Halo 4: A Retrospective

So you’re back.

It ain’t your first rodeo either. You’ve taken this war horse for a ride ever since it was a fiery young colt, kicking and hollering to get out of the stable and out in front of the pack. “Pay attention to me, I ain’t your daddy’s shooter. I’m Halo: Combat Evolved.”

That was eleven years ago. You saved up your money or you and your siblings colluded or your parents really did love you, and you got that big, ugly box with that fat X on it. Finally, an American console from an American company for an American player (but still made in China). And your puny little hands could barely grasp The Duke, the monarch of controllers. It didn’t have a fancy LCD screen built in, it didn’t have a sophisticated magnetometer, and it didn’t have an emasculating wrist strap. It had a fat, useless Xbox logo in the middle and it had an easy-to-detach cable so your dumb little brother didn’t trip over that 9 ½ foot long cord and bring your $299.99 + tax investment crashing to the floor.

And then ten years ago, you were there when the ugly box went online (and you probably picked a regretful gamertag too). Then you were there for Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach. And who are we kidding? You were there for Halo Wars too.

Now you’re here, older, fatter, and in that stage of your life where you have money and no sense of responsibility. So you buy NERF guns, overpriced headphones, and Halo 4. You were once the beggar. Now you’re the king. You sit on your throne and you fire it up.

It’s still the old girl with a new layer of war paint.

The Master Chief is back. He looks different but he sounds like the same old gruff badass we remember. And Cortana’s here too. By the way, Halo 4 marks the return of the celebrated battle rifle. It’s all the old friends.

Halo 4 still has the tight, silky smooth controls. Still has you plugging aliens with slurpee colored blood. It’s still the Halo we love. But just like the Chief’s armor, something’s different.

Different like you’ve got weapon loadouts now. You can sprint all the time. You can respawn instantly with the press of a button (in most game modes). Power weapons rain from the sky when you rack up the pointstreaks. You have to unlock your emblems, your guns, and your abilities. The warthog sounds like a Yamasaki 50cc that’s got a 600 lbs. circus bear with a death wish riding it. And damn, look at that ass (you really can’t help it, it’s just right there, just saying). Your old friend, Cortana, got a graphical upgrade in thickness.

All the changes and all the differences might be scary to a vet like you. The Call of Duty comparisons are apt, the armor really is that ugly, you definitely don’t have time to complete the shit ton of challenges in the game, and the scariest part might be that you’re the old person now and the kids who are yelling at you because you and your mom suck are versions of you 10 years ago. So do it and suck it up. Halo’s grown with you for over a decade and it’s experimenting with new things. Isn’t it time to return the favor?

I mean, that ass says it all: This ain’t the Halo you played back in middle school.

Author: Nader Ahmadnia

Nader Ahmadnia is a writer for Progressive Man Magazine, an online music publication that features new and emerging talent.

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