This weeks free time has been dominated, of course, by Halo 4. Unfortunately, our landline broadband hasn't been installed yet, so I haven't been able to devote hours to the online game. As a result, I've probably spent longer on the campaign section.
After a couple uninspiring efforts (neither ODST or Reach were really authentic Halo games,) Halo 4 sees the return of Master Chief to centre stage, up against both the Covenant and the newly revealed Forerunner forces. 343 have managed to provide a proper Halo experience - the game feels like a Halo game. The level design, enemies and weapons are all have that authentic and the difficulty is scaled almost perfectly.
Sadly, the plot and pacing of the game are well below what was expected. The campaign starts off well enough, with a number of engaging set pieces and cut scenes. The big reveal a third of the way through is well handled and the framework is there for a great experience. Instead, the game trails off to a rather numb conclusion. No grand set piece, no panic, oddly, there isn't even much of a challenge.
Now I understand that the story in Halo 4 is revolves around the relationship and dependency between the Chief and Cortana, the conflict simply being the setting, but the sheer sense of anticlimax Halo 4 leaves you with is overwhelming. Think back five years ago to the first time you finished Halo 3; the soundtrack, the effects, the drama, the immense Warthog drive across the collapsing landscape. Halo 4 gives you the exact opposite experience. In a generic sci-fi shooter, I would have said the story was average. In a Halo game, extremely disappointing.
And another thing. The Warthog noise is all kinds of wrong. Reminds me of my first car - and that's not a good thing!
Still, the campaign is only part of the game. I've heard the online modes are classic Halo action, so I'm looking forward to that. In the interim, I may go back to the Halo 3 campaign for a more satisfying single player experience.