The Halo series is probably one of the most repetitive and unchanging series I have ever played. The first 3 were pretty good and Reach and ODST made me fall asleep. With Bungie out of the picture and 343 Industries into the captain’s chair, I figured Halo may have some great new changes. I was half right. The single-player campaign is pretty fun and is as tough as nails. The new weapons are awesome to shoot and there are new enemies for once that are different. The story is convoluted and confusing, but hardcore fans may be able to follow it okay.
The mechanics are pretty much the same as previous Halo games. There are no iron sights, the game is fast-paced with high jumping and fast sprinting. There’s still no cover system which is a shame and the game is damn hard. I felt the story was a bit random and the environments felt the same way. One minute I’m shooting the same tired Covenant then these machines type aliens, then mutated Covenant, then regular Covenant. There were some vehicle sections and I was riding a giant vehicle. The game just felt all over the place, but it was fun at least.
The story is really confusing and never makes much sense. Something about Cortana being infected and a giant being called the Didact trying to destroy everything. It’s nothing fancy or sophisticated but you can’t expect much from an FPS. At least the game just feels tighter and a bit more heavy feeling and less floaty than other Halos. I felt the weapons had weight to them and the sheer variety had me switching them up all the time for different situations. I did find that there were repetitive scenarios throughout the whole game like jumping into stations to hit a button at the top and running back down to get to the next one. This scenario repeated often throughout the whole game and felt archaic and overly simple.
While the structured campaign felt old and tired the multiplayer is still the best part of Halo. The constantly updated match types make you come back for more all the time. The game feels faster-paced and just more fluid and balanced than any previous Halo game. Customization is deep for your avatar, there are many levels to climb, and the unlocks are sweet and rewarding. After you beat the Halo campaign just once I doubt you will ever go back because of how forgettable and repetitive it feels. I honestly think at this point Halo should just continue as a multiplayer-only game and maybe jump on board with PC.
The few little tweaks here and there help the game just become more balanced overall. The lack of dual-wielding makes the game feel more raw and “hardcore”, various adjustments in damage from each weapon and the increased damage for melee attacks are nice. I also love how great the game looks. This is the best-looking Xbox 360 game out and the voice acting and animations are so lifelike. However, the Xbox 360 doesn’t have the processing power as the PS3 so you won’t see The Last of Us quality textures and lighting effects. There are some ugly textures in Halo 4 and it really showed sometimes. Surprisingly there weren’t any slow down or glitches that plagued other Halo games.
Overall, Halo 4 is a great final opus for the 360 but isn’t the revolutionary new Halo like everyone thought. The campaign is repetitive, extremely difficult, and confusing, the story is so-so, but the multiplayer is where the meat of the game is at.
Halo 4 is the obvious winner here. With a humongous budget, Halo 4 is the first game in the series developed outside Bungie, and for good measure. The soundtrack is beautiful, the campaign is thrilling, and the multiplayer is better than ever. This isn’t just the best 360 game this year, but one of the best games period.
Shooters are typically overrated and never really change much from game to game. The best shooter usually has top of the line graphics, and tries to add something new to the genre, or is just really good.
Far Cry 3 game really close with Halo 4, but won overall due to the huge open world and top-notch DirectX 11 graphics on PC. It also just feels good to shoot people in this game. The guns feel good, the story is highly entertaining, and the game is just a lot of fun. If you pick one shooter to buy this holiday pick this!
Best multiplayer usually goes to a game that can bring something new to the table or just is done so well that you can’t stop playing. There were a lot of great multiplayer games, both competitive and co-op, but mostly they were all the same stuff we have played before. I personally had the most fun with Assassin’s Creed III this year, and the shooters were just more of the same. PlanetSide 2 was a serious contender due to its continent-sized maps and epic battles, but the enormous amounts of bugs and glitches and the fact that there’s no direction hampered it a lot.
AC3 is just so addictive because of the cat and mouse aspect. Hunting your target while trying not to be hunted just keeps you on edge through the match. You don’t know who’s who, and anyone can jump out and kill you. I wound up going back to AC3 more than any other multiplayer game this year. The customization is very deep, but that addictive on-the-edge-of-your-seat feeling you get can’t be found in any of these other games. Sure they are tense, but they feel the same. It is also nice to have a fun multiplayer game that isn’t a shooter.
Storytelling in games is probably the most important thing. Even if your game has good graphics if there’s nothing to follow why bother? There a few great games with good stories, but most of them were the endings to long-running series. These were the best of the bunch.
A great story isn’t just about plot twists or mystery. Being in suspense and actually giving you the option to make those twists and turns is revolutionary. The Walking Dead has a story that will tug at your heartstrings and even make you shed a tear or two. Being in total control also gives you multiple possibilities throughout the whole series. This is by far the best story this year, and I can’t wait for Season 2.
The best sound design consists of effects, music, voice acting, variety, and overall immersion accomplished through sounds. Ambiance has a huge factor as well. A lot of games these days sound really good, but the best will give you total immersion with background noises and little effects that don’t have to be there, but they are because the developers care that much.
The sound design in AC3 is just fantastic. The various accents, different languages used, the sound effects used in the Frontier such as the wind during snowstorms, the sounds of wildlife, then the bustling city sounds in the cities. The naval battles just pack a punch in your ears. The cannon fire, the various ship crew yelling things at each other, the sounds of the ocean. There is so much variety there and it is so crisp and clear. This is the best sounding game this year.
The atmosphere in a game is the overall immersion you get. You have to believe you are in the game and that the whole world is real, but also feel a part of it. There were a lot of games that pulled off some great atmosphere this year, so this category was tough. Most of the atmosphere this year was focused on realistic or futuristic settings. These were the best of them all.
Assassin’s Creed III really showed off the American Revolution and colonial times. The game really made you feel like you were there. The Frontier, Boston, and New York were both well designed as well as the costumes, accents, objects, and even the hunting! You just felt like you took a trip to the past. This was a tough choice over The Walking Dead, hell, all the games in this category were hard to choose from. This won due to the attention to detail and mainly because it is a setting and time period rarely explored in games.