MICROSOFT HAS UNLEASHED the press on its eagerly anticipated first person shooter Halo 4, giving us go at two of the game's levels and full rein with its multiplayer features.
On hand at the scene, The INQUIRER blasted, clawed, drove and punched its way through the levels on show and we have to say that we're impressed.
Playing the game, we instantly felt at home, with an overarching sense of familiarity taking hold of us the moment we heard Master Chief and Cortana speak. Listening to the two characters' conversation and from what we've seen, 343 Studios has done a masterful job of recapturing the characters' tit for tat dialogue.
This sense of familiarity carried on to the game's mission format. Like its predecessors Halo 4's single player campaign is split into a number of missions, which are themselves each split into several checkpoints. In Halo 4 as in Halo 1, Halo 2 and Halo 3, Cortana acts as your guide, updating and instructing you on what action you need to take at any given time.
Starting with the game's opening level, Dawn, we saw Master Chief awaken to find a ship infested with Covenant soldiers. 343 Studios claims the level was intentionally designed to be reminiscent of the original Halo's opening level, and having played, we have to admit that it really did give us a sense of nostalgia, with the dark metal corridors, flashing blue control panels and industrial pipes lining its walls all being unquestionably Halo.
In Dawn, we found ourselves being pushed forward further into the Covenant infested spaceship to find out why humanity hadn't responded to Master Chief's distress call. This saw us traverse through a number of dark corridors and docking bays, fighting past the familiar Grunts and Drones to get to the ship's command centre, all of which felt quite familiar and in keeping with the previous games.
It was only later into the level that we began to see just how much 343 Studios has added to the series. Chief among the gameplay additions are quicktime events. Akin to mini games, quicktime events are gameplay sequences that require you to follow custom onscreen commands within a set time period. In our hands-on demo, midway through Dawn we were tasked to help Master Chief claw his way through an access shaft while dodging debris.