GAME OF THE WEEK

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES -

HALO 4 ★★★★★

16 cert, Mi­crosoft, Xbox It’s been a long time com­ing, but at last gamers have their hands on the lat­est in­stal­ment of Mas­ter Chief’s story. Cre­ator Bungie has stepped aside, and Halo 4 has been de­vel­oped by 343 In­dus­tries, a move that may have caused some ap­pre­hen­sion among hard­core fans of the se­ries.

The good news is that 343 hasn’t med­dled with a mas­ter­piece. Halo 4 is ev­ery­thing you loved about the orig­i­nal se­ries – fast-paced, ac­tion-great graph­ics, de­tailed en­vi­ron­ments, and a healthy dol­lop of at­mos­phere.

The ac­tion starts off with a stun­ning cin­e­matic scene that fills in some of the back story for the Halo se­ries, so even new­com­ers to the game can get right into it.

Mas­ter Chief (right) has been cool­ing his heels on board the For­ward Unto Dawn for four years, seven months and a few days, but a call from Cor­tana soon brings him out of it. The Covenant are back, al­though it’s a splin­ter group known as the Storm Covenant, and they’re just as trig­ger-happy as ever.

And to make things even more com­pli­cated, Cor­tana is suc­cumb­ing to “ram­pancy”, an af­flic­tion that hits all AI af­ter seven years; Mas­ter Chief is de­ter­mined to save her.

It all starts with an adren­a­line-pound­ing race through the Dawn as it gets sucked into the grav­ity field of the Fore­run­ner plant Re­quiem, crash­ing the Dawn and sev­eral other ships into the planet’s sur­face.

There’s a lot go­ing on here. Aside from the Storm Covenant, there’s also Prometheans to ward off. They’re smarter, so tougher to tackle but also more sat­is­fy­ing to tri­umph over. Knights, watch­ers, crawlers – get up to speed quickly with what each unit does or you’ll find your­self out of ammo and cor­nered be­fore long.

New en­e­mies also mean new weapons, which are in some way fa­mil­iar, so you won’t need too much time to learn their quirks.

The cam­paign builds up to a great cli­max, but once you’re done, there’s mul­ti­player to tackle as well, which is as bril­liant as ever. And if that’s not enough, get the DLC side mis­sions to keep you go­ing a bit longer.

CIARA O’BRIEN

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