The first day of E3 kicked things off right. Amidst all of the beautiful and exciting new games that were shown off today, one in particular caught my eye: Halo 4.
Being a long time Bungie Halo fan I had kind of said good bye to this much beloved franchise of mine. I knew 343 would do a fine job with the series but it wouldn’t be same without the Bungie community I had grown to love and had become a part of over the years. When Bungie departed Halo it felt like my parents had just had a divorce and 343 was my new step-parent. So with that in mind I set out to end my Halo career with Reach and savor what I thought would be my last Halo game.
But as time progressed and Halo 4 details started to leak out I found myself once again become enthralled in the series I had spent way too much of my life playing. I had come to love and accept my new step-parent. And with the demo today during E3 I find my passion for the game as strong as ever.
The first thirty seconds of the demo had me sold. The demo starts out with a short cinematic that surprisingly reminiscent of the 2007 Halo 3 E3 trailer and from there proceeds to game play in a dark jungle again drawing connections to the first level of Halo 3. Seeing this and watching the Chief move through the underbrush once again with the Battle Rifle in hand and hearing Cortana guide him comforted me by really demonstrating that this was the franchise I loved so much. While significantly more stunning and beautiful than the prior games it definitely was still Halo. We quickly see him encounter and dispatch of some covenant in some stylish new garb and my spirits absolutely soared when the Elite bellowed out an all too familiar “wort, wort, wort”.
But building a game that was still Halo wasn’t all 343 set out to do. The old trilogy had come to a conclusion and it is time for something new in the series. Right off the get go you can tell it’s a new and different game. The opening cinematic shows off Master Chief’s new armor better than ever and what once looked foreign and different now looks absolutely bad ass and fitting. The enemies, the world around him, and the HUD all looked smoother and sleeker, cleaner and more detailed. It all maintained that Halo style and feel while moving forward and progressing the game. The design and visuals aren’t all that’s new in the game though.
The Chief trudges on and quickly encounters the games new enemies. The new enemies are Forerunner technology, AI defense systems with golden lights and hues to perfectly contrast the Covenants neon purples. These first enemies he encounters are clearly the weaker of the bunch, reminiscent of small robot dogs, all easily disposed and not that intimidating. As he starts mowing down a second wave I started thinking these guys don’t pose much of a challenge, these have got to be the Grunts of the new enemy type.
But what about the Elites? Almost on cue, the Elite unit drops in. You don’t get too close of a look at it before this large and terrifying unit opens up its face to reveal a molten gold skull and roars in your face. Intimidation and challenge were lacking in the smaller enemies but it is not the case here. As you proceed to battle this new beast you quickly realize that this is a completely new enemy that requires a completely new attack plan. These golden AI are equipped with powerful golden lasers (which the Chief is able to wield) and are able to teleport and move incredibly fast. If this wasn’t enough, they are also able to dispatch a flying unit which assists them in raining fire down upon you, shielding the enemy, calling in more bad guys, and throwing the grenades you lob at it right back in your face.
As Brendan mentioned in his E3 Day 1 Wrap Up these new enemies and the games new style at this point are incredibly reminiscent of Metroid. The best way to describe the new Elite unit would be to call it a Space Pirate mixed with a bit of Crysis’ Ceph and topped off with some golden hues. The other new AI enemies as well seem like something straight out a Metroid game. In no way is this a bad thing though. Metroid did an incredible job designing its enemies and seeing that in the Halo 4’s new antagonists provides us with a small sense of familiarity in this terrifying yet foreign enemy.
The similarities to Metroid continue as the demo comes to the end seeing the countless enemy AI swarm upon him through a green mist with the aid of his new thermal visor. We have seen enhanced visors in Halo before but not of this complexity and intricacy. This will also be the first time this useful tool will be available in multi-player.
I came into this E3 with mild interest in Halo 4 but after day 1 I am leaving with an excitement for Halo 4 that I have become all too familiar with prior to a Halo release. All of my doubts in 343 were thrown right out the window. In this 5 minute demo 343 have shown that they were able to make new game that is still 100% Halo while still adding enough new things in to spice things up. This is hands down the prettiest of all Halo games to date and the new enemies look like they are going to be some of the most terrifying yet the most fun to hit the series in quite some time. Getting a glimpse of the Chiefs new visor and arsenal have got me itching to lay some fiery golden lasers into some Covenant and AI faces alike. I came into this demo biased and with unrealistically high expectations and came away absolutely stunned and blown away. I am absolutely stoked for Halo 4 in a way I haven’t been in quite some time.
Check out the demo below!