- Awakening Could've Been The Last Fire Emblem
- Microsoft On Xbox One Used Games - "We Don't Know Yet"
- Xbox One Doesn't Work When Kinect Is Disconnected
- Ryse Confirmed For Xbox One
- Call Of Duty: Ghosts Revealed, Multiplayer Detailed
- Xbox One Launches This Fall
- Halo Television Show, NFL Xbox One Experience Announced
- Microsoft And Remedy Reveal Quantum Break For Xbox One
- Forza 5 Officially Revealed For Xbox One
- Xbox One Always Connected To Cloud, Achievements And Xbox LIVE To Change Dynamically
SDCC 2012: Halo 4 Hands-On Preview
Halo 4 is 343's first swing at a totally original game in the revered series, and the differences in development style between Bungie and the series' new owners, while subtle, is definitely tangible. Master Chief and his ilk have a certain weight to them, a sort of heft that wasn't present in the last few games. The animations and movements really reinforce the fact that these are hulking, hefty soldiers wearing body armor that weighs more than your car. Don't get me wrong, it's still an incredibly responsive game, but in a slightly different way, and everything has a much more realistic heft to it. Think Battlefield Bad Company or Killzone.
Also, sprinting is now a standard part of the Spartans' training. Yes, that's right, after all of these years the super-soldiers have figured out how to run, and it's not an Armor Ability like it was in Halo: Reach. In Halo 4, any player can sprint by clicking in the left stick. It's definitely a small change in the grand scheme of things, but it makes Halo feel like it's finally gotten with the times, if you will.
A few other minor changes to weapon balance will mean that experienced Halo players wil have to take a few moments to acclimate. Grenades have been neutered a bit after being pumped up for Halo: Reach. 343 stated that the impetus behind this change was to reduce the grenade spamming that was apparently becoming an issue in Halo: Reach, but personally I couldn't help wondering if reducing grenade damage was a step backwards. After all, hadn't the explosives been strengthened in Reach because of complaints against Halo 3 and its limp ordinance?
Melee attacks, on the other hand, have much more kick to them, if not in terms of damage than at least in terms of visuals. Hits just look harder in Halo 4, and this is reinforced by some of the new assassination moves, which are far more brutal than they were in the past. New Armor Abilities round out the changed feel of the game. Abilities like Promethean Vision will allow you to see enemies through walls, while some of the more controversial abilities, specifically Armor Lock, were nowhere to be found (and were later confirmed to not be in the game.)
Finally, attentive players will notice a few new tricks present on the HUD. For one thing, the game is more specific when informing you of which direction you are taking fire from. You will now see a pointed arrow showing you the exact direction from which you are taking damage, instead of the older games' more indistinct rings. The onscreen radar will also tell you when enemies are above or below you, another aspect that, like sprinting, has long been demanded by much of the Halo community. By far the biggest additino to the HUD is the ordinance drop meter. This small box will gradually fill as you get kills and, once filled, it will allow you to call down one of three random weapons or powers. Like Call of Duty's ordinance killstreak, the ordinance drops in Halo 4 can be stolen by other players, so you'd best hustle to the drop zone if you want to make use of your precious reward.
343 was showing off two different modes at Comic Con with two completely different goals and playstyles. The first was the cooperative Spartan Ops, the ambitious episodic mode that will be updated on a weekly basis, and the second was the competitive and objective-based War Games. In both modes, we enjoyed using new Forerunner weapons such as the Scattershot, a shotgun whose spread can actually be reflected off of surfaces to score crazy trick kills. This new weapon will likely be a favorite when it comes to the user-created kill compilations that have dominated Bungie's servers and YouTube over the last few years.
Both games we played took place on the Haven map. This small level featured a ring-like design that encouraged movement towards a central platform. By taking a gravity lift or a ramp to the center of the level, players could gain a height advantage. This naturally made the central platform the most hotly-contended area of the level, and at such close quarters it was a great place to fool around with the aforementioned Scattershot.
343 has definitely taken Halo and made it their own. There are enough subtle differences at play that I would almost be troubled as a long-time fan of the series, if the whole thing wasn't so due for a shake up. As is, I don't necessarily think that a more weighty Chief is a bad thing, and the new modes and weapons introduced on the show floor were fun enough that I wished I could play more. This Halo is definitely unlike any other, and perhaps that's the best thing that could've happened to the beloved series.