I have started Halo 4 desperately wanting to love the 343 Industries-developed title and after about one and a half hours of game time, I was pretty sure that I would end up disappointed with the game; it was all my fault and I should have known better.
I hate it when games I grew up with fail to adapt to the modern world and Halo 4 was giving out that feeling during its first few chapters, with its clichéd story elements and its incredibly familiar gameplay mechanics.
The wake-up sequence for Master Chief (no spoilers here, this is the actual start of the game) is a good example of how the game is awesome in a very early ‘2000’s kind of way.
A scanner goes through the destroyed Forward Unto Dawn and Cortana, the Artificial Intelligence of the series, decides to wake up the main character after more than four years of stasis in order to investigate and combat the coming threat.
I had flashbacks to System Shock 2, which did something similar but with much more tension and much better pacing.
Halo 4 fails to make the early game interesting in any way: the combat has no innovations to unveil, the exploration is tied to quick movement but lacks any openness, the story seems to be threading ground that’s already been covered by the series a number of times.
Yes, there’s quality in the actual first-person shooter action, the Covenant enemies are smart, the ships and enemies are beautiful, but that’s no longer enough to sustain a modern game, especially one that launches one week from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
The saving grace for Halo 4 is that the uninspiring opening starts building towards something more interesting and that the past of the franchise is powerful enough to keep gamers interested until the game finds its voice.