Halo 4 has long been lauded as one of the biggest games of 2012, marking the first foray from 343 Industries into Halo territory since Bungie Studios departed for the sandy shores of Activision last year.
Well, the game is finally in the hands of the players, so how does 343 Industries stack up as a Halo developer? Can there ever truly be a successor to Bungie, the studio that created Halo from the ground up? The short answer is no; 343 Industries isn't the same as Bungie, but they don't have to be. Halo 4 stands its ground as an amazing Halo game on its merits alone, without calling for comparison to previous games in the franchise.
343 Industries is breathing fresh air into a franchise that didn't even know it needed to be revitalized, and for that we salute them.
When Bungie Studios left Microsoft and Halo behind, we weren't sure how 343 Industries was going to be able to fill such big shoes. When Halo 4 was announced and the studio started discussing multiplayer, it became apparent that many of the features coming to Halo 4 were inspired by games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. For the first time, Halo was going to include things like custom loadouts, a default sprint button and a progressive system of unlocking and purchasing weapons in competitive multiplayer.
Was 343 Industries just converting Halo to nothing more than a Call of Duty clone? After so many years of standing on their own two feet, was this new studio ushering in an era of tasteless, vapid Halo games? If so, how would that carry over to the epic campaigns that we've come to expect in Halo games?
As development progressed, we were more and more excited by what we were seeing and the doubts receded to a place in the back of our minds.
Now that Halo 4 is finally here and we've spent a good many hours playing everything the game has to offer, all of our inhibitions have been completely vanquished. 343 Industries understands Halo. They understand the core of what makes a good Halo game, as well as where there are room for changes. The fundamentals are all here, and done with flawless precision.
Simply put, Halo 4 feels like a Halo game and that is exactly what we were worried about.
Keep reading for more on our first impressions with Halo 4.