If you know anything about the world of video games, then you are bound to know “Halo,” as not only is it one of the most iconic video game franchises out there, but it is also the franchise that defines Xbox as a platform. The series started all the way back in 2001 with “Halo: Combat Evolved,” which was released for the original Xbox. Bungie took the helm as the studio behind this game, and singlehandedly redefined what first-person shooters, especially for a console, can look like and be. The impression and legacy that “Halo” left behind are still realized and felt, and its tremendous success spawned multiple sequels over the years.
Master Chief, the leading protagonist, became not only the mascot for Xbox but also an icon, and the fanfare and love for the franchise just kept growing. Back in 2010, Bungie released their last “Halo” game titled “Halo Reach,” which acted as a prequel to the entire Master Chief saga as the series shifted hands to 343 Industries and Bungie moved away from it and started working on their own project, “Destiny.” Now, the 343i “Halo” games are ones that aren’t preferred by the community that much; let’s get that out of the way immediately. So much so that people downright hate the company and claim that they don’t understand “Halo” and, therefore, shouldn’t develop it and that Microsoft is mishandling the IP. As someone who grew up playing “Halo” and has practically read all the books, I have to agree with that sentiment to some degree. My judgment of 343i isn’t as harsh as the internet’s, but I do see and acknowledge the flaws.
“Halo 4” s campaign was restrictive, yes, but in my opinion, it told the best story in a “Halo” game ever upon its release, and whether you love it or hate it, what they did with Master Chief’s character was a breath of fresh air and a much-welcomed addition. “Halo 5: Guardians” is inarguably the worst “Halo” game that has ever come out, and I cannot and will not deny that claim. “Halo 5” is plain bad, just horrible, the black sheep of this franchise, and can be omitted from the saga (which it already somewhat has). The multiplayer was fun, though, and yes, I know and agree that it was more inclined towards eSports and didn’t feel at all like “Halo” multiplayer, but at the same time, fun is fun, and I always welcome it. The poor release of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection ” is also another reason that shows 343i’s inability to handle this Ip, but hey, it’s amazing now and is the hub for “Halo,” where most players spend a lot of their time. As you can probably tell if you didn’t already know, ever since 343i took over, “Halo” isn’t what it used to be anymore and is slowly but surely sinking.
What made “Halo” special to begin with was how much of a complete package it was right from the get-go. The incredible story-driven campaign, co-op (especially couch co-op), fantastic multiplayer action, tons of game modes, and, of course, Forge. All of this came packed on disc the moment you bought the game, which unfortunately isn’t the case anymore as “Halo” has also fallen victim to the live service model. Whatever the case, this can go on forever, as there is no end to this argument. I am putting an end to it by saying that yes, “Halo” isn’t being handled properly, and something needs to be done, but at the same time, I am a sucker for “Halo,” and I do like some of the things that 343i has done. All of this brings us to the most recent entry in the Master Chief saga, “Halo Infinite.” Let’s dive deep and see what makes “Halo Infinite” a game worth playing.
‘Halo Infinite’ Premise
The game continues where “Halo 5: Guardians” left off, all the while softly rebooting the events a tad and continuing the story after Cortana and other rogue AIs left the cosmos in chaos with the help of the Guardians. We see a cutscene of Master Chief fighting against a banished ambush aboard the UNSC Infinity as he is pummeled and downright destroyed by none other than Atriox. Chief is left floating in space and sometime later is rescued by a man we’ll come to know as The Pilot. After the rescue, the Pilot wishes to return home, but Master Chief, being Master Chief, wants to “finish the fight.” After some fighting and plotting, he steps into the playground for this game, the Zeta Halo ring. Here, Chief retrieves a new AI simply known as “The Weapon,” and the journey begins. As you can probably tell, I haven’t shared any details regarding the plot, and that’s because the plot here is really, really good. There’s an air of mystery to the story as you will slowly uncover and unravel all the events that transpired before and what comes after. One thing to note is that the cast of this story is very small and only focuses on the aforementioned characters—the Master Chief, the Weapon, and the Pilot—alongside the brute taking charge of the Banished, Escherum. You’ll be running around the Zeta Halo fighting tons of Banished and the remnants of the Covenant (sort of), and surprisingly, you will encounter no Forerunners. The plot here is absolutely solid, tells a memorable and incredible “Halo” story, and gives us more reasons why we love Master Chief so much.
There’s so much I’d like to say about the story, especially to the people who just hate it for the sake of hating it, but no, there’s no need for that because everyone who knows and understands “Halo,” be it casuals or diehards, loved the story on offer here and we want more of this! I’ll drop one major spoiler here because ever since I heard this, I have simply lost my mind and definitely want a lot more of this, so read the next paragraph at your own discretion; you have been warned.
It’s common knowledge that if you beat a “Halo” campaign on legendary difficulty, then you are rewarded with an additional cutscene at the end. “Halo infinite” tweaks this up a bit and offers the same cutscene to everyone no matter what difficulty you beat it on, but instead adds additional dialogues if you beat it on legendary, which isn’t present on other difficulties. I won’t get into the cutscene itself as much, but the line it ends with sends shivers down my spine. “Offensive bias has been deployed.” Any “Halo” nerd like myself would have simply lost their mind just with the mere mention of offensive bias, and I don’t know if “Halo Infinite” is getting a DLC or they are making a new game using Unreal Engine 5 as the rumors suggest, but I want more of this and I want it right now.
“Halo Infinite’s” campaign and story are stellar, and the game tells one of the best narratives the series has ever told; but of course, you are free to disagree. The campaign is packed with badass moments alongside tons of moments that will make you cry if you know this universe, and I just can’t get enough of what I played here. Massive kudos to Steve Downes and Jen Taylor for their incredible performances (as always) as Master Chief and Cortana, and of course, major praise to Nicolas Roye for his incredible work as the Pilot. Superb.
‘Halo Infinite’ Gameplay
It’s a “Halo” game, so you’ll be shooting tons of aliens in the face. The biggest change this game boasts is the introduction of an open world, as you get to roam around and explore a section of the Zeta Halo ring. There’s not a lot that can be said when it comes to the gameplay of “Halo Infinite” other than the fact that they have refined the gunplay and movement to a tee, and everything here runs and plays smoother and better than ever before.
Armor abilities also play a big role here as you gradually unlock things like a shield that blocks incoming projectiles, a thruster that can be used for dodging, a scanner that highlights enemies in its proximity, and of course, the new and improved grappling hook. The grappling hook deserves special praise because let’s face it, every game gets better with a grappling hook, and here in “Infinite,” it’s just so awesome to use! All of these abilities can be upgraded as you unlock skill points of sorts by finding them littered around the world and completing some activities.
The world itself is fine; it looks good, but don’t expect it to be as detailed or interactive to the level of games like, say, “Red Dead Redemption 2.” Its only purpose is to give you more enemies to shoot and make your playing field much larger and more open, which in turn adds some choice to your approach towards missions. It’s full of typical and generic open-world activities like capturing bases, killing high-value targets, and saving captured soldiers, but when the shooting and moment-to-moment gameplay are so fun, even generic things become 100x better than they already are.
Speaking of gunplay, it’s “Halo,” and yes, you have a varied arsenal of guns to choose from. Iconic weaponry like the assault rifle, the battle rifle, and the SPNKR rocket launcher are all here, and some new weapons have been added, like the Forerunner cindershot, the stalker rifle, or the commando rifle. Some weapons like the sentinel beam, the heatwave, the mangler, and more have also returned and seen either minor tweaks or major changes not only to their looks but also to their functionality. Each weapon has its own uses, and each weapon here feels balanced, powerful, and well-designed.
We also have multiplayer, obviously, and we all know how dry it is when it comes to content, maps, and game modes, but is it fun? Short and sweet answer: it’s one of the best versions of “Halo” multiplayer that has ever been made, and despite its shortcomings, there’s no denying that you’ll have a blast playing this. The same can be said for the co-op campaign, as it’s finally out and allows up to four players to run around Zeta Halo and fight the Banished that have taken over and occupied the ring. I personally haven’t dabbled much in Forge here, so I can’t say with certainty, but from what I’ve heard, Forge is fantastic as always and is even better here in “Halo infinite.”
It’s a “Halo” game, and it’s fun. If you know the franchise, then you know what to expect, and this is one of the best-feeling “Halo” games that have been made to date. An incredible first-person shooter made even better, all thanks to minor tweaks instead of major additions/changes made to the systems. Solid stuff across the board.
The Technical stuff
4K at 60 fps on Xbox Series X with the option to play multiplayer at 120 fps. If you are on the original Xbox One, then you are unfortunately stuck with 30 fps, but on current-gen hardware, the game looks, sounds, and performs phenomenally. The best way to describe the gameplay here is that it’s fast and smooth, and I personally encountered no hitches that hindered my experience. The sound design here is also fantastic and true to “Halo” (obviously), and as I mentioned above, there is stellar voice acting. Another thing to note here is the music, and they have mostly remixed and remade the old track, but, good lord almighty, the “Halo” music that we fell in love with from back in the day is back with a vengeance, and I couldn’t be happier. The content on offer may be lacking, but the technical state of “Halo infinite” is fantastic, and I have nothing but good things to say about it.
“Halo” is a flagship title for Microsoft and Xbox, and the way it has been handled over the years is unpleasant to see, but at the same time, “Halo Infinite” rectifies most of the mistakes and is a solid game across the board. Anyone who claims that the game looks bad is generic, boring, repetitive, offers a bad story, has nothing to offer, etc. Look, you are entitled to your own opinion, and it’s okay. I must say once again that none of those things are true, in my opinion, as the game is beautiful, the gameplay is solid, the story is fantastic, and everything else in between is near perfection. The cardinal sin that this game has committed is that it opted for the live service model and failed miserably in delivering on the promise. Sure, what’s on offer here is downright terrific, but it definitely needs more—a lot more. I am not even asking for new things, but the fact that there are things missing from the game that has been present in every “Halo” game since the series was born is inexcusable. The internet and gamers, in general, are a lot that is incredibly hard to please, and I don’t understand what kind of expectations they hold when it comes to a game released because those expectations are never met, and they tend to criticize every aspect and make mountains out of molehills. On its own merits, “Halo Infinite” is a fantastic first-person shooter, and me being a proud fan of the franchise, I can happily say that yes, “Halo” is back. Other than that, let’s just say we are halfway there, and Microsoft and 343 Industries both need to get their acts together and deliver us the game that this franchise deserves and silence all the dissenters. I recommend this game, I want more of it, and I hope that the future of “Halo” shines tall and bright.