Halo 4: The First Halo Game I Won’t Be Buying

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Ever since this year’s E3 I’ve been nursing an almost pathological ennui about “Halo 4.” As the rest of the world seems to be getting swept into the excitement of it, I remain distant and detached. Destructoid did this piece that is supposed to make you, like, get excited for this thing, and I poured through every word of it looking for the secret juice that would ignite such a reaction in my heart. Alas, twas not there.

My problem is that all the changes feel incremental and unsatisfying. Forge is getting some nice tweaks and improvements, but most of them feel like things that could have easily been in a DLC package. The Infinity multiplayer suite is a cool way to conceptualize MP, but the more I look at it the more it feels like different wrapping on the same present. And if you’re going to rip off “Call of Duty’s” Spec Ops missions, 343, at least trouble yourself to come up with a name more unique than “Spartan Ops.” It’s like you want me to know you’re not trying. The best thing I can say about “Halo 4″ is that it definitely looks new, and I guess that’s something.

I’m just not sure what “Halo 4″ is. What defines this game? “Halo” of course was the original, “Halo 2″ pioneered Xbox Live, “Halo 3″ introduced the Forge and the Theater and 4-player co-op (among many other things), “ODST” innovated in the story department and introduced Firefight, and “Reach” perfected all that had come before it and introduced Armor Abilities, Invasion, and others. Look at that legacy: each game is a bold new step, an unmistakable gamble of game engineering that simultaneously remains true to the heart of the franchise. Compared to that, what does “Halo 4″ offer? What will this game be known for? Orange, glowy guys I can shoot? Slightly better graphics? Meh.

What frustrates me is how few people seem to be willing to acknowledge the fact that “Halo 4″ is shaping up to be more of the same. It feels like we in the gaming community have lowered our standards, accepted our fate, and stand ready to hand them $60 just for troubling to put Master Chief on the box. I say this isn’t good enough. “Halo” as a franchise earned my love and respect—even when it was imperfect—because it never stopped trying to innovate and expand, and so far what I’m seeing doesn’t fit with that pattern. “Halo 4″ is looking more and more like the first game in the franchise I won’t be buying.

_AA

you’ll have to imagine the fire

  • http://www.facebook.com/reddybrek Adam Meadows

    Have you played any of the builds? And I’m willing to be money on the fact that you will buy it. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      …How much money, Adam? 

      • sebson

        what does it matter??  it’s not as if you’re actually going to admit that you bought the game.  

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

          Wrong. Go through my posts on this site. I admit when I’m wrong even when no one would ever find out. I came clean about buying “Deus Ex: Human Revolution” after trashing it at E3. I also admitted to loving “Ghost Recon: Future Soldier” after spending almost two years saying I didn’t think it had potential. 

          Here’s the links: 
          http://padinga.com/2011/08/23/talking-to-games-deus-ex-human-revolution/

          http://padinga.com/2012/05/29/you-must-buy-gr-future-soldier-now/

          • BreakmanX

            We’re about speaking COMPLETELY honestly.  Sometimes that means your opinions change as new information becomes available.  The ability to swallow your ego and say that your opinion has changed is a wonderful quality and one I’m glad that Andrew has.

            Just know that when we say something it is exactly how we are feeling that that point.  Disagree if you will, we encourage it, but at least know that we are unfiltered.

          • sebson

            Naw, you’ll probably just secretly buy the game, enjoy it, won’t tell us about it or won’t admit to purchasing it, and move on.  

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

            My gamertag is LawsofTaking. Feel free to look it up and watch the Achievements when the time comes around. If you see me playing the game and I haven’t admitted it on this site, you’ll have me by the balls. 

  • MyBodyIsReady

    Same shit since halo 3…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1271905140 Jerome Antwi

    Yeah, you can add lighting with Dlc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003788678076 Justin Dalton

    Copying spec ops? i wasn’t aware spec ops was essential to the shitty cod story, had full cutscenes every week and new levels FREE EVERY WEEK, and playable with 4 characters

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      (shrug) New levels every week is cool in theory, but I have serious doubts about good those missions are going to be/if they really will come out on the promised schedule. And even if they do, I’m not looking to play MORE of the same campaign I’ve been plowing through since the original Xbox. 

      And I still maintain Spartan Ops is very deliberately pulled from CoD. 

      • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

        Well the missions won’t even be similar to the campaign :P It will explain the backgrounds of the campaign that will explain how some things happen. Also professionals like 343 don’t fuck up a schedule, no way would one be late. All this campaign stuff is going to be the most original content, no more covenent, no more of the flood. It will be more original then its predecessor.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

          Different story does not different gameplay make. And your “professionals like 343″ argument is kinda odd considering you’re describing a company that’s never released a single game. Plenty of very good game companies have botched DLC, and very few have ever undertaken a payload of this magnitude. I don’t think we can just say “they got it in the bag” on blind faith. 

          • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

            Well if you don’t think so, 343 made Halo Reach, and how many glitches were in that game? No many, non that I ever found, a company that puts that much effort into one game, won’t let an even bigger game in there name fail.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

            343 did not make Halo: Reach, Bungie did. Even the people who worked for Bungie who now work for 343 were working for Bungie when they made Reach. Remember that day when Bungie officially transferred maintaining the servers to 343? Why would they do that if 343 had made the game all along?

            Yes, many of the 343 staff are Halo vets, and that does mean something. But most new game studios have their share of vets in them, it doesn’t mean they don’t have to prove themselves the same as everyone else. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/dominic.bobbett Dominic Bobbett

            While different story line does not make for different game play, why does this game in itself has to redefine everything Halo is? If Xbox Live had existed in the time of Halo: Combat Evolved, would Halo 2 been as good? or as notable? Food for thought.

      • Connor Dragt

        it is true tht it has some aspects, like making your own loadouts just for u, and spartan ops and all tht, but i find it better than tht shitty cod. cod has horrible respawns, its unrealistic, and cod sucks compared to halo. and u said what IS halo 4? its the story of the forerunners. if you play it, you would know what it is.

  • Robert Weinmann

    all the worries you have for Halo 4, I had for Reach.  It was a good game sure, but it still wasn’t “perfected” in any way.  In my opinion Halo 3 got closest to perfection.  After Halo 3 was released, we weren’t ready for a Halo 4, so the franchise took another direction with ODST and Reach.  They were successful ventures but now Halo can come back to what it knows so well with the knowledge it has gained, and it can return to the arcade-style superhuman Halo we all know and love (which I feel was strongly lost in Reach.)  Halo:CE found the gold, Halo 2 discovered the franchise’s power, Halo 3 was more successful than it planned for (forge was never meant to build whole maps), Reach and ODST were NOT sequels, they were adventures and experiments, and now Halo 4 will be the return home, the culmination of all they have learned.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      You make some interesting points. I definitely feel you that Reach was not perfect, but for me, it was the closest the franchise came to perfection. I loved Halo 3 as well, but I did think the ranking system in matchmaking was overly punishing for normal human beings, and there were a lot of game modes the community came up with that DOMINATED my play time (like Infected, which they put in for Reach) which Halo 3 reacted a little slowly to.

      I hear you that ODST wasn’t a full sequel, but considering that Reach dramatically altered the gameplay with the addition of armor abilities, don’t you think maybe Reach deserves to be thought of as a true sequel? 

      • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

        I am going to have to agree with the other guy I do not believe that Reach was not a sequel, The main fact being is that you saw spartans die, it seemed nothing like Halo because in every previous games spartans were complete untouchable Bad-asses… And we will see the return of this in Halo 4.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

          Spartans dying was a necessary part of the entire set up of the original “Halo,” so I don’t agree there. If Spartans, as you seem to suggest, cannot die, then why is Master Chief the last one? That’s kinda like saying Panda Bears are unkillable. 

          • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

            :/ Not really my point, in the original Halo did you ever see a spartan die? It made the players think that it took entire armies to kill them because Master Chief was able o take on armies himself. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

            I see your point. I still kinda disagree since I spent the entire game actively aware that Spartans not only COULD die, but HAD in such massive amounts that Chief was all that was left.

            Still, you are right, you never see it in the game. Fair point. Does that really disqualify something from being Halo single-handedly? Seems a bit much. 

          • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

            Well from my understanding of the game there were very FEW spartans, and for the last one to be praised as highly as he was, it made it seem like they were Gods, which was an awesome thing. Now they are finishing out there series, the last Halo game, where you get to play as the God who almost single handedly took out the flood and covenent. And yet you have a new enemy, and it even more complex story where Cortana her self is dieing. I just think that an original story where you get to play as a memorable Bad-ass is defiantly worth buying. Now I can see your points in the multi-player. But from my perspective I see a Bad-ass series ending game, that comes with its amazing, original multi-player all in one. Now I can see your point in an uninteresting crap spartan ops, But it adds a new Co-op that would be fun to play with your friends, and if your telling me that you don’t have any friends to play it with, I can see why it would be un-fun. But playing any game with your friends is fun, so just for this add on to the game I would get it because I have several friends I would play this with.

          • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

            Also who cares if it is a rip off? Games rip off other games all the time, it was only a matter of time, and if they do it right it becomes better then the thing it ripped off, and it won’t be hard to make it better then spec-ops..

          • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.wallace.963434 Jonathan Wallace

            Note: I assume you have not read the fiction.

            Spartans II’s were not high in numbers, out of the 300 original candidates, only 33ish made it to become full fledged spartans, most of those dying on reach.  Also technically in the books there are 3 spartan 2′s that are still alive….wont say more b/c possible spoilers, but Glasslands is pretty much the set up of Halo 4.  Spartan 3′s which are pretty much the store band spartans die all the time, they are made and sent on suicide missions that real spartans are to valuable to go on, (all of noble team except Jorge where 3′s). Personally, Reach was the worst game in the entire series story wise. SO much canon that was already established and carried throughout the books was destroyed during the reach campaign, i don’t know how they can pull back together without ejecting something.

          • http://www.facebook.com/rhodri.symonds Rhodri Symonds

            yeah there were only 75 spartan 2′s and yes half that number died in augmentation but 33 spartans kicked ass and took names. the spartan 3′s got there asses kicked because they wernt armored proberly and the spartan 2′s didnt have enough candidates or funding to make more . Reach is a great game and exept for in a few little parts its canon is fine

          • cyoung8286

            Except Master chief isn’t the last Spartan :/. If you read the books, you would know that a spartan named Kelly was kidnapped from Reach by Dr. Halsey and taken to a mysterious Forerunner planet called Onyx Also Master chief is so strong and powerful because he has the smartest artificial intelligence the UNSC has ever created inside of him.Without Cortana, Master chief probably wouldn’t have gotten very far.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.wallace.963434 Jonathan Wallace

        Personally I feel that I don’t need an entirely new game element to make the game fresh for me. I don’t care if they steal game modes (firefight (in the past), spartan ops (yes the name is depressing), or anything else that was in a previous games. Real fans aren’t gonna play halo 4 just for the multiplayer, with campaign plus spartan ops keep the story elements that everyone love, new fun plus it increases the longevity of the game.  You don’t have to have one major encompassing change to have a wow factor, the “little”  from the customization of classes, to new weapons (which aren’t fully announced yet), to new game modes (regicide), and more. I think that is much better then the upgraded equipment that became armor abilities, and what “customization” reach had with loadouts. Hell even forge technically wasn’t even original if you consider Bungie’s Marathon had Forge & Anvil….they didn’t even change the name….

  • Theotherguyoverhere

    This guy has the exact opposite opinion as you, haha: http://geekparty.com/e3-got-me-excited-for-halo-4-despite-myself/ 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      You know a lot of people on the staff here feel that way, too. I just don’t get it personally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.zecos Alex Zecos

    Please don’t, 1 less n00b on my team is a win. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      Good to know you’ve already filled the n00b spot on your team. 

  • http://twitter.com/CameronSundene Cameron Sundene

    Well I understand what you mean, but Halo 4 is not about the multi-player! It is all campaign. People are so excited, as am I, by the fact that you get to continue as a complete Bad-ass who has a whole new set of enemies. I am sure the story line will be amazing. I will bet thousands of dollars I don’t have that this game will not disappoint me. And as an add-on you get the awesome multi-player you have like in the previous game! And I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to custom classes. That is a big part I did not see you mention, and Halo 4 will probably be recognized for that alone. I hope you change your mind about this because it will be one Bad-ass game!

  • sebson

    lol, i think you’re confusing call of duty with halo.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/dustin.hall1 Dustin Hall

    I’m there with ya, AA, this is the 4th Halo game I won’t be buying. :p

  • http://www.facebook.com/PaulEBurgess Paul Burgess

    halo suxxxxxxxx   wah wah wah   sawll bawt tha mooonaeh$$$!!! yo i luvz u aa.   Please consider, the potential of a progressive storyline, which can infrequently make a game.   But really, if the dynamic of gameplay sticks with the previous ones (e.g. twilight princess), i’d expect a sort of glazed enthusiasm for the potentially interesting storyline, if in fact that is why you play halo…   I don’t know how not to read like a sad pessimist by saying this but, campaign on consoles, yes even halo, is nearly dead.  (reference/shutter any FPS that doesn’t feature single console co-op and instead charges $ to play with ppl you don’t even know)   Its like goldeneye didn’t even exist! If people can’t pwnzorz some n00bzorz on XBL or PSN then the majority doesn’t buy the game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/STiGMaPHOBiA Sean Rivera

    It seems as if most Halo fans are just praying it’s as good as the previous installments; considering the developer shift. Personally this is the first Halo game that’s actually managed to make the campaign excite me, mostly because the Prometheans have obvious Metroid Prime influences, and secondly the story is looking to have a lot more personal depth, which is definitely new territory for Halo. ODST dabbled in it, but it turned out rather dull and was another frustrating victim of the uncanny valley. I don’t know, really, on a really base level I know I’m going to buy it just because it’s a new Halo game. So kudos to you for being a thinking consumer, but I really hope you’re wrong.

  • PolPatsPal

    Andrew:

    Do you think the story arc will be like the first one where the enemy is introduced and Chief holds them off so in the second one the enemy will have a rift amongst the ranks, and so on?  If so, I will be joining you, but until then I feel like the brand of Halo has just persuaded me that the story will rebound and provide the awesome plot that Halo: Combat Evolved provided.  Also, the franchise just a system that is pretty easy for newcomers to the genre compared to the Call of Duty, Unreal, and Battlefield platforms, and I connect with that mechanical part of Halo.  One last thought, I though Firefight and Spec Ops were pulled from Horde Mode and Gears of War 2. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Allen/7605503 Andrew Allen

      Firefight was definitely pulled from Gears, you’re right about that. And I suppose you could argue it was derivative, but as a die-hard Horde fan, when I played Firefight I thought the gameplay differentiated itself sufficiently, what with vehicular combat, skulls, the various modes (who can forget Rocketfight?), and etc.  

      But Spec Ops’ closest cousin is very clearly Spartan Ops. Now I grant that this new episodes every week song and dance MIGHT turn out to be really cool, and if it did, then perhaps I’d be wrong to dismiss it. But the similarity of the names just rubs me wrong. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/justin.j.hur.9 Justin J Hur

    Apparently this guy dont know much of Halo. Spartan Ops and Spec Ops are two different things. Spartan Ops is 4 player side-story of the Halo series, with objectives. It will be an actual story, unlike Spec Ops. At RTX, they only showed a glimpse of what forge can do, and no one else other than employees knows how much forge improved. And what will Halo 4 bring? I dont know, maybe a story that will be continued, and that ALL of the Halo books have been leading up to this trilogy? If Reach perfected everything the past Halo games had, then why not continue with doing those things.

  • mortarus

    For those who asked why the fuck does spartans died in Reach while Master Chief powned for 3 games without any serious injury => The answer is in the fiction. He was chosen by Doctor Halsey (The scientist in Reach that gives you Cortana) for only one thing : He’s lucky. It’s almost the only thing he has more then other spartans. That and the fact that he’s a good leader. His Luck stat is like over 9000.

    • cyoung8286

      Dr. Halsey: Cortana, what is his Luck Stat?

      Cortana: ITS OVER 9000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jammin

    At least the storyline will be great, even if MP sucks, Halo is all about the Campaign, so buy Halo 4 for the campaign!

  • ludvig

    I Don’t thinke you have paid much attantion… for starters, Spartan ops is a story, where every week, you get deeper and deeper into Halo 4 story… if you call halo 4 a copying of Call of Duty, well sir, then you have failed on life….

  • Ozzie

    Play it. I think you have made excellent points. When I saw the new armor my thought was, ” oh no copy cat helmets?! ” but after playing the game in sold. This is the best way I can put it. Last year Motortrend held their car of the year caomparison. It inculded the lamborghini aventador with 600+ hp and a 200 hp subaru named the brz. There was also 7 other cars. The lambo placed last because its whole experience between car and driver was literally the worst. The brz placed fourth, over 2 cars that cost over 100k. The brz only cost around 20k. The brz simple related to the drivers better. In response and feel and confidence and all those intangibles. Halo 4 does the same. On paper it looks very week but once your in the driver’s seet its a blast!! I’m with ign, this should could and better be the game of the year.