Halo 4, arguably the second largest release this year, arrived to anxious fans only yesterday. Well, we went out and got ourselves a copy and we have played through the game… now it’s time for us to give our thoughts on this absolutely huge title and what value it may hold, but more importantly, did 343 Industries do a good job after taking over from Bungie? Let’s find out…

Halo 4 brings the return of the classic Halo character, the Master Chief, an iconic member of the Halo universe. The game is part of a new trilogy of Halo games developed by 343 Industries. There was a lot of pressure on the studio to get things right… taking over from Bungie proved one difficult task. Anxious to get the formula right to keep fans happy, 343 wanted to deliver the best experience yet and rejuvenate the crumbling franchise. Well, I am delighted to say: they succeeded! Halo 4 is a stunning piece of modern video game work and delivers on all aspects, they could not have done much of a better job.

Halo 4 thrusts you right into the action from the start, with an impressive first mission already delivering action-packed combat and stunning visuals. The cutscenes throughout the game are absolutely breathtaking, especially at the very start of the game. The models are built so well, the characters look almost identical to genuine humans – it would be very easy to mistake them for actors filming a cutscene. I cannot stress enough how fantastic the visuals are, and for 343’s first major Halo entry, they have set a new standard, this is one of the best looking video games I have ever seen.

Next we will move on to sound and music. Usually, we don’t talk very much about sound in our reviews because only a few games have enough sound content to comment on, well, you guessed it, Halo 4 warrants a full review of it’s sound effects and music. The series is renowned for its exemplary soundtracks and Halo 4 is no exception. The music fits the game absolutely perfectly and each song is uniquely composed to fit the purpose for which it was assigned from the onset of development. The soundtrack is stunning and delivers one of the best gaming music soundtracks in recent memory.

However, it is not only the music which Halo 4 has achieved an exceptional standard in, but also its contemporary sound effects. Almost every sound used previously in the Halo games has been reproduced in a new form for the fourth entry into the main story arc. The sound effect system has been overhauled and time has been taken to replace old sounds with modern ones. Just another painstaking rejuvenation 343 Industries has carried out in attempt to deliver a better-than-Bungie experience to loyal Halo fans whom they do not wish to disappoint in the takeover of their beloved franchise.

Halo 4 also includes many fantastic addition modes to the jaw-dropping, revolutionary campaign (which can be played in both single player and cooperative modes). War Games is the online multiplayer component of the game and contains all the game modes you would expect from a modern day shooter; TDM, Domination, Free for All, Capture the Flag and many more standard modes are included, along with some tweaked modes you will not find in other shooters, but we will leave you to explore the game yourself without ruining too much of the package.

Also included is Spartan Ops which can be played single player of cooperatively. It is an episodic series of missions which will be released in stages to purchasers of the game. We tried out the first three missions and the mode is great; the same quality of the single player campaign and just what you would expect from 343 Industries who really have gone out of their way to keep Halo fans happy, kudos to them!

Also included is the amazing FORGE which allows you to create your own multiplayer maps. While this is not the most groundbreaking aspect of the game, it certainly is one of the more advanced editors which I have experience and you will be able to do quite a lot with this excellent additional element to this already fantastic title.

As I said, the graphics are absolutely lustrous throughout the entire of the game and this is one of the best looking video games I have ever experienced. With this comes a small sacrifice however, a slightly more constrained single player map size. This did very little to effect my playing of the single player campaign, and personally, I feel the substitution of some map size in return for these resplendent graphics is a compromise worth accepting.

Even the UI shines as a perfect example of how a user interface should function, easy to use, simplistic, beautiful to look at and not cluttered. 343 have, of course, delivered this menu and despite its simplicity, it is impeccable and cannot be faulted.

The game packs exceptional value and the campaign is worth playing several times over and over. After finishing the campaign four or five times, you can begin to look at the multiplayer mode and Spartan Ops. Overall, you should expect well over 30 hours of gameplay from Halo 4 if you plan on playing the campaign multiple times and spending some time on multiplayer and Spartan Ops.

The ten multiplayer maps included and ten Spartan Ops available to Xbox Live Gold Subscribers will certainly be welcome gifts for gamers, providing an unlimited amount of extra replayability value to major fans of the series. I must mention, Halo 4 delivers an even further improved multiplayer experience and will not disappoint. In almost every aspect, Halo 4 has delivered an exceptional experience unmatched by any games released within the last five or six years.

To wrap up the review, I will finish by stating that 343 has done a better job than original Halo developers, Bungie, and have gone above and beyond their call of duty to provide an unmatched experience. You do not want to miss this game, ensure you get a copy as soon as you can, you will NOT regret it! 343 Industries deserve a reward for the commendable title which they have delivered to gamers, I give them my regards!

Here are the final scores: