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5 Reasons Why Halo 4 Demands Your Attention This Holiday Season

Posted on Sunday, September 23 @ 09:35:00 PST by Alex_Osborn

After having taken the time to speak with fellow gamers on what titles they're most excited for this year, I'm baffled by how rarely Halo 4 is mentioned. I hear titles like Assassin's Creed IIIBorderlands 2, and even Dishonored, but surprisingly enough, 343 Industries' triple-A shooter hardly ever comes up. Does it have to do with the fact that Bungie's no longer at the helm? Are people really that tired of the franchise? Shouldn't that complaint be more appropriate for Call of Duty which has taken over the first-person shooter space? Whatever the reason, Master Chief's upcoming outing simply cannot be ignored. Why, you ask? I've got five compelling reasons to sway you.

5. Spartan Ops

Episodic gaming has been tried on a number of occasions, but has yet to really stick. Halo 4's Spartan Ops is set to buck that trend with ongoing support weeks after its release. Not only does the regular addition of downloadable missions on a consistent basis add value to the overall experience—they're completely free by the way—but they also expand the story by expounding upon the events that transpired during the main campaign. No other game has committed to so much content—a whopping 10 weeks worth following the game's release, with a new episode each week.

4. Passionate And Fully Capable Fresh Blood

When Bungie announced that they'd be leaving Microsoft and the Halo franchise, many were quick to write off the series right then and there. I'll admit, I was skeptical when I first heard that a brand-new internal studio at Microsoft would be taking the reigns from here on out. However, the minute I saw their passion and commitment to the universe (not just the games, but the community and the lore), I knew that their first Halo title would be something special.

If you've seen any of the interviews or panels with the team, there's no doubt that Frank O'Connor and Kiki Wolfkill are 100% in tune with the Halo universe and its fans. More important is that they are wholeheartedly dedicated to breathing new life into this franchise. When Reach rolled out, many felt the series was growing a bit stale. There's no doubt in my mind that 343i is just what the franchise needed.

3. Deeper Focus On Series' Lore

Up until this point, the Halo games haven't particularly excelled on a storytelling front. The novels have done a great job at fleshing out the universe and its characters, but none of the games have managed to tell a truly captivating story. That, however, doesn't mean the prior entries haven't nailed the atmosphere. Halo: Combat Evolved laid the fundamental groundwork for the entire universe and all of the lore. I'll never forget the first time explored one of the rings' surface.

I just wish that Bungie would have pulled more from the evolving lore as the series progressed. 343i has already stated that they are aiming to do that with this new trilogy. In doing so, we'll get to see a more human side of the Chief, something the series has been lacking for quite some time. There's a deep and gripping story behind the helmeted hero—I don't know about you, but I'm dying to know more.

2. It Looks Freakin' Gorgeous

While each installment has looked good and provided a noticeable visual improvement upon its predecessor, the Halo games haven't wowed us with their graphics in quite some time. Despite being the first title on the Xbox 360, Halo 3 didn't provide the jaw-dropping visuals everyone was expecting. Don't get me wrong, the game looked great, but compared to a title like Gears of War, it was a bit disappointing.

Halo 4 changes that and will likely go down in history as one of the best-looking Xbox 360 games of all time. 343i is squeezing as much as they possibly can out of the hardware, and boy, does it show. Master Chief's armor is far more detailed, Cortana looks like a completely new character, and the new enemies are downright amazing from both a technical and artistic perspective. When I first saw the Prometheans and the environment of Requiem I immediately thought of Metroid Prime, which is far from a bad thing. I also can't fail to mention the visual improvement on characters' faces. This has always been a weakspot for the franchise, but thanks to some excellent animation work, they look incredibly lifelike.

1. Multiplayer Is Beefier And Better Than Ever

I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up the game's competitive multiplayer, which has undoubtedly been the bread and butter of the franchise ever since Combat Evolved. Obviously, Halo has a very specific formula that gamers have grown to love and tinkering with that is incredibly dangerous, as a developer is bound to piss off players no matter what you do.

While 343i has made it clear that they've made it a priority to maintain of the core identity of the series, they haven't shied away from adding new features into the mix. From new armor abilities, customizable loadouts, instant respawns, and so much more, Halo 4's multiplayer is taking the best from modern-day shooters and layering it atop the core Halo experience. Many professional competitive gamers who have spent some quality time with the multiplayer have attested to the fact that the experience has evolved considerably, and ultimately for the better.

So there you have it. Have I managed to get you hyped for Halo 4, or are you convinced I'm just some raving Master Chief fanboy that needs to be silenced? Sound off with your thoughts in the comments below.
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