Halo 4: Master Chief passes the test

By Troy Rawhiti-Forbes

The Master Chief's return has been greeted with widespread positivity. Photo / Supplied
The Master Chief's return has been greeted with widespread positivity. Photo / Supplied

The general public won't be taking their copies home until next week, but the internet has already exploded with chatter about the game that is arguably the biggest and most important of the year.

Last night at a minute past eight, a global media embargo on the Xbox 360-exclusive Halo 4 broke like a dam, and the reviews came gushing through.

Many of them have been gushing in their praise for the new title, the first all-new Halo from developers 343 Industries. The game has a current ranking of 90% at Metacritic, enough to warrant "universal acclaim" status.

In the nzherald.co.nz review, Halo 4 received a perfect 5/5 and was lauded for the emotional depth of its character-driven drama.

"This is a game that is superior to its predecessors in every conceivable way, with enough action and emotion to qualify it as one of the great cultural works of the year, regardless of the medium.

"Simply put, this is the best Halo yet."

NZGamer's Alan Bell also awarded a perfect score to Halo 4 - only the second the time the site has rated a game to the maximum.

Bell took note of the game's graphics, which he said were of a "next-generation" standard.

"If you've been gradually moving away from consoles in favour of a high-specced PC, you absolutely must take a look at Halo 4 in motion," he wrote.

The only other game to score 10/10 at NZGamer was Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption. The Wild West console shooter was also the Herald's game of the year for 2010.

New Zealand PC World's Siobhan Keogh delivered a thorough examination of Halo 4's multiplayer offering in her four and a half star review.

Keogh wrote in glowing terms of two new team deathmatch game types, and admitted to being underwhelmed by the narrative-driven Spartan Ops mode.

"Extraction is pretty good, but when I played with a group of other reviewers, Dominion was the game type everyone wanted to play again. And again."

Keogh praised the campaign's storyline with Master Chief for being "engaging" from the very start, and wished she could feel the same about Spartan Ops.

"The main problem with Spartan Ops is the story. There's not really one to speak of yet, which is sad, as 343 Industries has been saying for months that Spartan Ops was all about putting more story into the multiplayer."

Writing on his blog site, Press reviewer Gerard Campbell said the "crowning glory" of Halo 4 was in the way it examined the relationship between its leading players.

"Sure, the game play is solid and the visuals rich, but the story of Cortana and Master Chief is the meat here," he wrote in his closing paragraph.

"And I liked that."

The international view

Ryan McCaffrey of IGN said Halo 4 was a "bar-raising triumph" for the first-person shooter genre, and awarded the game a score of 98 per cent.

However, he expressed concerns about the impact higher difficulty settings had on the "fetch quest-y, flip-three-switches sequences."

He said: " I spent upwards of an hour trying to trudge through one of them on Heroic, but when playing again on Normal I cruised through on the first try."

In Edge's 8/10 assessment, the staff reviewer said the game's biggest triumph was reintroducing the Master Chief to players.

"Halo 4 is ... a common-sense repair to a drifting narrative, with a hero who is now back in play and back at his best."

Of the multiplayer component, the reviewer said Halo was moving towards "frenetic Call of Duty standards," far removed from the loadout-free missions of old.

EGM's Brandon Justice was less impressed than his peers, awarding the game 7/10 and calling for the franchise to try harder.

"Fans of the game will have a blast here, and the multiplayer is something special, but if you expected Halo 4 to keep up with the Joneses, you might be disappointed."

On Twitter, Justice had to defend himself from negative responses to his review.

@RenHo3k said it was "terrible" and that he'd be looking elsewhere for gaming journalism.

Justice asked: "Have you played it yet?"

"Nope, sure haven't," came the reply.

Players will be able to judge for themselves when Halo 4 launches on November 6.

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