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The Shelf Life Test: Halo 4

By / 12.19.12

The Highs and Lows of Infinity

Infinity houses all the online multiplayer playlists you’ve come to love like Team Slayer, Capture The Flag and SWAT. There’s also some new modes like Regicide, king of the hill with bonuses going to the king and Dominion: an extremely entertaining take on domination with resupplying, turret fortified bases. 343 Industries already introduced new playlists and a $10 map pack including Extraction: a twist on domination which keeps playing options varied.

The mode also attempts turns Halo’s multiplayer tropes on its head. The new scoring system grants credit for smaller feats like assists and being a decoy for a kill. Variations of kills still grant some of the highest point totals outside of playlist-specific opportunities like Dominion’s base attacks and defenses. Therefore, those with shaky aim still won’t have a major presence on the scoreboard.

A dedicated run button, shield with no health bar and instant respawns make Halo 4 the fastest moving Halo by a wide margin. It’s not a twitch shooter by any stretch though. Team play remains paramount and the learning curve can be pretty steep at the start.

New weapons and balancing comes with surprises and a few disappointments. For one, the Assault Rifle finally lives up to its name and doles out hefty damage in close range. The much gassed Battle Rifle is back with the DMR as well. Thing is, there’s no bloom anymore so the slower, more ranged and accurate DMR generally wins out against the BR except in SWAT; it’s spread for head shots gives it an upper hand. The new Promethean weapons emphasize power with 4 shot scoped-kill light rifles, the quick firing, spartan-disintegrating scattergun and the devastating Incineration Cannon. However, a charged blast from a boltshot, an unlockable pistol, can kill like a shotgun or scattergun from well beyond either of their ranges. It sounds broken because it is. Fix it, 343.*

Halo 4‘s upgrade and Ordnance drop system been discussed here with some trepidation. Turns out they’re not so bad after all. Ordance drop options are always random so your consistent play will be rewarded by a nice selection of weaponry or a bunch of merely ok advantages. You’ll start out with 0 armor abilities though so you may feel “naked” in your first matches against foes with advanced tech. For instance Promethean vision, introduced in the campaign, sends out and infrared sonar at the cost of a beeping signal exposing your location.

You’ll also unlock specializations like infinite run, faster weapon switching and faster shield recharge among other perks. Thankfully, you don’t unlock extra upgrades to your guns and whatnot which would further promote unbalanced play. Ranking up also unlocks extra outer customization options for your Spartan with no performance benefits. At least you can eventually look cool while going on a killing spree. You’ll look even better when you save, upload and share your clips of domination or all out goofball affairs to the fileshare.

Infinity works well and can be plenty of fun but suffers from occasionally suspect hit detection, some unfair spawns, the aforementioned bolt shot and having few maps available on disc. It plays best with a group of coordinated friends since playing on a team of strangers with no chemistry often leads to losses and unnecessary frustration. So, if you’re not the social type, your range with Infinity will go as far as your individual talents. Multiplayer here is pretty hard to have a good time with if you can’t compete and/or aren’t in good company.

*This reviewer complains about the bolt shot but has it in one of his loadouts. Don’t judge him.

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TAGSGamingHALOHalo 4Microsoft Xbox 360Microsoft Xbox Live

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