Halo 4 Hands-on Comic-Con 2012 Preview -- Spartan Ops and War Games (and No Matthew Broderick in Sight)By Kevin Kelly - Posted Jul 16, 2012
Halo 4 marks the first time that 343 Industries will be taking over the development reins from Bungie, and it definitely shows. For better or for worse, this Halo feels unlike any of those that have come before it. While it is still undeniably set in the world of Halo, longtime players will immediately recognize the fact this is a new model. Once you kick the tires and take it for a spin, it will still feel familiar, but different at the same time.
Two of the multiplayer modes that were showcased at San Diego Comic-Con 2012 were the four-player co-op episodic Spartan Ops, and the multiplayer deathmatch in the virtual reality training War Games. While Spartan Ops represents a big departure for the Halo series by offering weekly, episodic missions to play through, War Games will most assuredly see the most action with players logging on just to kill as many of their fellow players as they can.
In either mode, what you will immediately notice is that Master Chief has weight. He feels heavy, and to use a sports car analogy, he doesn't turn on a dime. He's more akin to driving a chunky SUV than a lithe Italian racer, and you won't find him nearly as nimble as you remember. Aiming is also less forgiving, and picking off opponents with the Battle Rifle or the DMR isn't as easy. Grenades are also less powerful, which means less explosive spam death from enemies you can't even see.
Physically, your spartan can now sprint by clicking on the left thumbstick, which is a nice addition as previously you had to slot in the Sprint armor ability to boost your ground speed. Melee attacks also have a lot more oomph to them, and you can launch people quite some distance if you time your strikes right. You'll gain some new armor abilities too, including the new Promethean Vision that allows you to see through objects at a short distance, and is handy for picking out enemies that are trying to sneak up on you.
Your HUD is busier also, with red arrows indicating the exact direction you are taking fire from, rather than just a hub on a ring, and radar indicators will now clearly let you know if an enemy is above or below you. On the left side of the screen, a small box in a circle that gradually fills with your kills indicates an ordnance drop, and once full, you can choose from three random powers ranging from weapons to abilities, and it will hurtle down from the sky somewhere near you. Make sure you get to it first, however, as it can be stolen if you aren't careful.
Most of the familiar weapons are back, and with the addition of Forerunner weapons, you'll have a lot to choose from. A personal favorite is the Forerunner Scattershot shotgun which, like all Forerunner weapons, assembles itself in front of you when you pick it up. The Scattershot is best at close range, and you can reflect shots off of surfaces to disintegrate your enemies.
Our deathmatches all took place on Haven, a map set in a Forerunner facility. It's a completely new map that features a ring of corridors below a central platform which can be accessed via ramps or gravity lifts. It's a great map for small matches, and with randomly dropped weapons throughout it means everyone won't be crowding the plasma sword or rocket launcher locations.
We've only had a small taste of Halo 4's multiplayer, but what we've seen has been impressive. The game feels so new, down to the entirely different chattering sound that the assault rifle makes, and we can't wait to see what else 343 has done with this franchise.