Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Halo 4' Is Progression Fans Have Been Waiting For

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Halo 4' Is Progression Fans Have Been Waiting For

Article excerpt

'HALO 4'

Critic's Call: ****

Release Date: Nov. 6

Eleven years after the original "Halo" jumpstarted the Xbox console and created a mega-gaming franchise, new developer 343 Industries has taken over with expectations to raise the first- person shooter bar while appeasing purists and the eSports community. A mission this difficult is better suited for Master Chief, but based on the excellence of "Halo 4," 343 Industries is up to the task.

While earlier titles focused on an action-heavy story, "Halo 4" ($59.99, Xbox 360, rated M for Mature) shifts the tone to the thought-provoking angle of Master Chief's psyche and, more specifically, his obscure relationship with his digital companion, Cortana.

Following the events of "Halo 3," Earth believes Chief and Cortana to be dead, but they have both been floating in space. Something intercepts their ship, which causes Cortana to wake the Chief from cryo-sleep. Covenant forces have invaded the ship, but something larger is at work. The ship is being pulled into the synthetic planet of Requiem. The Covenant is no longer the greatest threat to mankind -- the fabled Forerunners have returned.

The campaign is not without confusing scenes. The sci-fi lingo will vex the majority of players who haven't delved into "Halo's" expanded universe of books, but the focus is always on Chief and Cortana. We learn that the designated lifespan of AIs is six years, and Cortana has been active for seven. This protocol is in place due to AIs becoming "rampant," a form of AI insanity. Cortana's mental state slowly deteriorates, making missions more panicked and urgent. "Halo 4" promotes an emotional attachment to the characters more than any other game in the series.

Not since "Halo 3" has a "Halo" game felt like genuine progression. "Halo 3: ODST" was a glorified expansion on "Halo 3," and "Halo: Reach" never felt like the leap that it was touted to be. …

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