Halo 4 was my first point of call at Eurogamer, as much a result of my own anticipation as the desire to maximise the early access ticket and beat the inevitable queues. Teasers, screenshots and videos have long since been available from the 343 studios marketing machine, building up a feverish expectation concerning the new Halo offering – a new enemy, a new story and new weapons (toys!) to flesh out a fresh game starring the coolest gravelly voiced protagonist since Solid Snake.
I should have suspected. It was no great secret that the demo was going to be of the multi-player… which was disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, Halo 3 is far from the first multiplayer FPS I’ve played, but my gaming matured in it and I recognise its fabulous legacy. I played a round and promptly wished I’d brushed up on my Halo skills – I didn’t do terribly, but I didn’t do particularly well either. Halo 4 boasts a heavily modified Reach engine, purportedly pushing the X360 to its limits, but in the midst of a frenetic murder-thon it was hard to see any great improvement. The map itself seemed to be made of the usual shiny metal walls and energy fields we are so used to; the largely indoor location ensured there were no great vistas or draw distances to gawp at.
I didn’t get to play with a new weapon, but observed a couple in action. sometimes being the guinea pig for their testing and they seem pretty cool- all ‘alieny’ and everything. Your character can now sprint, which is welcome inclusion, I always felt a little bit like I was running through syrup in Halo after playing COD or BF3. 343 Studios have carefully analysed the competition and have responded with ordinance drops- a sort of killstreak (more accurately, a pointstreak) reward. I’m normally suspicious of mechanisms that reward players who are slaughtering the opposition with tools to make them untouchable, but if the balance is carefully done then most players will welcome these mini-rewards.
If you already love Halo: Reach multiplayer then I can confidently state that you will get your rocks off with this, because that is what I played – a decent Halo: Reach expansion. As for what I can’t wait for- the Halo 4 singleplayer and co-op storyline – I can’t really tell you as I didn’t so much as get a sniff.