Remember that time when I played Halo 3 and called it a science fiction trilogy? So it turns out that a new studio got their hands on the property and made a new game, so, trilogy no more I suppose. To get the obvious parts out of the way, gameplay is identical to the previous games, so if you liked those, you should ought to like this too. I reckon that the same is true for multi-player, but I haven’t hit it up yet, so I cannot say for certain. But the important questions are: new studio? new plot entry in an already complete story? seriously, someone thought this was a good idea?
Except, in contravention of all known wisdom on the topic, this may be the best Halo of all of them. It’s like, yeah, the new story absolutely relies on everything that has gone before and would never work as a standalone tale, and what has gone before is a pretty cool story that had lots of highs and lows and dramatic tension and tragedies and triumphs, and I stand by all the good I’ve ever said about it. But Halo 4 relates two very personal, small-scale struggles, and it wrestles on multiple fronts with a question as old as the very genre of science fiction itself, what does it mean to be human?
There’s also an entirely serviceable sci-fi plot to hold up these philosophical delvings, about which I’m glad, because you have to have a working plot, and a working plot about the historical forebears of all the cool tech floating around in the galaxy is always of interest. But mostly this game was about the emotional resonance for me, and I have not had this much investment in a specific videogame outcome but a handful of times previously. (Aeris in Final Fantasy VII, the shocking climax of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and my fierce protectiveness of Tali in the Mass Effect games are all I can think of.) Honestly, there’s a specific line of dialogue that haunts me days later, and I don’t think any of the others have managed that. (Aspects of the Portal games haunt me too, but not in the same way.)