The more I play H4 (both campaign and MP), the more pity I feel for it. The game could have been so much more but it ultimately wasn't. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for 343 to both firmly establish themselves as a respected developer and set a solid course for Halo itself, but they lost it. What makes me truely painful is I think H4 legitimately has so many brilliant aspects(so I can't comfortably trash it like a truly terrible game), but was on the other hand let down by lots of awful designs(so I can't fully embrace it despite my desire to either). To me the game is an extremely polarized mix of good and bad, which consequently makes me both love and hate the game.As someone who didn't read the books the first time around it did feel a little off. But after it felt better once I knew a lot more which kind of is a double edge issue on one hand you have people who did read them getting it and liking it and people who just know the games feeling very out of place. If they would have kept the visuals similar and trickle in a few new things gameplay wise it would be better. I like the supply upgrade things in mp it makes it feel like your character is like the demo guy or vehicle guy. But the starting weapons feels off. I think there are some cool things to appreciate
Well in terms of external reliance H4 is not bad, I think (MUCH better than H5's giant mess, and arguably better than H2, since H4 directly picked up H3's trail whereas H2 had a huge narrative jump after H1 that not even First Strike
fully covered). The Forerunner part was definitely harder to understand, but was well-explained enough in the terminals (though most people will miss it by design). Originally H4 also had a "Terminal 0" introducing the Storm(ommited from MCC, which is not H4's fault). So strictly speaking, H4's campaign is a fairly self-contained one. Some of my major complaints:
- The weapon sounds, vehicle sounds, enemy dialog sounds etc. are all so high-pitched that they are outright painful, especially when using headphones. I have to take breaks every 20 minutues or so thanks to the non-stop screeches.
- Health concerns aside, weapon and vehicle sounds share similar tones. They and Covenant dialog sounds have much less distinction than their classic counterparts, lowering the player's situational awareness, therefore hindering their ability to choose and decide, ultimately replacing fun with frustration.
- Which some visual designs further worsen. The new Storm Rifle looks like the Carbine, the new Beam Rifle looks like Reach's Focus Rifle despite working like the classic Beam Rifle, Forerunner encounters are blasts of orange and silver, some helmeted Jackals look like mini Elites...I'm all for style changes, but why do it at the cost of functionality?
- Not to mention drastically changing the anatomy of Covenant species doesn't even make sense from a lore perspective. Changing their equipment is natural, changing their bodies then slap some "different sub-species canon" excuses to it is just stupid.
- Promethean designs are rather weak. Copycat weapons, furious combat experiences, appearances not my flavor, at least.
- Spartan Ops, of course.
- The Loadout-based MP is like, they tried to make it about roles/classes working together, but they actually didn't, making it just an equipment selection menu on top of the classic symmetrical system. I'd rather they keep the classic MP intact and offer an actually dedicated class-based MP type in parallel.
I can't help but feel that H4 is a half-baked package in terms of content. For each and every step forward you can almost certainly find another thing that went backward. Oh, and whoever up high decided to make H4 a 360 title should be held responsible too. I don't believe when Frank O'Connor said Spartan Ops was going to offer years of content, he and the team seriously trusted the 360 to keep rocking that long. Had it been developed as a native XB1 game, things might have turned out much better.