Archive for November, 2012

I’m sure I’ve seen this plot before: A Halo 4 Review

SPOILERS

What I liked:

  • Overall it is a very pretty game, a lot has happened in the last four years and you can see if with the quality of cinematics and the visual appearance of the maps. A number of times I forgot I had things to do and just started sightseeing.
  • I did particularly enjoy the fact that Halo 4 takes place exactly the distance between the release of Halo 3 and Halo 4, right down to the hour
  • The Infinity survived the game: it kinda became a plot point in itself that whatever hero ship the Chief was based on would at sometime have to sacrifice itself to defeat the enemy; the Pillar of Autumn, the In Amber Clad, the Forward Unto Dawn (and even the Spirit of Fire) have all had to pay the ultimate sacrifice to end the game. It was refreshing to see the Infinity survive at least to the next game.
  • Commander Shepard is Captain Palmer; the head of the Spartan 4’s is voiced (and kinda looks like) the Female version of Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard. I thought that was pretty cool; however despite of this she gets practically no screen time; though I suspect that may be because of the fact that to many comparisons would be made between Captain Palmer and Commander Shepard, considering the similarities between Spartan 4’s and the revived Shepard.
  • Cortana has curves Open-mouthed smile enough said, she now looks a lot more feminine than previous incarnations; so there is finally a version of Cortana my girlfriend can cosplay as XD

What I didn’t like:

  • Captain Del-Rio. What a major douche he was; sure he was a good character, but he kinda didn’t exist, it was obvious that Commander Lasky is supposed to be the new supporting character, considering he is the hero of Forward Unto Dawn and is featured in all of the Infinity trailers (while Del-Rio isn’t) but the question is what exactly is the point of Captain Del-Rio. Sure he is no Captain Keyes, Miranda or Jacob (and Miranda was kinda lacklustre to begin with but she warmed up to me in the end) or even a Captain John Cutter, but there is not a single redeeming quality to him. Unlike the other Captain’s he is abrasive, doesn’t really like input from his subordinates, uses Spartans as disposable weapons, so it doesn’t matter that the most decorated soldier in the UNSC tells you its a bad idea, simply because the Chief is a Spartan, his opinion doesn’t matter, considering how he was removed from the position as Captain of the Infinity but its never explained how that happened, the question remains, what was the point in even having the character? Lasky wouldn’t have been the first UNSC Captain who liked to get their hands dirty, in fact all things considered, Captain Cutter was the only previous captain who didn’t leave their ship to participate in the mission.
  • I’ve read this plot before: pretty much the plot of Halo 4 is drawn almost directly from the Forerunner and Kilo-5 trilogies; the issue with that is that the game relies almost too much on that fact and because of that there are massive plot and visual issues that are simply not explained in the game; they left all the heavy lifting to the books. Now this is different to the previous game trilogy where they expanded upon the plot of the games and filled in the little details that can’t be translated into gameplay; but the problem is most of the issues in this game just aren’t explained at all; for instance, Who is the Diadect or the Librarian? In the Forerunner Trilogy their existence is explained, the problem is that the Forerunner Trilogy is just so badly written (and is the least read trilogy in the Halo franchise). Five seconds of dialogue, or a cinematic at some point could have explained just who these people were; and pointed out that hey these people are Forerunners, its just all of a sudden the Chief knows the name of his enemy (And yet can no longer understand the Covenant Languages?) I mean they spent more time explained the Mammoth than they did the main antagonist.
  • Cortana’s rampancy the UNSC would have records of when AI’s were created, also I’m surprised that the UNSC Infinity didn’t have an AI (or several) of its own; These AI’s would have noticed that as soon as Cortana came aboard that she was rampant; this in itself makes little sense, as it was explained that Cortana went rampant in Halo 3, and transcended to the point of metastability in Halo 4, also it is unsure as to what effect being on Requiem would have had on Cortana.
  • The Diadect is Harbinger; like Commander Shepard, the Diadect has the same voice actor as the villain from Mass Effect, Harbinger; which is both ironic (and annoying) as both are the vanguard for humanities destruction, and both have a habit of regularly taunting the protagonist, the part that annoyed me is that whenever I heard the Diadect, all I could hear is Harbinger.
  • What they dont care anymore? Previously when the Chief died in the presence of other friendly UNSC (or even enemy forces) they would taunt or cry out that the Chief was dead, now there is nothing; it kinda separates the Chief from the other UNSC forces, who previously were happy to see the Chief, now their kinda blasé to the presence of the most decorated soldier in the UNSC

What Made No Sense:

  • Why are the Covenant fighting the UNSC again? At not point aside from the Chief at the beginning of the game is surprised that the Covenant (albeit just Elites leading some Halo 1 era enemies, and sans any noticeable combat harnesses) are attacking the Infinity or the Forward Unto Dawn, sure the plot of the Kilo-5 trilogy is to keep the Elites off balance to allow the UNSC the chance to remobilise and prepare for additional conflicts, but even in the books it hasn’t gotten to the point where the Covenant would be returning, or that the Elites would turn on their Earth Allies. And yet everyone seems to just accept that a) its the Covenant, not the Sang’heli State, and b) that they are attacking the UNSC.
  • We have communications issues; for the last two Halo Games (2 and 3) the we have been able to understand the Covenant languages they would bark orders, issue insults and generally speak in rough English translations, in Reach we didn’t because it was set before Cortana and the invention of the translation matrix, hell even in the re-release of Halo Combat Evolved, we could begin to understand the Covenant, and yet, four years after 3, their back to grunts and snarls? The worst part about this is the fact that no one comments on it. a simple exchange between the Chief and Cortana could have explained it or set up the reason; with the possible reasons being
    1. Damage to the translation matrix due to being stuck for four years on a broken ship
    2. Cortana’s rampancy taking resources from the Chiefs suit causing the translation matrix to be shut down
    3. Regional dialects previously not encountered before
    4. Simply put “You don’t want to know what they are saying”
  • So how did the Chief’s suit get upgraded? The Chief emerges from cryo in a set of Phase 2 Mijolnir armour, and just accepts it, he entered in Mark 6 armour and emerges in a completely different set, considering there really is only the one cinematic before the Chief arrives on Infinity, they could have visually left the Chief in his old armour and have him wear the upgraded gear when he arrives on Infinity, another one of those five seconds of dialogue things that 343 seems to have overlooked (again). Sure Cortana points out that she upgraded the firmware of his suit (which explains why his HUD is different), but doesn’t explain how the suit got the upgrade. Sure in Kilo-5 (see a trend here) they explain that the phase two suits have nanites on them that upgrade the suit when the Spartan is in cryo, the issue is that THE CHIEF WASN’T IN A PHASE TWO SUIT PRIOR TO ENTERING. Every Halo game at one point has the period where the Chief gets the new armour (except 3 there they just scuff it up because the Chief didn’t have the time to get the upgrades) it became the point where they did the control calibration (another thing missing from 4); they could have had the cinematic featured at the end of the game somewhere in the middle of the game where the Chief dons the new armour, with Captain Palmer giving him a rundown of the suits new systems, because lets face it Captain Palmer has only a minute and a half of total dialogue in five hours of Campaign Gameplay, and absolutely no in game appearance; it would have been good for the start of mission two to have that interaction.
    This is similar to the question of how did the equipment on the Forward Unto Dawn become upgraded when no one was around to do it? Sure there might be a gameplay mechanics reason for doing it, but overall it just didn’t look right; also the Warthog sounds like its stuck in third gear.
  • Did they mutate or what? The Covenant all look visually different, almost to the point where they look nothing like they previously did; Grunts now look like Turtles, Jackals just look like mini-Elites and something happened to the head of the Elites, because now its more triangular than previously. Sure I know that changes in visual engines allows you to upgrade the appearance because you have more pixels to play with, but there seemed to be very little difference between the Covenant races; for instance they are all wearing the same helmet now.
  • How does he know how to use that? Chief has never seen the Railgun before, or just about any of the Covenant/Forerunner weapons in this game, and yet instinctively knows how to use them.

What I hated

They killed off Cortana

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