343 takes Halo franchise in a new direction

Microsoft Studios/Courtesy

When Microsoft announced a new “Halo” last June, to say I was skeptical would be an understatement. I’ve put countless hours (probably more than I’d like to admit) into the last installment, “Halo: Reach,” and enjoyed every minute of it. After Bungie’s incredible original “Halo” trilogy and prequel, I didn’t think the rookie company 343 Industries would be up to the challenge to deliver a new experience while still keeping up a pedigree of immersive and wholesome gaming. But after seeing the game previewed at E3 in Los Angeles, I’m beginning to see the light.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of 343’s approach is the integration of competitive multiplayer, campaign and co-op play. By introducing the UNSC space frigate Infinity during single campaign, they effectively broke the barriers between the modes by creating a base where Spartan II’s (weaker yet still badass Spartans) train for missions through simulated war-games. To sweeten the deal, 343 has promised weekly episodes in Spartan Ops, where Spartan II’s will take on the Covenant, a massive alien confederation with a vendetta against humans, and a new threat, the Prometheans.

While 343 has kept its lips sealed on the plotline for the campaign, it revealed a new class of enemies called the Prometheans. The Prometheans are a non-organic threat, created by a god-like race referred to as the Forerunners, who promise to keep campaign battles fresh and exciting. New enemies like the Promethean Knight, essentially a huge mech that deals death and despair, and the Watcher, which has a similar vibe to Sentinels from “Halo 3,” promise a new challenge for gamers to conquer.

However, the most dazzling aspect of the new game is the graphics. The graphics, like a plasma grenade to the face, will blow your mind. It’s apparent that the designers put a lot of love into the new game, as the world looks like something out of a national geographic magazine and the armor is detailed down to the tiniest scratches.

“Halo 4” may be a letdown. It may ruin an entire generation of games. But it could also be one of the best in the series yet. Good luck 343.