Halo 4 – First impressions (This aint your grand daddy’s Halo!)
Gamestops across the country were packed and excited. There was a good 100 guys in line (and a few gals and a bunch of mom will pre-teens in tow). Good numbers considering there was another Gamestop only a half mile away.
Seth and I both loaded our copies, only to find that we had to install Disc 2. (???) Fine for me (I installed both 1 and 2 anyway), but for Seth with his 20GB hard drive, it was annoying as he had to delete some stuff to make room.
Finally, we were ready to Roll!! Except…. Halo server was down. MP was down. We couldn’t even connect to run some Campaign co-op.
So he played some Spartan ops (which he loved – as he could level up his MP character and unlock weapons, etc..), while I gave Campaign a spin.
Campaign: Loved the opening scenes. The mood was real. Like watching a movie. When I finally got to thaw out / power up MC, I felt like I was him. As MC talked with Cortana, I had the sense of heaviness, as if I (MC) was getting a little bit older, tired. I felt we were both now (Cortana and MC) a little bit fragile / brittle. Everything was not so optimistic. But, trouble was brewing and there was work to be done. Lock and load.
I decided for the first time in my Halo history to commit to playing the entire campaign on Heroic (always had played on Normal with a little Heroic mixed in). The Tension (with the extra difficulty) is palpable. The music / mood / graphics (colors/details/shadows/shading) are spectacular. Color pallet is darker. Previous Halo’s were bright and cartoony. This felt much much more realistic. p.s. Love the new heads-up display.
The sound is now something you can feel. Gunfire. Chatter of enemies. Even the crunching of my boots, made me want to slow down, so I wouldn’t be heard.
The music so far is amazing. Really sets the tone. First mission: Haunting, Scary, Lonely.
Gotta say: This is THE Game where having a big screen tv and surround sound (or headphones) really pays dividends. Immersive.
Gameplay: I feel like I’m in MC’s body armor. I loved trying out the new weapons as I progressed. Elites were tough to kill with my AR or Pistol, so when I found a plasma pistol I actually (Used it). Downed his shields, then one burst from my AR, and… Problem solved. Later, when I got a hold of a Needler, Wow!! What a Bad Ass weapon! The needle physics are outstanding. I had to be careful when I was shooting at a shielded jackal because the needles could bounce back at me.
Later, when I finally got a hold of a BR, I was in heaven. It felt heavy, and every bullet was precious (meaning there weren’t as many, but man did they do the job if you got head shots).
Level design. Typical tight Halo corridors when I was on the spaceship. This was expected. The AI is much improved, but still seemed a little dumb (meaning that I could move up, kill a few and fall back). They didn’t rush me. If I was them, I’d be beating down my door.
But, when I got “outside”, the battlefield opened up with enemies everywhere. I had options. I softened them up from afar, but soon was running low on ammo, so I decided the direct approach (through the middle). I was eaten up after a furious battle. Bummed… I respawned and rethought my options. I chose a fast moving flanking approach to get to my designation. It was touch and go, and soon the enemies that I had avoided (in the middle), were now flanking me. But I was moving fast enough, that they couldn’t close the loop. Spectacular. I felt “strategic”. I now LOVE playing on Heroic, because it is no longer possible to just win a war of attrition. They are tougher. I only have so much ammo. They move/flank smarter than any previous game.
Multiplayer: (only played one game before hitting the hay).
It was almost 2am and it was time for bed. I checked the MP status and it was now running. Sweet!
I played one match of slayer.
It felt different. More grounded / Call of Duty. I think I like it, but too early to tell.
1) The instant respawn, 2) Kill Cam, 3) The new load outs: Armor abilities Tactical packages, Support Upgrade. 4) Power weapons now have “beacons” so you can see where they are on the map at all times (sort of like Gears, but you don’t have to push a button to see them. They are just there). Probably annoying for some, but great for me as it seems no matter how much MP I play in Halo, I never remember where the power weapons are.
I don’t like: The Hardlight Shield load out (I haven’t tried it), but I’ve played against it. Guys can throw up a shield that “sticks to them” and still shoot. I lost most/all of those head to head battles with a shield guy.
So that’s it for first impression. What I can say is that I am pretty sure what I will be doing tonight. Vote. Nap. Then later either: A) Playing Halo or B) Watching the Election results. Oh wait, there is option C)…. Playing Halo and switching to the election from time to time.
Bottom line: I will vote and see what happens, but there are more important things at work here. The Universe is in jeopardy, and Master Chief is back on the job!