Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lets Compare Halo Multiplayer to a Cake

So, its been about a month since Halo 4 has been announced, and I just want you all to know that I go straight into fanboy mode when a new Halo game comes out (exclude Halo Wars), so you can imagine my excitement when Halo 4 was released!

Now let me tell you all my own little analogy before getting into this thing.  It's an analogy about the Halo series as a whole, comparing Halo to a cake.

It begins with Halo.  A great game, it was my first real dwell into First Person Shooters, and I remember being absolutely addicted to this game.  It was the foundation of the Halo series, and while it wasn't perfect, it was still very good.  The original Halo is the layers of the cake.  Sure, they're a little bland at first, but they are a necessity to making a good cake.

Halo 2 was the icing on the cake.  They took all the concepts from the original and they perfected them.  Halo 2 was an absolute work of art.  I played on Xbox live for far longer than I should have.  I'd say that this game was the game that defined my adolescence.  I always played Nintendo as a kid, and this, mixed with Xbox Live, was what pushed me over into the competitive gaming side of gaming.  It was no longer just about having fun.  Sure, that was, and always will be, a big part of it, but now it was about winning!  Sure, the story wasn't exactly genre defining, but the way that the game ran was flawless, and something that Halo 3 can't match up to.

Halo 3.  So what was this?  Halo 3 was the sprinkles added to the cake.  Sure, sometimes sprinkles can be nice, but other times they just get in the way, and keep you from really enjoying it.  Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy Halo 3.  I would say it is the most lacking of the original 4, but I still played the crap out of this game.  I think where Halo 3 went wrong is that they added a bunch of unnecessary things to it.  The biggest being the utilities that you can pick up during a game, and the 2 added grenades.  It just felt wrong to me.  It felt like Bungie just threw them in to change it up a little, and it simply didn't work that well.  Not to mention that, aside from the power drainer, they were all pretty useless.  As far as the grenades go, I really liked the concept of flame grenades, but then they were never implemented into the multiplayer, and the spike grenades... They were just bad sticky grenades and didn't add anything to the game at all.

Then we had Halo Reach.  Reach was like lighting the candles on the cake.  Everything came together in perfect harmony, the utilities were now implemented into armor abilities, making the game something new, somethings different, something very unique.  But at the same time, it was still Halo.  Everything that everyone loved about Halo was still there.  They took out duel wielding, because honestly it was kind of pointless.  They took out the extra un-needed grenades.  They added a new and improved forge world.  It never grew boring, because there was always someone, somewhere making a new game type, a new map, a new video. And even after hours it never grew boring.  The armor abilities simply added a whole new layer to the game (cake), but it didn't bog it down.  It was refined, it was filled with greatness, it was the climax of all the Halo games.  It was... perfection.

So then you may be asking "Hey, then what about Halo 4?  Where does that fit into this cake analogy?"  And that it is a good question.  And I'm not sure that a lot of people are going to like it.

Halo 4 is after the cake has been eaten.  It was delicious, yes, but now you've found that you've ate a bit too much, and you're not feeling so well.  What 434 Studio's did to the Halo multiplayer with Halo 4 is unforgivable.  Yes, unforgivable.  Now let me clarify a bit.  Just hear me out.

I love change.  Change is good in games.  I hate it when games come out and they are the same thing that they were the year before (See Call of Duty for more reference).  And Halo always changed.  It was still the game that we all loved underneath the changes, but it did change, and that was what made it great.

But Halo 4.  Oh, it's definitely changed alright, no doubt about that.  It hasn't changed in a good way.  It hasn't changed into a new and improved game, filled with unique goodies and loads of fun.  No, its taken a step backwards.  It's almost as if they're trying to be like Call of Duty with Halo 4.

Anyone remember that time in the 1985 when Coca-Cola changed their formula into "The New Coke", and it tasted just like Pepsi and everyone hated it?  Yeah.  It's like that.  People don't drink Coke because they like Pepsi.  People want their damn Coke to taste like Coke!  The same goes for Halo!  I don't care if a majority of the marketplace "prefers" Call of Duty over Halo.  I play Halo so that I can play halo.

Now I'll admit that there are still some Halo-ish elements to it.  But now let me explain to you just why Halo 4 multiplayer is bad:

1.  Sprinting is always available.  It was great that in Reach you could choose sprint if you so wanted to.  Because it could be advantageous given certain situations.  But at the same time, by choosing to be able to run, you were giving up the ability to go invisible, use a jetpack, or use armor lock.  And that's what made it so grand!  It was all about choosing what you liked best, or what ability best pertains to the battle or map you were on.

2.  The maps are... Well... They're just not good.  Now I'll be honest.  I don't mind the maps they use for big team battle.  They're large, they feel like some good old fashion Halo maps!  But in team slayer (or I suppose infinity slayer is what the kids are calling it these days) the maps are just ungodly small.  I mean seriously, these maps are even smaller than the small maps on Halo Reach!  They feel extremely straight forward and bland.  Add the ability to sprint at any given time, and you can transverse practically every 4v4 map in about 5 seconds.

3.  The damn weapons are worthless.  Now let me tell you, I didn't just play 1 game of Halo 4.  I played for a few days before finally making my decision.  And I'll tell you exactly how every game I ever played went down:
         - Spawn
         - Begin sprinting around
         - Use assault rifle to easily kill any enemy nearby
         - Die

  There you have it folks.  That is a Halo 4 game in a nutshell.  I'll tell you, I tried using a battle rifle (my favorite Halo weapon), and it is absolutely worthless on any of the 4v4 maps.  They are no wide open area's, everything is covered with walls of some sort, and by the time you have a shot they've already got their assault rifle unloading on you, which only takes half the time to kill someone with.  Not to mention it used to take 4 shots to the head to kill them with a battle rifle, now it takes 6.  Yet it's even easier to kill someone with an assault rifle then it used to be.  Does that make any sense to you?  Because it doesn't to me.

4.  The damn armor abilities are worthless.  Remember that little rundown of a Halo game that I have you in the above paragraph?  Notice how at no point I mentioned using an armor ability.  That's because no one does.  The one and only armor ability I ever see anyone use is the Evade ability.  It allows you to dash forward for half a second or so.  Beyond that, I've tried using Jetpack (probably my favorite Reach armor ability) and all it does is slow you down.  It feels like when I start using my Jetpack I'm going at a snails pace.  The fuel doesn't last as long as it did in Reach, and momentum seems to be non-existant in Halo 4.

5.  There aren't any weapon spawns.  Yes I know, you can spawn weapons from getting a certain number of points in the game.  This is bad.  This is simply not right.  The whole point of the old Halo's was strategy.  Knowing where the weapons were, knowing how to get to them the quickest, and knowing where to go after you get them.  Now that everyone starts with the overpowered assault rifle, there is no need for weapon spawns.  In fact, this leads us to our next point.

6.  The new "boosting abilities" that they offer.  If you get enough point you get to choose at random between three selective things.  Usually one of these is either a speed boost or a power boost.  These are completely and utterly overpowered.  Speed boost + shotgun is the most broken combo in the game.  I suppose I can't complain to much, considering that it actually makes you want to use a weapon other than the assault rifle, but the combination of being able to sprint AND have a speed boost is completely broken.  It's as if they didn't even test it out beforehand, they just decided to throw it in.  As far as power boost goes.  Remember how strong that assault rifle is?  Yeah, that just doubles its power, allowing you to kill your enemies with literally 1/4 of a clip.

7.  Where's the teamwork?  Halo, what happened?  I mean seriously.  I always loved you because of how much teamwork you always implemented, if you wanted to win a 4v4 game, you ALL had to work together as a team.  You had to choose who would go and get what weapons, and always be prepared for if the enemy got their first.  You all had to keep an eye on eachothers backs, and fronts.  Perhaps one of you would use the jetpack to keep an eye from above, whilst the other beat down the enemy with armor lock, or snuck up from behind with invisibility.  Now all I do is sprint around and kill.  Kill.  Kill.  Kill. Kill.  And kill some more.  I mean, seriously... This is biggest reason why you feel so much like Call of Duty.

I guess the whole point I'm trying to make here is that Halo 4 is bland.  It's as bland as a game get's, and worst yet everyone seems to love it.  But I get that we all have our own opinions about things, and this is simply mine:

Halo 4 was a step back for the series (as far as multiplayer goes anyway).

It turned the Halo franchise into a bubbling pot of every other simplistic shooter in the world.  Everything good that was in Reach is practically non-existent in this game.  Sure, you can choose to use all these cool sounding armor abilities or these awesome looking alien weapons, but in the end, you're going to find yourself ALWAYS using the assault rifle.  The maps are small and as equally bland as the game itself, giving you the option to either run around aimlessly and kill anything that moves, OR you could always... run around aimlessly and kill anything that moves...

So thanks 434.  I was really optimistic about this game, and what you we're going to do with it, but in the end it ended with my worst fears: shear and utter disappointment.  So here's to hoping the next game doesn't have a zombie mode.

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