Playing through the entirety of Halo 4's campaign in a dimly-lit 24th-floor meeting room during New York Comic-Con wasn't so different from how I'd have experienced the game if I had simply played it at home. Lights low, snacks at the ready, one long sitting. That's how I've played every Halo game since the second one. In some ways, it's the ideal way to take in the whole experience. Otherwise the story can seem disjointed, each level a separate event without the context of the missions before and after. Played as a single experience, the story of Halo 4 was cohesive.
Developer: 343 Industries
Release date: Nov. 6
That's not to say it made sense, though. As the Master Chief is awoken from his four-year-long sleep directly following the events of Halo 3, his first words are "Where are we?" and "Why did you wake me?" Fans might be wondering the same thing. The story arc that began in Halo: Combat Evolved and ended in 2007 with Halo 3 was resolved nicely; the Covenant disbanded, humanity was finally safe from The Flood, and the Master Chief drifted peacefully through space, finally at rest.
But there was never a chance that Microsoft would let the Chief lie, even with series creators Bungie having moved on, and so 343 Industries was created and another Halo trilogy—once again starring the Master Chief—was begun.
One thing's for sure: it certainly feels like Halo. Mechanically, 343's gotten everything right, even surpassing Bungie's games in numerous ways. The weapons, the sounds, the new ways in which Halo 4 has been "modernized"—particularly in multiplayer—all fit together nicely to form what's possibly the most comprehensive and competent Halo game yet.
But the question for some fans might well be whether Halo 4's story is one that needed to be told, the way the first three games felt like the most pivotal chapters in the Master Chief's long and storied life. And the answer, unfortunately, is not so simple.