Leading up to PAX, there were a few games I had written down as must-plays. Among them were Gears of War Judgement, Dishonored, and at the top of the list: Halo 4. Ever since I got an Xbox for the release of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts-N-Bolts, I’ve always been a huge Halo fan, and according to game-tracking service Raptr, I’ve sunk a combined total of 673 hours into Halo: Reach, ODST, and 3.
Like I said, I like Halo.
As I began my Sunday, my only plan was “play Halo at any and all costs.” I trotted up to the Halo 4 booth and was thrown into a game within minutes. Let me just start out by saying this about Halo 4: it does not disappoint. In the ten minutes I had to experience it, I had an absolute blast. I started the newly unveiled CTF gamemode with a load out containing the DMR, a pulse grenade, and what I believe was a Promethean pistol; a small forerunner gun that looked strikingly like the plasma pistol. As the game started I found the first of many changes: the announcer spoke more fast and frantic, in a more commanding way – and I like it. The game started and a teammate began driving me in the turret of the warthog. I noticed that the gun now had reticule bloom, something that struck me as odd but ultimately made sense. We also died rather quickly and I’m not even sure if I got any kills with it – we were severely outmatched.
The controls in 4 were slightly different from there reach brethren, as every Spartan now has sprint and an armor ability, which mine was a thruster pack that I wasn’t quite sure how to use. Throughout the rather short match I experimented with the original load out as well as my personal favorite vehicle – the Ghost. The Ghost felt a bit slower than it previously had, and it definitely seemed less overpowered in both its splattering abilities and its plasma guns – not that that stopped me from getting a few kills with it.
After spending that short of a time with Halo 4, it definitely feels fresh and like a positive twist on Halo - not as much of a pure-reskin as Gears of War: Judgement. While I originally doubted 343 and hated them for taking Halo from Bungie, I now welcome this change whole-heartedly and look forward to a great future of Halo.