Thrilling Halo 4 makes strong claim for game of the century
Master Chief and his female companion Cortona make a welcome return in new sci-fi game
What you need to know
The latest science fiction action video game from Microsoft Studios' 'Halo' franchise is released worldwide this week. Games developer 343 Industries has taken over from Bungie to create Halo 4, which is actually the first instalment of a new series called the Reclaimer Trilogy, and the first Halo game since 2007.
The series centres on an interstellar war between humanity and an alliance of aliens. In Halo 4, protagonist Master Chief returns with his female AI companion Cortona to continue the battle against the evil alien group The Covenant.
Halo 4 can be played alone or with up to three other players. Like other Halo games, it is a first-person shooter, but also has mystery,
exploration and discovery elements.
What the critics like
The latest Halo game will exceed the expectations of fans, says Talal Musa in the Daily Mail. It's "emotional, gripping, often dark yet frequently charming" and the most graphically-stunning Halo game yet. "Magical from start to finish, forget game of the year - this is the game of the century."
This is the most compelling story a Halo game has ever told, says Chris Watters on Gamespot. Halo 4 features "excellent combat, pacing, and environmental design" and the multiplayer option is "a blast", but the "thrilling and emotional" relationship of Master Chief and Cortana (who is nearing the end of her AI lifespan) is the real highlight.
The gun-play is great, the sound design is "best-in-class" and the mesmerising computer graphics "flat-out knock you on your ass", says Ryan McCaffrey on IGN.
What they don't like
It's tough trying to give a game like Halo new life, says Paul Tassi in Forbes. Halo 4′s campaign is adequate, but with any fourth, fifth or sixth game in the series, we've seen it all before. Fans will welcome it, but Halo is no longer "pushing the envelope in any significant way".