I’m strangely excited about Halo 4. The excitement I’m sure you understand, but why should that be strange? I mean, we’re talking about a massive holiday season release, continuing the franchise that single-handedly launched Microsoft into the console business. But the thing is, I’m not much of a Halo player.
I never owned an Xbox during those early years. My love for the original PlayStation turned into my love for the PS2, so I never saw the need to purchase Microsoft’s system. Maybe if I’d spent more time playing GoldenEye on N64, I would have been more fond of first person shooters, but I had plenty of games to keep me occupied during the early 2000s.
There’s something about this new Halo game that’s attracting me, though. It’s not my need to continue the story, nor my urge to destroy rivals in multiplayer, but for some reason I’m really looking forward to its Tuesday launch. What could that reason be?
Maybe I’m remembering my Halo 3 experience. For you see, I have played a Halo game before. It was after an extended vacation, when money was so tight I couldn’t afford to buy anything, nor pay the internet bill. During this unfortunate time, I was given a copy of Halo 3 – a newly-released game that I had little interest in playing. With nothing else to occupy my time, and no connection to Xbox Live, I popped in the disc and gave it a go. Turned out, it was kind of fun.
Over the next few weeks, I single-handedly battled through Heroic mode, then Legendary. I never bothered with normal, as I’d heard that Heroic was the real difficulty to start on. The sci-fi shooter had a lot going for it, and while it may have looked like an Xbox 1 game, it was still an enjoyable experience. I had no idea what was going on in the story, but that didn’t really seem to matter.
Soon, my bills were up-to-date, and my precious internet connection was switched back on. This gave me a chance to try out Halo’s famous multiplayer. It turns out that after many years of practice, most of the players were pretty good. I, on the other hand, totally sucked. However, I could see why people enjoyed this experience so much, and I got a genuine thrill from the occasional match that I actually won.
All the Halo 4 hype has brought back memories of this surprisingly-fun time in my life. But could this be the only reason I’m excited about the new game? To be honest, I’ve been intrigued ever since I saw the first gameplay video at this year’s E3. “Another Halo game….” I thought to myself when the video started, but it ended up being rather exciting. It seemed somehow new, fresh, and far more interesting than previous instalments.
Maybe it’s the new studio involved. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft should be kissing Bungie’s feet for delivering Halo to them, but some young blood behind the wheel isn’t always a bad thing. No company wants to be locked into the same franchise for all of eternity, so having 343 Studios take over could be just what’s needed to bring the spark back into the series. Bungie put a lot of time and effort into their flagship shooter, so this switch in development could have been tragic, but from what I’ve seen, things are turning out pretty good.
Of course, my excitement could stem from the awesome promotional material Microsoft have been using to build up the game. I’m talking primarily about Forward Unto Dawn, the live-action series that’s been airing on YouTube over the last month. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure exactly how much of it would appeal to me, not being a big fan of the games, but I thoroughly enjoyed the mini series. Despite my lack of real context, it still brought a smile to my face when I saw a real Warthog driving around, and the first time a Plasma Sword appeared on screen. The Covenant’s appearance was both terrifying and awe inspiring, but none of this could match the reveal of the Chief himself.
Yes, Master Chief, the Xbox mascot if ever there was one. When he took the stage in Forward Unto Dawn, I sat forward in my seat and allowed the grin to spread on my face. It’s not that I have a big connection with this character, but somehow his persona has managed to infect my psyche, and once he appeared on the stage, I knew everything would be okay. I suppose his mystique could be a part of it. After all, we really have no idea who he is (unless that’s revealed in one of the Halo books), and this creates a more-than-human aura around him. We don’t know what he’s thinking or feeling, but somehow he’s managed to invade our collective consciousness and become a memorable video game character.
Over the last few days, reviews have started to appear for Halo 4, and these could also be a part of my excitement. It seems as though this chapter in the franchise may be the best one yet, as many critics have praised the direction 343 have taken the series. After 10 years, many franchises have passed their peak, but Halo has a new beginning and hasn’t squandered the opportunity to start again. I’m even tempted to purchase the earlier Halo games, in order to catch up on the story and give myself perspective when battling through the new one.
I suppose that my excitement for Halo 4 may be a combination of all of these aspects. They’ve built up over time, and a game that I couldn’t care less about at the start of the year has slowly become something I can’t wait for. It’s been a busy year, and I haven’t had the chance to play half of the titles I’ve wanted to, but I know I’ll make time for this one. With the hectic holiday schedule ahead, who would have known that Master Chief’s latest adventure would be a circle on my calendar? I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I’m
strangely really excited about Halo 4.
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