16 cert, Microsoft, Xbox *****
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 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.