November 20, 2012 by zack373
This week in our Film 373 lab we played the newest addition to the Halo franchise, Halo 4. The game has been described by IGN editor Ryan MCCaffery as, “not only a success, but a bar-raising triumph for the entire first-person shooter genre.” (MCCaffery 1) The Halo franchise is exclusive to the Microsoft controlled Xbox 360 and Windows Gaming platforms. Halo 4 on its launch day grossed a staggering $220 million in sales and the series has one of the most diehard fan bases. The game’s plot relates to Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey” and follows the recurring theme of Master Chief saving the world from alien takeover. There is also a new challenge of saving Cortana from rampancy; she is an AI guide that has been serving Master Chief since the first game. In addition to a strong campaign mode, the game is also very multiplayer based and is one of the most popular franchises on Xbox Live.
Playing Halo 4 in our lab took me back to my childhood and the days of playing Halo Combat Evolved with my middle school friends. In our class we played the co-op campaign mode in 5 minute intervals for an hour; Xbox Live was not activated so we didn’t get a chance to play online. Halo 4 has kept pretty much the same feel as the first game with very similar game mechanics and gameplay. Obvious changes to the game would be improved graphics, more interactive cut scenes, and a more complete online multiplayer integration for campaign and multiplayer. One of the new attributes I didn’t like in this game was the change in sound effects and music. Marty O’Donnell who was the head composer has been replaced and the trademark monk chants have been taken out of the game. However, the game still has the same feel and diegesis.
I feel that my experience in the theory and history of videogames has also given me a new perspective on the Halo franchise. I noticed smaller details in the game such as the diegetic elements and its relation to narratology; specifically ludonarrative. Halo 4 is interesting in regards to ludonarrative because it has a 1-4 player campaign both online and offline. This creates an array of campaign experiences and the game is programmed well enough were one or more players can leave the game while in the level without disrupting other players narrative experiences. Additionally, I appreciate its relation to theories discussed in class such as its enacted narratives; its Aristotelian structure; and its relation to Jesper Juul’s “Classic Game Model.” Moreover, I now understand the significance of the Halo franchise to the FPS genre. The franchise was praised in Understanding Videogames, “Shooters were not dominant on consoles… until …. Halo Combat Evolved. The game was almost universally praised and sold alongside every other Xbox.” (Nielson 98) Halo 4 has come a long way from the original and is successful in adapting to what gamers expect from the franchise while incorporating new and unexpected tweaks that further reinforce the games importance.
Halo 4 definitely relates to our most current topic about violence and videogames. The game is rated M for its graphic violence and from my observations it is very graphic. Just in the first 5 minutes of the game there is a significant amount of bloodshed and gore. Specifically, the use of the Energy sword which tears apart aliens and creates a blood spray effect. Halo 4 also relates to our unit about games and player culture. As previously mentioned, Halo 4 has a huge metaculture with a huge following of diehard fans that will literally dress up as Master Chief for launch parties. Additionally, the Halo franchise arguably has one the strongest online gaming communities and is a household name to anyone who owns an Xbox. Halo 4 is a huge AAA release; accordingly, Microsoft has created a Halo 4 edition console and controller bundle to entice its diehard fan base. Moreover, this game is a big step forward in the franchise because it was not made by Bungie who did the past seven titles. A new studio named 343 Industries developed the game after Bungie branched off from Microsoft. IGN editor Ryan MCCaffery Tweeted on November 1st, “Halo is in new hands, but guess what? 343’s debut effort out-Bungies Bungie. Halo 4 is a triumph.”343 Industries delivered on gamers huge expectations and made very few controversial changes besides the sound effects.
Overall, I was very impressed with Halo 4. I do not play as many videogames as I use to but this is definitely one that I will play in my free time. Halo 4 is very well developed and has very few flaws; it received one of the highest IGN ratings, a 9.8/10. When reflecting on this game I feel that the concepts I learned in Film 373 gave me a greater appreciation for the game and also allowed me to effectively relate it to our discussions in class.
“Halo 4 Review.” IGN. N.p., n.d. Web. <HTTP://WWW.IGN.COM/ARTICLES/2012/11/01/HALO-4-REVIEW>.
“Halo 4 Sales.” La times. N.p., n.d. Web. <HTTP://WWW.LATIMES.COM/ENTERTAINMENT/ENVELOPE/COTOWN/LA-ET-CT-HALO-4-SALES-20121112,0,6272960.STORY>.
Nielson, Simon. Understanding Videogames. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.