Gears of Halo - Video game reviews, news and cosplay

Halo and Destiny - news and reviews.

Tuesday, November 27

Bungie release Destiny screen shot after a leak

destiny-screenshot-bungie-tank

Woah! Finally an official thing from Bungie on their new game, Destiny.

Following a massive leak of images and details to IGN gaming site, Bungie responded with an official release of this screen shot stating:

"Go ahead. Take a peek. It’s alright. We weren't quite ready, but we will be soon, and we can’t wait to finally show you what we've really been up to.
Stick around, we haven’t even started yet."

The screenshot shows an awesomely curved tank / battle gun of some kind, foot soldiers bearing arms and a landscape setting that appears to be er... snowbound.

Spartan Ops and Co-op Lag Explained by CruelLEGACEY


The  CruelLEGACEY explains why some people experience 'lag' when playing Halo 4:

Issue: Lag during Spartan Ops and co-op campaign.

Halo 4 uses 2 different network models for online play. Spartan Ops and Co-op run on a “synchronous” network model. Let’s say you are playing 4-player co-op. One player is the “host”, the other 3 are “clients”. All 4 players load the level, and all 4 players start the mission at the same time. Now, when a “client” presses a button, such as ‘jump’, their Xbox sends a signal to the “host” Xbox, telling it what the client player is doing. The host Xbox receives these signals from all 3 clients, then calculates every movement, bullet fired, damage done, etc, and sends the updated information out to all the clients, who’s Xboxs then reproduce the changes. But, the host will only send out these updates when it has received signals from all 3 clients. It does this to maintain accurate and consistent information across all 4 players (In other words, all 4 players are seeing the same things in the same places at the same time).

This is where the lag comes in: If just one of the players in the game has a bad connection, it slows down their ability to send information to the host, which means the host has to wait longer before it can send out gameplay updates to the other players. So, even if you are a client with a great connection, and the host has a great connection, you can still get major lag if one of the other clients has a slow connection.

This is experienced as a sort of input delay (the game will not instantly react to your button presses).

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Check the link for more details on War Games an multiplayer modes.

Tuesday, November 20

Casey asks should Mass Effect 4 be a sequel or prequel?

Bioware's Casey Hudson asks should Mass Effect 4 be a sequel or prequel? 



The correct answer is:

Sequel*
*no further correspondence will be entered into on this matter

A look at how Halo 4's environment was designed

Polycount has a sweet article with Halo 4's Environment Creators which gives a fantastic insight into the development of the game. If you've played the game, I'm sure you'll agree they did an amazing job.

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What you’re about to read is a very generous peek into the work of some of the Game Industry’s strongest Environment Creators doing what they do best: Dropping Jaws and Melting Faces. Some protective gear is recommended. Please observe all emergency exits. We cannot be responsible for any messes that occur, or any injuries sustained through wild head turns and furious image saving.

We had some enormous challenges; Building a new team from nothing, charging through the growing pains of a new studio, wrestling with unfamiliar and unsupported technology, learning to work together for the first time, and taking over a beloved universe and all the world wide scrutiny that came with it. Any one of these things would have crippled a normal studio. Not us. We took our share of bruises, but we stepped over the finish line ‘better, faster, stronger’ than a decade of normal development would have awarded us.

The environment team, on top of simply making great imagery, also took on the role of storytellers. It doesn’t just show, it feels. Engaging the goopy, sloppiest part of the players parietal lobes and making the universe a reality, immersing the player in a deep felt experience. The art is emotional, it resonates with story and imagination, it silently speaks to you.

This is art focused, but salutes need to be thrown at the talented teams who fought dragons and the laws of physics to squeeze out more polygons and pixels, who gave us every technical advantage possible, who held our hair back when it was too much. The Xbox didn’t know what hit it.

This team is not made of Steel. It’s made of the crazy strong shit you hire to hunt Steel when Steel messes up and needs to be returned to Steel Justice.

You can probably tell – I’m very proud of this team.
Kenneth Scott,  Senior Art Director

UNSC – A FUNCTIONAL AESTHETIC


For the first mission of the game the general theme of the industrial design was “space submarine.” We wanted to achieve a functional aesthetic for the UNSC environments.  After the catastrophic damage sustained to the Forward Unto Dawn at the end of Halo 3, and after floating in outer space for over three years, the majority of the remains of the ship were left a frozen, shattered hulk. For the mission itself we wanted it to be cold and claustrophobic; piles of frost have accumulated in the cryogenics section of the ship; ceilings have caved in and some areas of the ship have lost atmospheric pressure.  The environments would also get progressively more damaged as the ship was sucked into the forerunner planet Requiem. The cool color palette would  give way to warmer tones as the events of the mission increased in intensity, culminating in an exciting start to the rest of the campaign.
Paul Pepera, Lead Mission Artist

Thursday, November 15

The best ever Leeloo cosplay?

leeloo-cosplay-costume

I spied this at Scruffy Rebel wondered if it was the best Leeloo cosplay ever done. For those that don't recognise this bright haired beauty, she was a key character in the film The Fifth Element.  Leeloo was played by Milla Jocovich who has gone on to become a one woman army in the Resident Evil series.



Don't agree this is the best cosplay ever? Check out more Leeloo costumes at Post Game Lobby.

Halo 4 stats - you better finish your Legendary run eh?


Now that the evil has awakened and been out in the wild for a week, here's some statistics on how Halo 4 has been played. They are pretty impressive, for any kind of video game.

  • Over four million people played Halo 4 on Xbox LIVE in the first five days.
  • 13.5 million hours were spent playing Campaign in the first five days.
  • 1.9 million hours were spent playing Spartan Ops in the first five days.
  • 16 million hours were spent playing War Games in the first five days.
  • 31.4 million hours were spent playing Halo 4 in the first five days.
  • 1,116,882 people completed the Campaign in the first five days.
  • 6% of total players completed the Campaign on Legendary in the first five days.
  • 43,335,060 achievements were unlocked in the first five days.
  • 2,675,140,836 kills were earned in Campaign in the first five days.
  • 505,250,095 kills were earned in Spartan Ops in the first five days.
  • 1,410,025,354 kills were earned in War Games in the first five days.
  • 4,590,416,285 kills were earned playing Halo 4 on Xbox LIVE in the first five days.

Source: Halo Waypoint

Check out this review of Halo 6.

Bad luck Diadact



As spied on Reddit.

Tuesday, November 13

Xbox Live's 10 Year anniversary will make some punters VERY HAPPY

xbl-xbox-anniversary-tweet

Larry has suggested via twitter that long term xbox live users might be in for a free xbox to celebrate the 10 Year anniversary of the gaming service. Larry also hinted there might be a competition for everyone else to win some Xbox swag as well. 



Monday, November 12

The first Halo 4 mythbusters video is out



Mythbusters for Halo 4 is out now for your view pleasure. Not sure how a Mantis riding a Scorpion makes for great game play but there you go.....

Mass Effect 4 will be made by Canada and will be in French

I think this picture is of some rabid Mass Effect fans doing cosplay of the Montreal staff.
Mass Effect 4 will be made by Canada and will be in French

Yanick Roy the Studio Director of BioWare Montreal has formally announced on the Bioware blog that his studio is where the magic will happen for the next Mass Effect game. You'll be able to judge if they'll be any good as they are the team that did the Omega DLC.

Here's some clipped paragraphs from what he had to say:

Because BioWare has always believed that the company culture is one of the key ingredients of the games we make, we took two important steps with the team. First, we deliberately seeded the new studio with many transfers from Edmonton. Second, we chose to grow the team relatively slowly, allowing new people to join the team and integrate into its culture in due time. Even with that approach, though, the Montreal studio has made significant contributions to the Mass Effect franchise. We started by building about half the cinematics for ME2, then most of its N7 missions, and finally we played an important role in the development of much of its post-release content. 

Then on ME3, we took charge of the multiplayer portion as well as making significant contributions to the single-player campaign. Most recently, we built a large piece of DLC that will be released on November 27 and that you know under the name of Omega. With each new portion of work, we took on deeper and broader responsibilities, but we always worked in conjunction with Casey, the Mass Effect leads, and the developers in Edmonton.

That evolution now takes its next step, with the news that the next Mass Effect game is already in development, driven by the team here in Montreal. This is the goal we have been working toward for years now, and every member of our team is proud, excited, and humbled to take on the responsibility for the next game.

To ensure a proper and effective transition, we’ll continue to be supported by the Edmonton studio through the game’s development, working with and learning from them on some critical initiatives. On top of that, Casey remains the Executive Producer, but he will have a Project Director under him, working in Montreal, leading our development team and making day-to-day decisions for the game. We all care very much about Mass Effect and make our decisions based on what’s best for the game.

Sunday, November 11

How to grenade glitch in Halo 4

This video by the Halo Council's Clicked shows you how to glitch your way to more accurate grenade throwing in Halo 4 matchmaking.



How do you do the glitch? Simply aim, throw the grenade and then sprint.


Friday, November 9

Where are Halo 4's easter eggs found?

What are the Easter Eggs that can be found in Halo 4

You know what an easter egg is right? No? In gaming terms and Easter Egg is a nod of some kind, a hidden message, an in joke or reference. Bungie placed eggs in all of their Halo games, the most famous perhaps being a piece of music called The Seige of Madgril' which can be found when standing in certain, out of the way locations.

Here's what 343 Industries put into Halo 4 and how to find them.

Here's a sweet video which shows plenty of eggs:



Dr Halsey's Audi Log on Rampancy

As you first land on Requiem, you will come across a crash site of Covenant Cruisers. If one keeps to the left long enough one will find the way out. Those who chose to explore the site are rewarded with an audio log of Dr. Catherine Halsey discussing the inevitability of A.I. rampancy or rather how perhaps Cortana might be able to over come the issue. Halsey was the lady in handcuffs at the start of the game - she's the one who created the Spartan programme.

Check out this youtube video to hear Halsey speak.


Here’s quite a cool easter egg that was recently found in Halo 4.

A set of doors have a false reflection, in that they show some scenes from Tsavo Highway which keen Halo players may recognise from the third game of the series.



Spartans burnt into the wall

After the Master Chief exits the covenant crash site and steps into the sunlight, a mountain path littered with Warthogs extends out to the left Look to the right instead - edge of the cliffs stands an outcropping of rock with a rather unusual tree and a metal framework.



Manoevure to the lower ledge at which point you may look up at what appears to be a series of burn marks across the structure. You'll see what could be a Spartan portrait.

Double Rainbow

Following completion of the first section of the ‘Reclaimer’ mission, the Mammoth will traverse a river nearby a waterfall. When the Mammoth halts, check out the double rainbow.

Conan O'Brien does a voice cameo

Conan did some early promo work for Halo 4 - an no wonder as he managed to get himself included in the game. On the Shutdown mission, Conan can be found as a soldier chatting about being in the military in the UNSC warehouse. The other soldier is Andy Richter.

Master Chief Helmet as a structure on a building

On the first mission, at the part when you're outside in space, this building looks a little like the Master Chief's Helmet:



I took this picture with my iphone in a dark room so the quality is poor. 

Halo 4 Collectors edition found on the floor of the Foward Unto Dawn



On the FUD, check out the floor in the area where the Covenant board - you'll spy in the floor a copy of the Collector's edition of Halo 4 - that's very meta.

Suggested eggs but don't really count

Sergeant Johnson Egg on Shutdown level.


This is the dude and it doesn't look like Avery. At all. 
If you kill a lot of marines in the hanger bay that houses the Pelicans, eventually a black marine will spawn. Some claim this is Sergeant Johnson but frankly it looks nothing like him.


Halo 3 Launch Trailer  - note haven't checked this one out yet. 

In the prologue cinematic there is a brief shot where the Master Chief takes down a Brute Chieftan. That is apparently following on from the end of the Halo 3 launch trailer where Master Chief jumps into a pack of heavily armed Brutes.

Vic Deleon's V's in Spartan Op's Sniper Alley



 Level Artist for the Halo series, Vic Deleon placed a few scratched out 'V' into the Sniper Alley Spartan Ops mission. The V is presumably his initial.

Follow Vic on twitter here









JJ Reviews: Halo 4

Spoilers !

The Big Green Guy
Halo 4. You may have heard of it?

Despite the game being illegal to offer for sale on opening day in New Zealand, I'd managed to get a copy in the morning of launch day and proceeded to play it over the next three nights on the normal setting.

No disrespect to the makers of the prior Halo games Bungie, Halo 4 is the game that Halo: Reach should have been, that is to say a direct continuation of the story that was 'finished' in Halo 3. And why do I say that? Because Halo is about the Master Chief and this is a Halo game!

The gist of Halo 4 is the Master Chief has found himself on a planet of Forerunner design where an entity known as the Diadact is pretty darn keen to destroy humanity and it's up to John117 and his rampant companion, Cortana to save the universe one more time.

The opening vignette is a bold statement by 343 Industries. Featuring Dr Halsey being interrogated or interviewed (depending on your point of view as she's hand cuffed) by an unknown agent seemingly intent on getting some unknown truth out of her about the Spartan programme and the Master Chief. It's one of the most foreboding starts to a Halo game ever presented, bringing a story angle that's only ever been addressed in the wider Halo universe via novels and firmly places the context of the game as being about John117. It's also 343 saying, hey we can do the most amazing animation that's ever been done for an Xbox game. If the Xbox 360 is nearing the end of it's life then may it's death be swift so that all future games can look this good!

Plot wise, Halo 4 is pretty simple in that it's just a race around the park trying to figure out how to stop the Diadact, saving a few soldiers here and there, taking down a Covenant armada there and battling the Promethean army (which turn out to be some kind of enslaved humans), oh and hunting down the Diadact.

One thing that puzzled me and I'm sure to figure it out on a second run through is why the so called Covenant Zealots had come to Requiem, unless I missed something it was explained too well.

It was nice to meet the Librarian after learning about her in Greg Bear's Forerunner novels

The mechanics of Halo as we know it are all there - the meelee, the grunts with useless aim, grenades, DMR headshots and the new and improved assassination from behind are extremely fun to get back into.

Some of the set pieces were quite brilliant - very late in the game we visit a Halo installation where we have to hold of a significant push by the Covenant using a Mantis. It's epic and will challenge any seasoned Halo player on the Legendary setting and serves an example that the new makers of Halo know a thing or two about making video games.


For this player, the graphics are the true highlight of the game. Video cut scenes are brilliant, Cortana and the Chief are amazingly drawn characters. Cortana has been given a vibrant feel (she's well acted too by Jen Taylor) and the Chief's verdant greens are a stand out  You may recall level Sierra 117 from Halo 3 were the Chief runs through a forest to save Johnson. The forests in this iteration of Halo makes that level look like it was done in crayon by a blind person. It's just marvellous.

To promote Halo 4 a whole lot of concept art was released and it was simply fantastic to walk around a corner and boom - there were the structures and ideas that had been my desktop screen come to life in game.

The music of the game was pretty cool. To repeat the original Halo themes without Marty O'Donnell at the helm would probably have been a mistake so 343 Industries went with Neil Davidge who has produced some excellent music which did a fine job of setting a new tone for the franchise. At times I felt the music I was listening to was the sound of the planet Reqiuem such was the wonderful atmosphere it helped generate. I hope Davidge gets to go another round on Halo as I think he's quite good.,

I think Halo 3 is my favourite Halo game as it came out at the apex of my Halo multiplayer mania and it 'finished the fight'. This new Halo is probably the best Halo thus far in the sense that every previous element or mechanism that I came across in game has been improved apon, the graphics are amazing and the Master Chief has been made into a real character with a touch of humanity about him as opposed to the automaton that he arguably was in say Halo 2.

The ending of the game features a awesome trench run of sorts in a Broad Sword, a game of hide and seek and an ending that had a touch of tragedy about it and the moment when that occurs is arguably the defining moment of who the Master Chief really is.

One can only wonder what will be in store for the Big Green Guy - there's a lot of Covenant still out there and that planet Requiem sure was interesting......

Thursday, November 8

Tell Casey what you want in ME3


Casey Hudson asks via twitter what we want to see for the next Mass Effect game.

Two things Casey:

Quality writing, reviewed by an expert.

A sequel, not a prequel. 

Thanks and have a nice day.


How to use forge in Halo 4 - video tutorial




Here's a video on how to use forge in Halo 4 prepared for you by the team that made it, Certain Affinity (who are no strangers to helping out on Halo related content).

In their words:

This video covers the basics of editing using Forge in Halo 4. We'll quickly build a simple Mongoose racetrack using Duplicate, Magnets, and Rotation Snap. People new to Forge should leave with a better idea of how to use Forge, while those more experienced will get a taste of the new features that make editing in Forge faster than ever before.

Wednesday, November 7

This is the evil that awakened in Halo 4

diadact-halo

Meet the Diadact, the bad guy of Halo 4 and the ever loving husband of the Librarian.

The Didact was a Forerunner Promethean who held an extremely high status in the Forerunner society as supreme commander of the entire Forerunner military. There's a huge back story but eventually he took control of the body of Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting (refer Halo: Cryptum) and set about laying plans to finish off the Halo programme.

By the time the Diadact finally meets the Master Chief in Halo 4, his actions across the milenia have seen him defined as the bad guy of the Halo universe.



Meet the Librarian from Halo 4

librarian halo 4
Do you have some books to return young man?
After being first mentioned in the Terminals that were found in Halo 3, the Librarian has loomed large in the back story of Halo, effectively acting as humanity's guardian angel, working to counter the after effects of the Human - Forerunner War, the battle to protect the Universe from the Flood and finally the actions of the Diadact.

The Forerunner novels Cyrptum and Primordium showed the Librarian has one of the central characters of the Halo realm, so to finally see what she looks like in Halo 4 is nothing short of a great moment in Halo gaming history.

This image of the Librarian taken is a great example of just how far Xbox game design has come - you may recall one of the biggest criticisms of Halo 3 (and ODST) was just how bad human faces were represented. The characters in Halo 4 are just amazingly detailed. 


Tuesday, November 6

Destiny titbits revealed by Demonware accidentally

Click in the image for the big picture. 


It's being hailed as a massive leak but it's not really. It's a post from some dude who works for a firm called Demonware who got to attended Bungie Day and hear all about the new Destiny game.

There's no real specifics here, everything is mentioned in a broad, passing sense.

Still, Bungie will be pissed this kind of thing was disclose, probably in breach of an NDA.

To err is human; to curb stomp an Elite, divine


halo4-fan-artwork-mantis

Neogaf member highlaw drew this wicked fan art inspired by Halo 4 - featuring the Mantis wreaking havoc on an elite who is surely out for the count.

Halo Street art, filmed as it's made



Epicness of the Chief!

Monday, November 5

When a Halo game launches in New Zealand...

chief giving copy of halo 4

When a Halo game launches in New Zealand, the Master Chief personally gives you your copy!

This was from the Auckland launch where Kiwis can be the first in the world to get their hands on Halo 4 due to the time difference from the rest of the world.



Saturday, November 3

JJ Reviews FUD FIVE

The Hunted...
It's been a long time coming for Forward Unto Dawn to go all Black Hawk on our ass and while episode 4 started to cranking into some real Halo action, the fifth and final webisode of the FUD series delivered an epic set piece worthy of having the Halo name attached.

If you'll recall the events of FUD 4, our heroes were making a dash in a Warthog for a Pelican to beat a hasty exist off the Planet.

With a knowing nod to the Halo CE Warthog' mechanics, Laskey comments that the Warthog is hard to drive. I think it would be too if your exit route was paved with Jackals!

Our heroes are forced to stop after driving over a very keen Jackal which leads to them realising their foe has withdrawn. The Chief figures out they are being hunted and so begins the climax of the series, the Chief taking down a Hunter.

Correction, make that two Hunters - as any Halo fan will know, the Mgalekgolo always hunt in pairs.

The production values of FUD really shine at the point, a silhouette of a Hunter against a forest backdrop is truly  menacing and a fantastic set piece where the Master Chief climbs on the back of one to implant a grenade within its wormy structure serves as a fitting climax to the series.

What this does show, for this writer anyway, is that if a Halo movie is to work, it needs to feature the Master Chief and lots of him. The extremely long slow burn to get to some action was painful as a viewer to behold.

Too many characters in the first three episodes where introduced and were effectively merely set up cannon fodder for Covenant troops. Frankly, any old trooper could have been killed along the way for shock value.

That said, it will keep me up at night wondering how this guy died.

If the Gears of War movie gets off the ground, it will be interesting to see how they hand the pace of the film. if done well that could perhaps serve as a guide to how a proper Halo movie could be made.

A nice coda at the end of the episode shows Laskey as a war veteran aboard the UNSC Infinity vessel (remembering an old love), thus suggesting he might feature in the Halo 4 game and some what poignantly tying in the name of series into the whole thread of the Halo cannon.


Friday, November 2

Bioware talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy

mass-effect-game

Bioware's Ryan Warden talks about the technical difficulties making the Mass Effect Trilogy

You may have heard that the Mass Effect series is going to be bundled up into one pack across a range of gaming platforms. Sounds like it was a mammoth task to get it all together. Here's an article that was post on the Bioware Blog. 

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I’m Ryan Warden, the External Producer for Mass Effect Trilogy. I’ve been with BioWare for almost 9 years now – first as a tools programmer, then working with external teams to coordinate the translation and foreign-language voice recording for the Mass Effect series. Lately I’ve been working to help bring you Mass Effect Trilogy for Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3.

We began work on Mass Effect Trilogy in earnest last April, shortly after Mass Effect 3 had shipped. The trilogy was complete, but there was a slight complication — there are people who had missed out on one (or more) titles in the series. From day one, we had announced that Mass Effect would be part of a trilogy. Jumping into the series at a midpoint could be intimidating. One thing you should know about our development team is that we’re all very passionate about the trilogy, the entire Mass Effect universe. So we started looking at ways to take away any intimidation or barriers players new to the franchise might feel, while also providing an amazing overall experience at a great price for the holidays. So the Mass Effect Trilogy was born.

Now I know that may sound like an easy thing to do, but it actually took a lot of talented people and a lot of effort to make this happen – for every version of Mass Effect Trilogy. Even for the platforms we’ve launched all three games on before, reissuing a game isn’t easy. There isn’t a switch in the game code that you can flip and suddenly it runs on newer, completely different hardware architecture or a new online client. There is no such thing as “just a port.” Luckily, we have great partners at Microsoft and EA who were instrumental in helping us make as seamless of an experience as possible for all three games.

Then there was building the original Mass Effect for the PlayStation 3.

Fortunately, we had a huge head start because of the work we had done with Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 for PS3. With that said, the original Mass Effect game was built completely differently than its successors, as we’ve learned a lot of lessons since then about how-to and how-not-to build a game. To be completely honest, I thought that it was unlikely that we could port Mass Effect in less than a year. It might take three years. Maybe even twenty-three! Fortunately, the team at Edge of Reality, an external team we’ve worked with in the past on many projects, thought otherwise. So we decided to try.

There were some complications. The audio technology that we originally used was no longer supported by its developer… and the engine didn’t support the PS3. “No problem,” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution. The levels and art assets in Mass Effect were massive and streaming into memory would probably have to work differently on the PS3 – which is NOT a trivial issue. “Shouldn’t be a problem’” said Edge of Reality, and they found a solution.

Wrap up of Halo 4 Reviews from around the net


Here's a selection of choice paragraphs of the pre release press reviews of Halo 4. They are pretty impressive and it's clear that Halo 4 is a new era in Halo's chapter. 

Game Informer loves it

343 Industries had a series of challenges in front of it when it began to create Halo 4: Take a beloved series from the original developer Bungie, maintain the legacy established through a decade of development, and reignite enthusiasm by delivering something new. That is a daunting list, but 343 Industries was clearly up to the task. Halo 4 is a thrilling adventure, and takes the science fiction franchise headlong into the future. The magic formula is intact, but the new development team isn’t afraid to put its own signature features into play, assuring that Halo is on a path to growth instead of stagnation.

Recent Halo entries felt ancillary to the core story. Halo 4 returns to the resonant drive of the series – Master Chief and his unrelenting defense of humanity. For the first time, the story has an emotional core that grounds the fiction: the connection between John and Cortana. As the two characters face a reemerging threat to the galaxy, we finally gain insight into the mysterious Forerunner race hinted at since Combat Evolved. Along the way, 343 Industries plays around with some heady science fiction concepts, from the nature of artificial intelligence to the planned shaping of a species’ evolution. While these ideas might be bewildering to newcomers, the story is the most cohesive and well-structured in the series.


It starts with a mesmerizing CG cutscene that flat-out knocks you on your ass. The lighting is flawless, subtle movements and animations abound, and it even goes so far that Commander Lasky (yes, the same Lasky we see as a teenager in the Forward Unto Dawn webseries) has crooked teeth – not the usual polygon-perfect Chiclet choppers that every other animated video game human has. It strikes a fine balance between old-school fan service and establishing context for new players, and it quickly segues into gameplay, where Halo 4’s greatest strength becomes immediately apparent: its gunplay.

Of course, gorgeous graphics are only one responsibility a console’s killer app must bear. Perhaps equal to Halo 4’s monitor-melting visuals is its bar-none, best-in-class sound design. If you think you’ve heard Halo, check your ears and listen again. Nary a gunshot, MJOLNIR boot clank, or Covenant Elite’s “Wort wort wort” passes through your speakers without a significant, authoritative overhaul that lends an aggressive, testosterone-inducing punch to Halo 4’s combat.