Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Too good to last

When we last left our hero, Master Chief was on the downward slope of his popularity and his AI companion was mentally eating herself alive. A scant three hours of game play later he was loved and respected again because he saved almost all of the humans on Earth (sorry about that, Arizona) but Cotana was 'dead.' The Halo games are full of death; every mission that contains other soldiers ends with them dying an no one blinks an eye. This is the first time that victory for the Master Chief has come at a personal cost and he doesn't take it well. Through the same monotone voicing of short sentences that makes him so boring it is obvious that he is crushed, both by the lost of his only friend and by the need to not react. He's the hero, he needs to keep on hero-ing. It's how he was taught. It's how he was built.

Master Chief is no Kratos, but at least there is a little more to him now than expensive armor.

Halo 4 is not an advertisement for the next game. The campaign is a complete story in spite of only taking about seven hours to get through. I know exactly how the next one is going to pick up, the Diadact is not dead, there will be a new Cortana that Master Chief will not like, and it will end with a new halo being discovered,  but this game is complete. 343 even went as far as including the Spartan Ops chapters for those who complain about how short the single player portion of a multiplayer game is. It would have worked, too, if only the Spartan Ops were any good.

I have intentionally not talked about the actual 'game' parts of Halo 4 because they are unchanged from the previous games. That is to say, they are still pretty damn good and the warthog still handles like ass. Divorced from the excellent story, though, repetition sets in quickly. Spartan Ops has none of the story and the levels are little more than large maps that throw wave after wave of enemies at you. All that is left is the shooting, and it is still pretty good, but it is the same pretty good. To be fair, they are intended for co-op and I am stubbornly forcing my way through them on a path of my own corpses, but they still feel needlessly tacked on. The campaign was as long as it needed to be and for those (read: everyone else) who needed more the online multiplayer was waiting with open arms and teabags.

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