When it came to Halo 4, there was every reason to doubt 343 Industries, after all, the pressure was immense. How could anyone expect a brand new developer, regardless of how many industry vets had been assembled, to deliver a fitting successor to Microsoft’s most revered franchise, let alone an amazing game that sits as one of the best of the year? But somehow, someway, 343 got it right.
Halo 4 pushes the series forward with its narrative delivery. The game provides Master Chief and Cortana with a depth to their characters that has never been there prior and 343 has woven a strikingly emotional tale. Granted we’re not talking Lee and Clementine type emotion but if you don’t get a little choked up over how events unfold at the end you may well have a broken emotional core.
Still 343 could have done all the narrative loop de loops they wanted and it wouldn’t have meant jack squat if the gameplay didn’t live up to the level of other Halo titles. Halo 4 easily lives up to its past with excellent encounter design, smart enemies and simply the best shooting available on a console. Simply put it is a Halo game and that means greatness. But what makes Halo 4 extra-special is what 343 has done with its multiplayer components, both competitive and cooperative. Competitive play saw major adjustments to the Halo formula that evolves the title in new and interesting ways, while at the same time being as finely balanced as it has previously and, while less of a leap forward, Halo 4’s cooperative play proves that episodic content can be weekly and engaging when done correctly. Simply put, Halo 4 is the total package.
-Chris Scott, Reviews Editor
Runner-Up: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
There is one shooter that not only met all of my expectations this year, but exceeded them (note: I have not played the aforementioned Halo 4) – Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Out of all of the shooters I played this year, Future Soldier packed both a solid campaign AND a hearty multiplayer. The campaign featured sandbox environments that offered a small variety of options for completing. I will admit, the story didn’t grab me until about two-thirds of the way in, but once the finale was in play, I was engrossed in what was going on.
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s stronger point is the tactical multiplayer. The last game I played that made me feel compelled to play with a strong tactical sense was SOCOM: Confrontation. It’s only taken a few years, but it felt good to play a game in that frame of mind again. Future Solider has great maps, a fantastic progression system (the “Gunsmith”), and it simply gives you the urge to play as a team, something so many other games lack.
Sure, Call of Duty: Black Ops II has modified it’s gameplay enough to call it a new game. And sure, Medal of Honor: Warfighter had an interesting, albeit complicated, progression system. But after Halo 4, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier takes the runner-up position with ease.
-Don Parsons, PR Manager