Halo 4: Beautiful and Empty With Choices I Hated

Halo 4 on Steam

“Halo 4” is easily the weakest of all the games in the “Master Chief Collection.” It doesn’t help that the story of Master Chief and Cortana is done after 3 and Microsoft wasn’t able to pull of a “Toy Story 4” but I also didn’t hate it overall, though there were quite a few story choices I did hate. This is a game that I won’t recommend unless you are completionist or already bought the Master Chief Collection. I enjoyed it but this is a story only for those who want a little more lore and gameplay, both of which are weaker than the past games.

The story follows Master Chief and Cortana when Master Chief is awakened 4 years later above the mysterious world of Requiem as a Covenant Remnant attempts to destroy him.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Soundtrack – This soundtrack is much more mysterious and electronic that really is the strongest in the final mission. Neil Davidge and Kazuma Jinnouchi bring this world to life and elevate a pretty weak script.

The Graphics – This is easily the best looking of the “Halo Franchise” up to this point and the cinematography is also movie level quality. This game is beautiful, it is just a shame the story couldn’t be more.

Master Chief – Master Chief is compelling in that he is doing all he can to save humanity and Cortana but it doesn’t get much deeper than that. He is the only human with an ounce of complexity and he barely carries this story.

The Covenant Remnant – The Covenant Remnant are so much fun to fight (much fun than the A.I. Promethean enemies) but we never see their leadership interact with the Didact. They feel like they are just there because they are familiar when so much more could have been done with their story this game.

Okay:

The Didact and Librarian – The Promethean Leadership is okay. The Didact is the main villain who want to kill humanity for being the Reclaimers. We get hints of that ancient history and hatred but it isn’t enough to carry the game. This needed multiple games to really be made the most of or at least some setup in expansions prior. I didn’t hate the Prometheans but them as a threat and ally only really works in how mysterious they are, not in the history we see.

The Combat – The combat is weaker than in prior games, which is a shame since you get a jet-pack and the cool Combat-Walker called the Mantis. Most vehicles are weaker and even the weapons don’t feel as effective. Halo 3 this wasn’t a problem so I wasn’t sure what happened inbetween.

The Cons:

The Knights and Crawlers / A.I. Enemies – The A.I. enemies are really annoying. They swarm you and have predictable ways of behaving. The Knights take a lot of hits and the Crawlers can swarm you. The Drones also can reconstitute dead Knights so you need to watch for that. Any section with multiples of these takes longer than expected and made the game tedious. Just give me some Elites, Hunters and Brutes, they are deadly but at least fun to fight.

The Human Characters – The human characters are usually always clashing with Master Chief or are just bland followers. I missed Johnson and the humans we met before as the game seeking to make Master Chief more of a rebel just came off making humanity unsympathetic. We got scientists obsessed with study over survival and Commanders who have the same mentality. I don’t think 4 years fighting Covenant Remnants would have realistically done this to the UNSC.

Cortana’s Arc – Cortana is dying and fails as she is dying over the course of the mission. In the end she saves Master Chief and humanity and that is it. The reason this is a con is it isn’t gradual and for her being in Master Chief’s head you never get the full effect of what is going on with her. This was a missed opportunity as her and Chief were solid in the main trilogy.

Master Chief as Chosen One – The Librarian says that Master Chief was made to defeat the Didact and save humanity and force evolves him. He becomes a literal chosen one. I hated this as before he was an important part but not the only thing saving humanity. I also hate Chosen One narratives generally and this one doesn’t do it well. It feels contrived and forced.

This was a fun, beautiful and a very flawed game. This is easily the weakest part of the “Master Chief Collection” and I’d only recommend it to completionists or folks who really want to know what happens next. I liked the game enough to finish it but the characters and world deserved better than an enjoyable game if the story were to continue.

Final Score: 7 / 10 I enjoyed it though part of me wonders if this score is still being generous. I was inspired enough to finish the game, so I guess it stands.

Original “Dawn of War” Reviews – Dawn of War: Game of the Year Edition

Dawn of War Game of the Year Edition

       Warhammer 40K is a fascinating world and the first “Dawn of War” does a great job exploring it in the campaign and story. I wish the Tyranids had been an added faction though, as they are more well known than the Eldar it seems. Sadly the Tyranids would not be playable in this series, only through a mod are they playable in “Soulstorm” it is a pretty good mod though. Enough on what this game doesn’t have though, how does it work and what is the story?

      The story involves the Space Marine Gabriel Tosh and his Librarian Isador going to the planet Tartarus to save it from the Orks. Things soon get out of control though as Chaos is seen to be working behind the scenes and the Eldar strike against. It soon becomes a race against time to get the Malidictum as an Inquisitor arrives to root out Chaos on the world.

The Pros: The Gameplay – The gameplay is much faster than “Starcraft” in regards to RTSs and reminds me a lot of “Warcraft III” where the name of the game is speed as you only have 2 resources to deal with and build times are fast. The factions are also unique enough in how they play too which makes it interesting as you capture points on the map and seek to take out the enemy’s bases.

The Factions – You have the Orks who are my favorite who like the Zerg can get a lot of units on the map and are mostly close range in their types of attacks and like fighting for the sake of fighting, you have the Eldar who are like a weaker Protoss but are good at hit and runs, you have Chaos who has a larger build time but some of the best end game units and has caster units as they are Daemon worshippers and you have the Space Marines who are the most balanced and serve their Emperor with religious devotion.

The Ending – The ending ends with Gabriel freeing the Daemon trapped in the Malidictum and vowing to get back at him. We never know if the Inquisitor was working for Chaos all along but the fact that the Eldar and Space Marines weren’t killing each other on the final mission was major progress which I liked. Tartarus is also lost and overrun by the Orks.

Okay: The Story – The story is alright but the Librarian’s corruption could have been handled better…everyone was way to naive and stupid with only the Eldar being the smart folks. The Space Marines were just as stupid about fighting as the Orks and Chaos was Chaotic Stupid as everyone turned on everyone and only the Daemon ended up winning as all his servants died in the fight which was enough to free him. I liked the Inquisitor, the Orks and the Eldar though. Gabriel was just bland, which is saying a lot given his backstory was destroying his homeworld after believing it had fallen to Chaos.

Orks and Eldar – The Orks and Eldar are okay. The mysteriousness of the Eldar and them knowing things about Chaos was handled great, but they had no named characters. The Orks weren’t much better but their love of fighting and being the biggest and meanest and loving Waghhh! Was done really well.

Chaos – Chaos was Chaotic Stupid though I did enjoy the Sorcerer trolling everyone and Chaos did have a great aesthetic and they were tough to fight at times…they actually felt like a threat!

Gabriel and the Inquisitor – These two are alright. The Inquisitor suspects Gabriel because he destroyed his homeworld but in the end trusts him after Isidor’s betrayal and we see them have a respect for one another as Gabriel distrusts him too since he is part of the Inquisition. They both have arcs though and in the end both lost to Chaos even though they survive.

The Cons: The Librarian – I didn’t believe in this guy’s corruption. He had no reason to seek power and we never saw him use what power he had for the Imperium. For this reason his excuse of using the power of the Warp and Chaos in that way was bs and in the end he was just a weak character with missed potential.

   If you like the world of Warhammer 40K, you will probably like this game. It is one of the few Original “Dawn of War” games with a campaign and it is a lot of fun! The 10th level is the most difficult and the final level is easier by comparison but there is still a learning curve for those unfamiliar with RTSs, and if you are familiar the missions are fun and are a great way of revealing the story.

Final Score: 8 / 10 Needed more exploration of the other factions outside the Imperium and Chaos could have been written much more smarter. Still a good game though.