Master Chief is back for another kick-ass outing, and we still keep misreading his name as Master Chef.
The Pitch: Master Chief’s triumphant return! Step into your Spartan armor and battle your long time enemies, the Covenant, as well as an entirely new race of baddies the likes of which the universe has never seen. Pow! Kazaam! Wrrrttsh! Etc!
What It Really Is: Where do we even start? Halo 4 is the next chapter in Master Chief’s futuristic struggle and, where Halo: ODST and Reach might have been excellent games in their own right (ok, ok, Reach more than ODST), Halo 4 boasts a campaign that simultaneously feels fresh without losing its identity at all. It’s a coup for 343 Studios in their first outing carrying the torch after the beloved Bungie passed it along. Gone is the tired Flood, replaced by a new Forerunner race that make the Covenant Elites look as powerful as pawns in a particularly unskilled chess game. New weapons and vehicles litter maps, just waiting for you to snatch them up and pull the trigger for some fantastical fireworks, but that doesn't mean the game is relying on gimicks: Not only is gameplay tight and quick, the story will thoroughly grip you as it fleshes out emotional moments in glorious detail. Achievements are there for your solo trek through the campaign, but Halo 4 now allows four-player co-op through that same campaign, and we recommend tackling it on a Heroic setting or better because, in the future, balls are made of crazy technological alloys that are much harder than steel.
Maxim.com Ready-Made Press Blurb: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder and, if you heart’s not warmed the moment Chief flutters opens his eyes, you probably don’t have one.” -Maxim.com
Fun Fact: Halo 4 brings with it the debut of Spartan Ops, a weekly episodic DLC that continues the story of the Halo universe in a way that’s reminiscent of tuning into your favorite TV show. This is a first not just for the Halo series, but for video games as a whole, and it’s a format we hope more games choose to follow. It’s free for the first season, so get in now before 343 realizes what a gem it is.
Special Edition: Halo 4’s limited edition game comes with the Halo 4 game (duh), the 90-minute extended version of Halo: Forward Unto Dawn movie, three future map packs via Xbox Live (nine maps total), in-game armor and weapon skins, an emblem for your profile, a prop and spartan armor for your Xbox Live avatar and six specializations to help further your Spartan career. Of course, there’s also the incredibly badass Limited Edition Halo 4 branded Xbox 360, decked out in Forerunner colorways that comes with two special edition controllers that match the console and the beefiest guts of all the Xboxes, hiding under the hood.
Who’s It For: Halo 4 really does sport all the bells and whistles you’d expect of a blockbuster video game in 2012. There’s a major solo campaign full of characters you care about more than certain family members, ample opportunity to play online co-op with friends (or intense deathmatches with enemies), customizations galore, a deep sense of community thanks to Halo Waypoint and much, much more to come via Spartan Ops. Anyone who says video game addicts can’t be well-rounded obviously haven’t been recruited for the UNSC...and we’re not sure we’d want them anyway.