Halo 4 Hands-on (Xbox360)

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This past weekend I was at rAge 2012, one of the best weekends of the year. This year it was even more awesome as I was able to get some hands-on time with Halo 4. For the record, everyone that knows me will know that I’m a huge fan of the Halo series and have played all of the Halo games to date, so I was really excited about getting some play time in with Halo 4.

Halo 4 Screenshot 1

At rAge 2012 they had an eight Xbox 360 setup for Halo 4 for everyone to play. One of my favourite things before I started playing was seeing the Limited Edition Halo controller, I have to say it is beautiful. When I started playing I discovered the gamer that was before me had quit the one match and started a game of his own, so I was running around looking for people to shoot but there wasn’t anyone. But this gave me a few moments to have a look at the detail that 343 has put into the game.

The visuals are a big improvement from Halo Reach. The level of detail they have in the maps is mind blowing, for example the light streams running along the walls and the small details they have added to the environment. Also the level of detail they have added to the weapons is really good. I ran around for a bit with the new Forerunner weapons, although sadly I didn’t have the chance to shoot anybody with them. I can tell you that the animations for the Forerunner weapons are awesome, the way the gun ‘slaps’ together is cool.

Halo 4 Screenshot 2

So after a few minutes of running around looking at the detail of the game and getting to grips with the controls I was ready to take on some opponents. I joined the other seven players for some of the fast Halo multiplayer action we have come to love in the older games. Nothing has changed except it has become faster! In Halo 4 there is a new mode called Regicide. In this mode there is a bounty placed on a single player’s head, who becomes known as the ‘King.’ As the King kills more opponents the bounty grows, and when you kill the King you receive the bounty points and you become the new King of the match. Points are still rewarded to players for kills etc., but there is obviously going to be one priority target for Regicide.

The map we played on was called Longbow. Here is a bit more information about this map that we played on: “The frigid climate and unique gravitational conditions of Concord’s northern polar region provide an optimal perch for Longbow Station’s channel-based mass drivers. Before the Covenant War, the UEG launched deep space monitoring relays from here in an effort to study far-flung star systems.” What I liked about this map was that it reminded me of Powerhouse in Halo Reach, it is a small map but big enough for some epic battles. Two vehicles were available on this map: The Ghost and Mongoose (Quad bike). A new addition to the online mode is that there are beacons on your HUD to show you where all of the weapons are located – I know some will like it and some won’t.

Halo 4 Screenshot 5

Speaking of weapons, I have to mention the sound of the weapons has been improved, and every time you fire your weapon with the volume just right it will give you goosebumps. I managed to use the Assault rifle, the Energy Sword and the Sniper rifle. The Assault rifle had some kick to it, but not much recoil. It was a perfect all round weapon. The Sniper rifle was a snipers dream, it packs a mean punch and it is going to be any opponent’s nightmare. The Energy Sword was fun to use for a bit and the level of detail they have added to Halo 4 really shows with the Energy Sword, with the ‘energy’ moving through the sword.

The controls in Halo 4 are perfect, the layout on the controller just works so nicely. You have your right-bumper to interact with objects, left-bumper for melee, left-trigger for grenade and right-trigger for shooting, with this layout you have all the important controls at your fingertips. I always say a good controller layout makes for perfect gameplay. The controls are very responsive, which they have to be because the action is so fast and epic.

Halo 4 Screenshot 4

The time I spent in Halo 4 multiplayer was truly great. At the end of the match I was killed within the last two seconds of the match, this was sad as I dropped down to second place and didn’t get to fight for top spot again. I’m really looking forward to playing more Halo 4 on November 6th. 343 has put in so much effort and passion into this title and one can see it when you play the game. I wasn’t able to play any of the singleplayer campaign, but I see that as a good thing because I know when I start a Halo campaign I can’t stop.

If you a Halo fan then this game is going to blow you away. I’m counting down the days for my copy to arrive. Don’t forget the awesome Halo 4 Tournament that is taking place in November – see all you Spartans online.