Following the highly publicised change of developer the gaming world was rightly curious as to how one of its biggest selling franchises would fare following the departure of its creators Bungie. Despite now being developed by 343 industries however this is still, for better or worse, the same Halo we've all seen before and those that criticise the series for not really evolving since its Xbox debut over a decade ago certainly make a fair point. As a result this fourth 'mainline' title is not really going to be of any interest to those that didn't like previous installments.
Having said all that Halo 4 is still undeniably a great package and certainly offers better value for money than many modern video games. The main campaign itself will last most players somewhere around the 10 hour mark depending on the difficulty setting and their level of skill and can be played either solo or with up to three other players. As with every previous game it is at its best when offering open areas in which to fight the array of enemies and their vehicles and to this day there are few better experiences in the FPS genre than when Halo gets the balance just right. For me the game forces players to spend a little too long inside long thin corridors and smaller indoor areas as in these instances the freedom to tackle the battle the way you want to is removed and it simply is not as much fun to play, hopefully this is something that can be addressed in the inevitable sequels.
On top of the campaign Halo 4 also provides a series of 'Spartan Op' missions. Each of these lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and can again be tackled either alone or in multi-player. The idea seems to have been taken from the special ops missions featured in the Call of Duty series and provide the player with various tasks such as clearing an area of enemies or destroying set objectives. Admittedly maps are reused throughout these ops but it is hard to complain when they can all be downloaded for free.
The final part of this generous package is the competitive multi-player. All the usual modes, as well as a few surprises, are present and correct and the solid gunplay still translates well. Controversially Halo 4 has again taken a page out of the Call of Duty handbook with weapons and perks now being unlocked as the player levels up. I was never a huge fan of the online multi-player in the previous installments anyway but purists will understandable be disappointed and it is certainly a shame to see yet another game attempt to imitate Activisions all conquering behemoth.
All in all then this is a safe but promising start for 343 industries and the wealth of options and modes will provide most with hour upon hour of gameplay.