to your name, and then you would face off against players with similar rankings. If you decided you just wanted to screw around with friends you could play a more social type of playlist just for fun.
343 industries took over the Halo franchise from Bungie, and embarked on a risky journey to continue the franchise, but in my opinion they have not lived up to the hype. Before I get into the negatives I just want to explain that at times I still enjoy playing Halo 4. I love all of the new weapons in the game. Besides the overpowered DMR and boltshot, I feel like all of the new weapons bring an innovative and exciting feel to the game. The sounds of the guns are all amazing too, and for that I applaud 343.
I feel like Halo 4 has a lot of great aspects to it, but it is just shrouded by the amount of crap that continues to happen in this game. Halo 4 took what I loved about Halo and completely destroyed it. 343 introduced loadouts (or classes as referred to by Call of Duty) where players can pick primary and secondary weapons as well as packages (or perks as referred to by Call of Duty) to help differentiate different spartans. Now every time I play I have to worry about the player with a pocket shotgun (boltshot) around a corner and the enemy with the mini sniper rifle (DMR) all the way on the other side of the map. They didn’t earn these weapons, but are able to choose them as part of their loadout.
Not only did 343 make every spartan different, but there are no longer weapons on the map. At the beginning of every game there is a spawn of power weapons, but after the initial fight, the power weapons come at random stages and in random locations. The only way you can get other weapons is by picking them up off of dead bodies, but you must do so within 10 seconds of the spartan dying, otherwise they will disappear. There have been numerous times I’ve had to run around with no ammo hoping that my teammate will die soon so I could pick up his ammo. 343 also decided to institute personal ordnance drops (or killstreaks as referred to by Call of Duty) that delivers power weapons to one’s feet. No longer are you fighting for power weapons with predictable respawns on maps, but instead you’re being hunted down by three or four snipers at once. This has consequently dumbed down the innovative and creative map design. I have yet to fall in love with any of the maps from Halo 4 as I did in Halo 3.
343 also geared their game towards Call of Duty when they introduced instant respawning into Halo. Before you had to wait at least five seconds before you could return to the battle, but now you can respawn instantly and to me it has greatly butchered the flow of the game for numerous reasons. Not to be cheesy, but having the respawn at 5 seconds really made you think about how you died. It made you try harder not to die again whereas Halo 4 there is no penalty for dying other than giving the other team points, and no one really cares about that, because no one plays as a team in Halo 4 anymore. It also gave the game longer to pick a better respawn location. I can't count the number of times that I've been killed, I hit X to respawn, and the guy who just killed me is already in my sights. I stick a couple of pistol shots in his head, and then just laugh at how broken it is. It makes it hard to push or make any sort of movement in objective games, because they're able to respawn right next to the objective after you slay them. This is one of the biggest beefs I have with the game.
The last thing 343 did to hurt the reputation of Halo 4 is not instituting a trueskill ranking system. Instead you rank higher and higher just by playing the game and completing challenges. There are thousands of players already at the highest level of player, and can no longer advance their ranking. 343 has invoked an “everybody wins” attitude, and it’s upsetting a lot of the competitive Halo players out there. Without any competitive playlists, games become very unbalanced and not fun to play.
I will continue to play this game because of my devout loyalty to it. 343 has announced a title update that will be coming at the end of February where they will hopefully make some modifications to the game. Unfortunately I feel that they won’t make the necessary ones required to bring back the competitive feel of Halo. I’ve kept telling myself not to, but I may soon dust off the old Halo 3 disc, and return to the glory days of my favorite online game.