There's nothing better for breakfast than scrambled eggs, bacon, and a warm blueberry muffin. This is INDISPUTABLE. But if you have scrambled eggs, bacon, and a warm blueberry muffin, eventually you start to get sick of scrambled eggs, bacon, and a warm blueberry muffin. This is how I started to feel about the Halo series after Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach came out. Sure, it's good, but I kind of get it. Something has to change here.
But with this week's release of Halo 4, everything has changed. It's far and away the best Halo game of all time, but it's simulataneously different enough to make it feel new again. Here's what makes it different — the tobasco sauce and whipped cream you selectively add to your scrambled eggs, bacon, and warm blueberry muffin, as it were.
The guns sound BRUTAL
Whoever is the sound designer for Halo 4 needs to get, like, three promotions. The sound of bullets exploding ripping through the air makes even weaker guns like the assault rifle feel more powerful and lethal. This stands in stark contrast to Halo 3, where the assault rifle felt like it was gingerly flicking holy water at the enemy like it was a goddamn Catholic mass or something.
I can't think of a more tense multiplayer mode — one player starts out as the Alpha Flood, weilding a hand sword, and takes on the rest of the players, who are shotgun-wielding Spartans. Any human killed by a Flood joins their ranks and begins hunting their former teammates. It adds a touch of tragedy — you are now fighting your former friends. When playing Flood mode, I feel like Halo 4 has turned me into some macabre Shakespeare-lookin' character, fighting the people I thought I cared about most. Thanks a lot for making Halo into a goddamn MacBeth allusion, 343 Industries. Now I have to go cry in a graveyard.
Free-For-All becomes Regicide
It was fine just throwing a bunch of Spartans into a multiplayer map and watching them kill each other, but now that the free-for-all mode has evolved into Regicide, the players now have a goal — kill the king. As any screenwriter will tell you, things are better when everyone has a goal. Can you imagine a Mario game where instead of looking for the princess he, you know, does whatever? Just has himself a lazy day? I mean, I get it, he's earned it, but I don't want to play it.
It might be the first Halo game presented in color
For me, there's always been a weird cognitive disoonance with the Halo campaigns: I enjoy them, but when playing them I find myself incredibly depressed. Of course, now that I've spent some time in Halo 4's brilliant, vibrant world, the explination is clear — the old Halo environments had maybe two colors in them — gray and slate. So now when I'm using bright orange guns to turn illuminated blue monsters to dust in a lush, green jungle, the only thing I have to blame for my unspeakable depression is my poor diet and the way my father treated me when I was a kid.
The multiplayer announcer has a whole new sense of urgency
The Halo multiplayer announcer — who you'll remember screaming "LOST the lead. Tied the leader. Gainedthelead. LOST the lead" — mixed a Five Hour Energy in with his coffee before he recorded his lines for Halo 4. There's an agressiveness to his voice that made me tangibly upset when I was told, nay, scolded, for not protecting my flag.
The only bad part about the announcer in this game is that he seems to not have anything new to yell when you go on a kill streak besides the familiar "KILLamonjaro" and "KILLionaire". I guess we'll have to wait for Halo 5 to hear him yell "upKILL battle", "Is man governed by destiny or does he have free KILL", and "KILL and KILLary Clinton".
What's your favorite part of Halo 4? Let me know on Twitter at @mikeyfromsu or in the comments below!