Everyone knew Halo 4 was going to be a juggernaut, the question was whether it was going to be any good. Let me assuage any concerns you may have immediately and say, yes, it is good. Quite good, in fact. 343 Industries grew out of Bungie’s Halo team, so it knows the series. 343 is responsible for the canon, the art design, the controls…everything. But Bungie is Bungie, which is akin to saying Samuel Adams knows how to make beer well. Halo 4 is a crisp, draft Sam Adams cascading into your glass, golden-amber bubbles invigorating your senses and aromatics inciting your salivary glands into overdrive. [SPOILER: For those who don’t know, I drink the Halo Kool-Aid in epic proportions. Though I will also be first to tell you if  something I thought was so promising sucked. I’m looking at you Metroid: Other M.]

Lifelike, even.

Why is Halo 4 exemplary? Firstly the goddamn graphics of this game are ridiculous; 343 is seriously pushing the 360’s hardware. Gone are the blocky, blurry humans of Halo games past. The art crew for this game really captured basic human expressions and movements. I’d have to think motion capture was used, though I’m too lazy to delve into that right … … … OK, motion capture confirmed. Beyond the “actors” of the game, though, as always, Halo’s environments are astounding to look at. There are areas where sterility has set in, but those areas are meant to look that way. Apparently the Forerunners just couldn’t nail down interior design, but my god they figured out the whole floating tower thing.

The music has its moments thus far. I’ve heard a few scifi-esque tracks mixed in with the standard epic fanfare that has overtaken all videogamedom (and by scifi, I am thinking more along the lines of Blade Runner or any sort of prog-synth concoction you can surmise). Honestly, when playing a scifi game such as this, I am looking for the scifi music, delivered in a game most notably by the original Mass Effect, only to be bastardized in its following sequels, but I digress. The music may have its peaks and valleys, but the sound of Halo 4 is by far the best of the series, and I might surmise better than 95% of video games on the market today (like I could even know that!). Halo 4’s sound really knows how to explore the space in my basement, pouring through all five channels on my amp. I cringe to think how it sounds in 7.1.

As I mentioned earlier, I am super into Halo. The canon is entertaining to me. We’re not talking about something written by Arthur C. Clarke or Philip K. Dick but I find it intriguing regardless (despite Cortana’s constant apologizing). So, for me, the campaign is where Halo begins and ends. I take my time with it, soaking in the atmosphere, looking for cute little secrets and easter eggs, admiring the level design. So far I am not disappointed with the campaign (I still have two or three more levels to go). The multiplayer is not so important to me because I’ve never enjoyed playing with strangers; it just doesn’t interest me. If my friends would buy Halo 4 maybe I could enjoy these aspects some more, but they’re all assholes and haven’t done so yet. But these ramblings are meant to segue into Halo 4’s Spartan Ops, meant to act as a co-op, season-pass-esque experience. Spartan Ops are playable solo and feature the same ole’ goodness of the campaign, just with little to no story. It’s more a test of skill, and a chance to plow through some of the challenges set forth by the developer, a holdover from Halo: Reach which I always liked. Either way, it’s more for your money (at least for now, until new content starts costing money).

We get it, you're sad.

Again, I haven’t touched multiplayer yet, but I’m sure I’ll give it a fair shake eventually. Though I can’t imagine it would be anything less than a stellar addition to a terrific game. The best parts of Halo 4 are the little touches added in, those that aren’t really relevant other than you can say to yourself, ‘wow, that’s cool how they added that.’ The introductory level, for instance, requires the Chief to take a walk on the hull and fight off a group of double-crossing Covies. Shooting Grunts in the face, which is always a simple pleasure, takes them down instantly until they start floating just off the surface. It is certainly not necessary, but it adds so much to the experience, that attention to detail. These details are the cherry on top of a great game, one that could have easily been a step back in the series.

Those flying assholes, they're something else.

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