The game starts off with the most beautiful CG cut scene I have ever seen from any game. Hell, there are a number of actual movies that have nothing on what they have done. I thought it was an actual actor until the camera zooms out and you realize none if what you are seeing is real. The amount of detail out into this was just mind blowing. From the perfect lighting, to the environment, to the intensity of the scene was just a perfect mixture for the start of a great story.
Since this is an all new game developed by a newly created subsidiary of Microsoft (343 Industries) we’ve had some redesigns. Starting the campaign, we first see Cortana, basically the same wonderful AI she was from halos past, but with a few subtle differences. Her face is completely new, much more human. Cortana has always been a beautiful blue hologram but now she looks as if she was modeled after a particular person rather than a stock image of some hot young thing. with that, she just seems much more human to me. The chief is of course still hulking and as glorious as ever. His changes were for the best, helmet, armor, maybe even size, though still remaining that selfless spartan we all know and love. Don’t you worry though, Both the chief and Cortana are voiced by the wonderful Steve Downes and Jen Taylor.
The year is 2557. Floating in deep space on the wreckage that was once a huge ship known as “Forward unto Dawn”, we see Cortana waking the chief after quite a long cryo-sleep. She tells you that she is getting signals that Covenant are boarding and invading your vessel, which now starts you off into the battle. You encounter the same enemies you would in the past, Elites, grunts,pesky sniper jackals, and course hunters. You find various familiar weapons scattered about as well as some new but similar ones,which you should definitely grab asap, because the assault rifle you are always equipped with is just horrible. I’m not sure if it has gotten weaker since previous games, but seriously, lose that for just about anything else. The controls are similar to prior Halo games, which takes a while to get used to if you are reentering the spartan world, so I recommend changing the layout to “fishstick” It’s your basic FPS spread that most titles use.
So after battling your way off of the ship, you find yourself in Forrunner territory. If you are unfamiliar with that a forrunner is, it’s the alien race that created the rings of Halo as a weapon to wipe out sentient beings. Kind of a big deal. The planet you are going to be playing the campaign mostly on is called Requiem and it is jaw droppingly stunning. Please, take the time to admire your environments, because the work put into these settings are beyond tedious. Along with fighting Covenent, we are introduced to a new breed of enemy know as Promethian knights. With the new species comes their own kind of weapons which thankfully, you can pick up and use against them. with a smooth mixture of new and old enemies, they game definitely gets challenging. After a few levels of heavy gunfire, we get to meet an all new antagonist known as the Diadect. A very big and terrifying Promethian you get tricked into freeing. From then on you are fighting your way on and around Requiem, trying to save humanity once again, meanwhile, Cortana drops a bombshell on you. Her life as an AI is coming to and end and her mind is slowly deteriorating as she becomes a rampant being.
Overall, the game play was pretty standard in terms of Halo. You still have the option to turn on skulls if you so desire, and the difficulty levels are still the same as always with Legendary being just brutal. The AI are so responsive and mechanically correct, that sometimes missions seemed hopeless. So when you finally did get past what seemed was an impossible situation to get out of, it was just that much more rewarding. The story was fun and creative, however, I did get lost in what was happening a few times. A HUGE issue I had was the music. The chanting and just overall epic melodies that we’ve all gotten hope from in the darkest hours, has been reduced to subtle unrecognizable tunes. More than once I found myself wondering how they could change the soundtrack so drastically, and not for the better. So if you are a longtime committed fan of the franchise, or just someone looking for something new, play this game. It’s beauty and heroic game play are not something to pass up.
The War Room:
Newly introduced to the game is the war room. The war room is on the massive ship called the Infinity, which is where all of the multi player “training courses” take place. From here, we have the same game types we know and love such as slayer, CTF, team battle, and so on. The point system has changed a little bit, but it’s not much different from prior games. Everyone is equipped with a primary and secondary weapon, with a specialization which can include a hologram, jet pack, or active camo, as well as a grenade type.
So far we start off with 10 all new maps and 3 maps you can use while in the forge. While 9 new map packs have been said to release, only 8 are confirmed. Each map is of course stunning, and actually have many layers to each.
The ranking system has changed, in that you have levels rather than titles. Well from what I’ve seen. In reach, you were able to customize different armor and helmets with CC points, in this while you can still customize, the options are just unlocked as you gain higher levels. A few changes have been made to this new installment of Halo, but none are seriously drastic. My only real complaint is that I don’t have that memorable voice yelling things like “killtacular” and “running-riot” at me anymore. Not for lack of skill I might add! That fun little feature just doesn’t exist anymore. Oh, and that for all of the games, my emblem has been the same kiss mark with a heart around it. This was not an option, so I had to settle for the cat head emblem. Which I had to unlock. Sad day indeed ! Other than that… It’s still extremely fun and throwing in a few new features, makes it that much better.
Well, Back to the battlefield I go, see you all there!