Halo. The mere word is enough to send its fans into rapturous reminiscences about ‘that time I stayed up till 4AM dominating my friends online’ or ‘that time I got that triple kill with one bullet bounced off a wall’. One of the most successful video game series of all time, each episode of the Halo saga is greeted with universal anticipation. Drawing crowds of uber-fans dressed as their favourite gravelly voiced Spartan every launch night, videos emerging of the latest effort suggest that there is no reason why Halo 4 won’t smash all sales records that have preceded it.
In the above video, it is clear to see that 343 Industries, the games developer entrusted with the unenviable task of replacing the estranged ‘Bungie’ who were formally the brains behind the Halo series, have taken a different, though not unwelcome, direction with the upcoming first person shoot-em up. Though Halo has provided an embarrassing number of hours of testosterone-fueled fun over the years to its fans, the enemies and weapons have not changed all that much; Elites, Grunts and Jackals have been cannon fodder for millions of fans the world over since 2001-over a decade ago now.
Consequently, the intense, exhilarating introduction to the bizarre enemies encountered in the game-play trailer is certainly a refreshing addition to the vibrant Halo universe. In addition, the ‘fore-runner’ weapons that these terrifying new enemies wield are also promising signs of innovation and ambition from the new developer. Again, although weapons in Halo are as ridiculous as they are powerful, additional armaments will be most welcome to fans chomping at the bit to lay waste to hordes of new and unfamiliar enemies. Some of the ‘fore-runner’ guns showcased in the campaign trailer certainly show that 343 Industries are not lacking in the imagination department; when picked up, they seem to assemble themselves via some kind of dark voodoo magic.
Halo’s online multi-player is renowned the world over as one of the most thrilling and enjoyable gaming experiences around. Fans will hotly anticipate a host of exciting additions to their favourite online shooter. One particularly striking feature apparent in the above online game-play trailer is ‘Promethean Vision’. A new-fangled visual mode, this casts a colourful, fluid filter over the screen that highlights enemies in red and allies in green, and even highlights what weapons other players are using. This looks like it will add a new dimension to online play, and should if nothing else help gamers to annihilate the dreaded ‘campers’ who are notorious for concealing themselves in dark shadowy corners, ready to pounce at any passing victims with a shotgun in what is widely mented as the most cowardly of gaming styles.
The obligatory graphical overhaul should lend the game a further veneer of polish, allowing players to further immerse themselves in the endlessly engrossing Halo world. Indeed, recent rumours suggest that the latest edition of the Halo series will exert a greater focus on exploration, mystery and discovery, as opposed to the previous emphasis on relentless, high octane warfare. If the gripping campaign trailer is anything to go by, this may well be the case; the game certainly envelops the player in tension in the suspenseful build up to the discovery of unfamiliar enemies and weapons.
If the game presents us with a sprawling environment to explore, it is reasonable to expect a number of new vehicles with which to traverse the rugged, hostile alien-ridden terrain in. Certainly, women’s car insurance won’t be on Cortana’s mind when she commands him to jump into a deadly new extraterrestrial-crunching vehicle.
It will be fascinating to see whether 343 Industries can live up to the monumental pressure to build on Bungie’s success as developer of the heralded Halo franchise. If the latest scintillating trailers are anything to go by, fans will be in for a treat, though only time will tell if Halo 4 will leave the uber-fans who will inevitably camp outside their local stores the night before launch day satisfied.
Christine Jenkins is a freelance writer from London, England who loves her gaming. She has lost many an evening of writing to the Halo series and it looks like she may be about to lose a few more.