RRP: $ 89.95 ( Re­viewed on Xbox 360)

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - TECH - Mike Wilcox Email mike@ hy­per­ac­tiveg­ames. com

THE success of Mi­crosoft’s Xbox con­sole can­not be dis­cussed with­out a men­tion of the smash hit fran­chise that has been kick­ing goals from the start.

This year the se­ries is in new hands though, with a dif­fer­ent de­vel­oper as we em­bark on the first in a fresh tril­ogy of games.

Back in the boots of Master Chief for the first time in five years, the first thing Halo fans will ex­pe­ri­ence, is a strong sense of nos­tal­gia.

Off- handed grenade throws, snatched head shots and quick melees – the pace and rhythm will be as fa­mil­iar as an old song to se­ries veter­ans, but you’ll push on, pum­melled by in­cred­i­ble graph­ics, breath­tak­ing vis­tas, and be­fore you know it, that old song gets into your head.

Just as that fa­mil­iar­ity starts to crys­tallise into bore­dom, along come the changes. The most ob­vi­ous of th­ese are the Prometheans, syn­thetic warriors that are ag­gres­sive, sur­pris­ing, and strik­ing.

With re­pair drones, at­tack dogs, and sen­try tur­rets bol­ster­ing their ranks, they make for a fresh chal­lenge from the rank and file of Covenant troops.

But the real re­li­gious zealots of Halo 4 are its new cre­ators, 343 In­dus­tries, tak­ing Bungie’s famed 30 sec­onds of fun de­sign phi­los­o­phy as gospel. The fact they suc­ceed is ad­mirable, but it’s hard not to wish that they dared to play with, and sub­vert, this rule book.

The ac­tion is di­vided be­tween the co- op­er­a­tive Spar­tan Ops mode and the com­pet­i­tive team based skir­mishes. The ex­tra level of ef­fort here brings ev­ery­thing to­gether.

An in­ter­est­ing side ef­fect of the changes is that the on­line modes feel like the most ac­ces­si­ble to new play­ers, with spe­cial­i­sa­tions guid­ing their pro­gres­sion, load- outs keep­ing them equipped and kill cams help­ing them to learn new tech­niques.

Best of all this lat­est chap­ter of Halo feels worlds away from other shoot­ers on the mar­ket. With its jet­pack pow­ered ki­netic bat­tles, ve­hi­cle- based mis­sions, and flashy py­rotech­nics feel­ing more es­sen­tial than ever.

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