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Something Old, Something New

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Seven discreet-to-awesome changes in Halo 4

Hello, dear readers. I'm kicking off a month of 'Halo'-related articles, starting with today's entry. I promise I'll be back to my pseudo-psychological self in no time, but for now, I crave your indulgence in the matter of my excitement. 

Hey, everybody! It's election time! You know what that means, don't you? That's right, kids, it's time for an incredibly forced topical article!Nah, I'm just kidding. I wouldn't do that to you. We do games here.

Onward to topical gaming lists!I've got seven reasons why you should be excited about 'Halo 4,' seven reasons why 343 Industries could very well pull off a near-perfect restructuring of one of the greatest FPS franchises whilst keeping the core 'Halo' experience intact. Without further ado:

1. Custom loadouts

Bungie almost came through with this in 'Halo: Reach,' but fell just short of the customization we craved. Let's face it: Infinity Ward set a new standard in 'Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare' by giving us the ability to change our loadouts as the situation in the game changed. That kind of flexibility is paramount, and was sorely lacking in Bungie's final outing. In the Infinity Slayer gametype, you now have that option. Before the purists cry foul, there will still be playlists that cater to the classic 'Halo' gameplay, sans the ability to customize your loadout. The ability to have preset starting weapons and armor abilities while keeping the gameplay balanced is a fantastic new addition, and one, may I add, that has been a long time coming.

2. Leveling (no, really)

While I've always enjoyed the traditional 'Halo' ranking system, it never quite gave you anything to look forward to. You just got higher and higher on the list, without anything to truly push you forward as you got close to the top. In 'Halo 4,' they're introducing specializations that you collect as you level, ones that will add to your ammo capacity, your reload times, allowing you to use your radar while looking through a scope and a host of other adjustments. These specializations allow you to tailor your loadouts to your personal playstyle.

3. New scoring system

There's a new scoring system in place that rewards you not just for kills and completing objectives but for supporting your teammates in battle. You now score points for escorting the flag carrier, being a distraction for your squad or even just driving your teammates around in a Warthog. Even if don't get a single kill, you'll still be rewarded for attempting to help out your team in any way you can.

4. Ordinance drops

During an Infinity Slayer match, after you earn a set amount of points, you have the option to call in extra ordinance from drop pods. Also customizable with various weapons, you'll have three choices of either weapons or powerups to attempt to turn the tide of battle. This adds a whole new layer of strategy to each game, as you have to decide when and where the best time to call in your shiny new toys. Again, it's nice to see 343 utilizing an excellent option built by Infinity Ward while simultaneously making it their own and fitting it snugly into their universe.

5. Sprint is no longer an armor ability

Sprint is separate from the other armor abilities now. No longer will you have to choose between your beloved jetpack and being able to cover ground quickly.

6. Retooled CTF and Oddball

With the new scoring system in place for rewarding support, the role of the flag carrier has become one that not only thrives on teamwork but depends on it. When you pick up the flag, you are committed to carrying it to your base or til death do you part. You'll need to coordinate with your teammates if you want any hope of seeing your base with your noggin intact. However, you're not completely helpless: You now can use your pistol while carrying the flag.

An opposite change has been made to Oddball to make it more beneficial to not just have one person carrying the ball at one time: passing. You are now fully able to do your best Steve Nash impression by bounce-passing the Oddball to other team members. But beware - for your passes can be intercepted. This adds a whole new forward-motion dynamic to a gametype that was previously dominated by hiding in one place for as long as possible.

7. Mechs.

There are gorram, bloody, honest-to-goodness, two-footed clanking deathtraps in 'Halo 4.' So much happy was emanating from this 'Metal Gear' fan at that announcement.

Aaron Waite went to Hangar 18. He didn't quite see as much as he'd like.

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