Can’t Stop: Halo 4

The Can’t Stop Segment is my personal look into my current gaming addiction. Voiding any objectivity, I explain whatever my gaming central is and why.

No Multiplayer has grabbed and never let me go since COD: Modern Warfare 2. Yes, it has been that long since I was addicted to any kind of multiplayer. Halo 4’s Every detail from the updated radar to personal loadouts has changed the gameplay enough to make it original without changing what is Halo. The added game types each week along with an engaging Spartan Ops keeps players and me, coming back for more no matter how much I can still be shown there is always a bigger fish with a bigger gun.

Multiplayer added balance to each warrior with loadouts for players to strategize their attack. Each primary and secondary weapons feel balanced, yet might fire faster with less accuracy or have more range but less ammo and fire rate. It ends the dreadful Spartan charge at each other to see who got the most headshots with the Battle Rifle, which Halo 3 multiplayer became. The radar has quick glance understanding potential instead of being a cypher to read. Glad 343 studios finally added vehicle images to the radar.

Added gametpes spawn new fans of old genres to Halo4, allowing all of us to enjoy the basics before divulging in our more specified favorites. They need to hurry up and unveil the Objective Big Team Battle gametype. Update: Multiplayer has now released the first DLC release date. Three maps are to be added on December 10.

Loadouts personalize your spawned spartan by choosing a primary and secondary weapon, along with a support upgrade, armor ability and class-style upgrade. Loadouts also carry over between Multiplayer and Spartans. Build your Ultimate Spartan for any situation.

Spartan Ops is my new DLC addiction. It releases one episode a week, consisting of five missions, giving me something new to come back to each week. Five special challenges that are not as easy as the campaign. A challenge for single player or in a group along with difficulty changes provides outstanding replay value. It might use the same maps from multiplayer or part of the campaign, but it’s best to have home-field advantage because even on heroic these enemies aren’t push-overs. I personally feel Spartan Ops is the most efficiently innovative product since Gears of War’s Horde mode and before that the COD: World at War Zombies and the creation of matchmaking for Halo 2. (Okay maybe not as big as the last one.)

Don’t believe me? Play Spartan Ops Episode 3 Mission 4. Heavy Weapons, Heavy Vehicles Galore… and that is just 1 out of 50 missions totaling 10 episodes. They have already sold me on future DLC Seasons.

Changes? – Hopefully 343 Studios adds skulls or penalties for death to create an even harder challenge and an even greater replay value. As they release more seasons, I would like to see how they plan to improve upon their original idea.

Halo 4 Review

 

From a new Halo developer come new enemies, a new planet and new issues. 343 Studios takes the Halo reigns from Bungie for a new trilogy, but will it be approved from diehard Halo fans and multiplayer junkies? 343 walks a thin line by expanded the genre while holding true to the Halo core. It adds detail to each game aspect from sounds and visuals to plot and gameplay for a strong first step into the next Halo saga.

Halo 4 begins almost five years since Halo 3 and plenty has changed while Chief has been napping. Character depth became an apparent goal for 343 studios with John and Cortana. Master Chief peaked in Halo 3 saving humanity, but everyone has moved on from those times. The Chief is no longer immortalized. He is just another solider being put in his place early into the game. Cortana is having rampancy issues, as all AI do after seven years leading to their deletion. Each has their own issue to resolve, despite needing to save the world from a new threat. The duo of brains and brawn show a closer side for one another beyond just death defying relationship during war. These two are not alone in their endeavors, encountering new friends along with their new enemies.

After finding out whom he is in the viral video series “Forward Unto Dawn,” Tom Lasky takes baby steps into the virtual spot light to become a strong character for the Halo series. He looks to form a replacement to his outdated commanding officers from the first trilogy. For looming threat ahead, Lasky commands several other soldiers and officers for Chief to meet, like Spartan Sarah Palmer.

The theme of the man and machine relationship and man becoming machine to achieve victory is wrapped around the plot of a solid FPS standard 8-10 hours. The game creates several scenarios of action constantly being changed up among the eight lengthy levels. The new enemies, the Prometheans, are the mechanized enemy threat Spartan 117 has never faced.

The Knight in his shining armor

The Prometheans are another caste system of warriors like the Covenant. Prometheans have three units working together to create a chaotic battlefield. The foundation begins with the knight: a powerful slow moving shielded enemy willing to withstand massive amounts of firepower while dishing out his own. Much like the elite, the knight can and will go toe-to-toe with the Chief, but is rarely alone. The knight will summon another unit, the watcher, to provide support by giving extra shielding or throwing back grenades. Still everything would be the same typical strategy fighting the covenant, until the third piece of the puzzle enters: the crawler. A weak but pack oriented four-legged creature, the crawler causes chaos by surrounding and flushing Master Chief out of cover and into heavier firepower.

When it comes to firepower, Halo 4 puts fresh weapons into the hands of Spartan 117, while maintaining a familiar feel to the Halo series. Each weapon has new sound effects, making each weapon species unique and identifiable from the other.  While reloading and firing human weapons have a more mechanical vibe than forerunners advanced tech or the finesse based weaponry from the covenant. New weapons stay within the classic Halo categories, but now each category provides options. For example, the SAW feels like Halo’s basic assault rifle but it has a 100 round magazine. The forerunner beam rifle acts as the former battle rifle, while the new DMR is a short mag capacity but provides more damage.

Vehicles have a more powerful feel along with subtle changes. The classic warthog has a new look, a better grip on the ground and more muscle. The engine sounds as powerful as they come, along with devastating firepower with the upgraded gauss rifle. The new Mantis, a manned-mech with rockets and a mini-gun, can face several enemies on the field and hold its own. The tank remains the same, but the shell launches at a slower rate, while subtle visuals like the large shell casing launched out of the cannon adds a robust realism. A final note for vehicles, something rumored for almost every Halo since the original, Halo 4 puts Chief in control of a pelican.

Not every change was a good one as checkpoints. Checkpoints appear to have lost their timing. Many times after dying Chief would respawn several rooms back, because I refused to pause between sequences, allowing the game to recognize the checkpoint.

This time around multiplayer aligns itself with the story in two ways. The multiplayer, Halo fans are familiar to, remains the same as a training ground for new Spartans. The other is Spartan Ops: a four player co-op story mission that releases four episodes each week telling an entirely new story throughout 50 missions. Multiple seasons are planned, but 343 Studios was kind enough to release the first season of all 50 missions with the games release, to keep continuing the story of Halo 4.

The loadout formula has been enhanced, following the Call of Duty formula by unlocking weapons along with visual customizations. Each Spartan receives loadout points as they level up to spend on unlockables they want. Personalizing loadouts takes the reigns with a primary and secondary weapon slot, grenade slot, armor ability and a passive armor upgrade. Players can also unlock four extra loadout slots to save different strategies and preferences. These work the same for Spartan Ops, giving players the chance to build their ultimate spartan.

Multiplayer, now called War Games, keeps the majority of game type variance from past Halos with a few extras like Regicide and Flood, while removing objective big team battle. Flood is this games zombie mode, except players fight as Spartans and zombies. Regicide is free for all, but marks one player as a higher kill score. All the others remain the same except for Oddball and Capture the Flag. Oddball now added passing, and intercepting, while CTF allows your supersolider to actually multi-task with a flag in one hand and a pistol in the other.

Multiplayer gameplay has improved with weapon positioning on the map. By periodically dropping ordinance instead of assigning weapon spawns to points on the battlefield, players will stop guarding weapon spawns. Everyone can see when the random weapon spawns, because they put it on every player’s HUD. As kill streaks increase, players get their own personal ordinance with three random choices. Still the biggest enhancement is the radar. Now instead of just dots, players can see specifics, like vehicles and their neutral, opposing or friendly identifying colors.

Every multiplayer game will have its slip ups in respawn positioning, so does Halo 4. The difference this time is the minimum player requirement is too low. When a carried over game begins, the game may start two v. one and result in uneven teams even after others join.

Score: 9.75 / 10

Valhalla: Detailed Improvements Everywhere, Spartan Ops, Best Halo Graphics

Hel: Multiplayer minimums, Checkpoint issues

Here at Top Tyr each game is played through its entirety before the review process begins. The review is based on entertaining gameplay, story and innovative advancement in gaming. Intangibles and changes between sequels are also viewed.   

Top Five Games Rising from E3

# 5: Splinter Cell Blacklist

Release date: Spring 2013 (PC, 360, PS3)

The sequel to the successful Splinter Cell: Conviction was finally announced with Splinter Cell: Blacklist during this year’s E3. Sam Fisher and Ubisoft have expanded upon the mark & execute strategy from SC:C and better integrated it into gameplay with smoother action instead of the stop execute and start gameplay. Co-op is back after a beloved response from SC: Conviction’s story-connected co-op. The biggest announcement: Spies vs. Mercs is back by fan request. Every aspect from Conviction is taking a step up to entice fans for Blacklist. Tom Clancy has already added more gadgets to be detailed later, but there is silent downside. Michael Ironside, the strong and powerful voice of Sam Fisher, will not be returning.

# 4: Halo 4

Release date: 11/6/12 (360)

The first game of the next Halo trilogy has declared war on the Prometheans. This series is determined to link every gameplay aspect into the story and not just be another popular multiplayer shooter. The story shows a more in-depth attachment to the beloved duo of Master Chief and his female oriented AI, Cortana. Chief is fighting many new enemies including a possible confrontation with Cortana, herself. Multiplayer has a slim story attachment to spartan-on-spartan action, but Spartan-Ops create a newly created version of multiplayer for Halo fans. The idea is integrated from co-op, spec-ops, and weekly challenges to form four-player co-op missions. Spartan-Ops is based on a weekly episode per season, which includes missions and a video surrounding them. It gives a newly addictive reason to keep putting Halo back into the disc tray. With the story and the large fan base begging for more, Halo 4 should looks to satisfy all FPS fans.

#3: Assassin’s Creed 3

Release Date: 10/30/12 (PC, 360, PS3)

The final conclusion to the epic battle between assassins and templars reaches its climax in Assassin’s Creed 3. Soon to be released, many fans still have their doubts about the location and forest gameplay, but Ubisoft has yet to fail its fans in the series. E3 showed new game developments with multiplayer and naval battles. These battles will replace the den defense of AC: Revelations. It promises to allow players to still play as Connor by driving and potentially boarding other ships. Multiplayer has a new look with new modes. Domination was revealed and is the AC style of Call of Duty’s domination mode.

# 2: Dishonored

Release date: 10/9/12 (PC, 360, PS3)

Bethesda has displayed new gameplay at E3 raising the stock of Dishonored by the minute. They keep combining genres to push gaming to new heights. Dishonored embraces player creativity to an action RPG in every way different action RPGs have in the past and combined them into one game. Choices for story development attached to personal choice of super natural powers, like freezing time or human / animal possession, allows gamers to attack each room differently. A game designed with freedom for stealth or power styles of gameplay, having the option to kill or avoid every enemy and multiple powers to abuse and overpower every part of the environment combines for a mind-blowing game. Oh and yes, that means you can potentially avoid every enemy in the entire game. As long as the story surrounding in a unique steam-punk universe holds up, the game plans to give ultimate replay value with creative and choice freedom.

# 1. Watch Dogs

Release date: Unknown (PC, 360, PS3)

With so many sequels and safe picks for developers and their companies, Ubisoft has continued to pump out original content, peaking with Watch Dogs. The first glimpse and feel of next-gen gaming may have arrived with brilliant graphics and unique gameplay. In what looks like the near future, the protagonist is a hitman who uses elite hacker capable of controlling and tapping into seemingly every electronic device. The game premiered with no subtle CGI movie, but actual gameplay of you hunting a target. After subtle heads-up-display nuances resembling Assassin Creed and Splinter Cell gameplay, the game climaxes after causing the target to end up in a car crash caused by a hack into the street lights. Afterwards, the escape from local police shows beautiful life-like city in a downpour just before hacking into the drawbridge to complete his getaway. With a possible open-world environment and visionary gameplay we may never look at our games or real-life cities and electronics the same way again. It has also been confirmed that it will be Smartglass compatible.

Notables:

First, it appears I am not just on, but driving the Ubisoft bandwagon. I just feel after Ubisoft made their ultimatum to game developers to create new ideas they have decided to lead by example. With the AC series wrapping up they are not looking to milk the cash cow. They are the biggest third party developer for the new Wii U games leading with eight games, including ZombiU and Rayman Legends. They have consistently avoided the basic FPS and RPG with unique niches or with entirely original ideas.

As for the tech in E3, Microsoft Smartglass seems to lead the way even over the Wii U. The ability to use your tablet or smartphone to aid in controlling the 360 menus is the answer to our lack of force powers to bring the remote or controller to us without leaving the couch. It is not the big leap in tech innovation, but it is another step in linking our tech together to make life just a little easier.

The Last of Us needs to be on this list and I want it to be after the new gameplay reveal, but it looked entirely scripted. The impressive and innovative outlook from Naughtydog continues to push it up the list.