Title: Halo Infinite
Developer: 343 Industries
Release Date: December 8, 2021
Reviewed On: Xbox Series X
The tales of Master Chief resonate with gamers with an emphasis on masculine militarism and science fiction. It’s the ultimate adventure for any nerd who loves to rush in first and ask questions later. However, Halo as a narrative did something interesting for many players as it went beyond the explosions and multiplayer modes to provide a character we believed in. The best moments of Halo Infinite draw upon that statement as we get everything we love about the series and way way more.
Halo Infinite’s campaign is a tragedy. The human race doesn’t stand a chance, but Master Cheif has been given the opportunity for one last shot to save it all. Unfortunately, the enemy race known as the Banish has seemingly won the war, which doesn’t seem to sit well with our armor-clad hero.
There’s a lot to spoil in explaining this story because its rollout is expertly paced to keep players forced to push forward. As Master Chief, you will learn to hate the banish and the group of antagonist and spartan hunters that stand in your way. Perhaps not in the beginning, but you learn of the destruction these foes have caused, and you use that as your fuel to press on, against all odds.
Events are well-paced, and character interactions become the sole reason you even care about victory. Master Chief himself appears to have flaws, and that all comes to light in this new adventure. But this is a story of heroes, and at no point does the narrative forget that. Still, heroes fall sometimes, and that’s something that players understand from the opening.
Halo Infinite doesn’t forget its roots, even with a new open-world design. Each landmass features optional events and basses to claim for potential fast travel. However, everything is condensed here, and nothing feels out of reach. It keeps the action going and confusion about what to do next at a minimum.
You’re given a grappling hook early on, which is the most significant edition of Chief’s loadout. It allows you not only to scale large cliff sides, but after a while, you can master its use and swing around corners, peg enemies, and event dodge attacks. I used it as often as possible and thought it meshed well within the Halo universe.
However, other abilities introduced aren’t as functional. As you go through the game, you unlock placable shields and even a dedicated dodge, but accessing them quickly was cumbersome. You need to use the d-pad to access a menu, where another d-pad press is tied to the ability. Doing this in combat could result in a quick death as it just takes too long. This meant that I typically just had the grappling hook equipped and got by okay. Still, it’s possible to upgrade these abilities, so you can just focus on whichever one you use most of.
Expanding on the idea that this game doesn’t forget its roots. Throughout the adventure, you’ll come across linear dungeons dressed in a familiar way to the first entries in the series. It makes the entire experience somewhat nostalgic, but I admit that I wouldn’t say I liked how some of these dungeons seemed to repeat rooms more often than I’d like.
Outside of this, you have waves of enemies at every turn. Electric abilities add an elemental touch to combat and a handful of new enemies to take down. The Spartan Hunters are a fun bunch that shows up and really tests your skills to adapt to situations without much warning. The game can be challenging, but there is a very forgiving autosave system.
I will say that it’s a missed opportunity not to have a co-op campaign available at launch. Like most, this was my preferred way to play this series. Unfortunately, it caused me to experience most of the campaign alone without the commentary from a friend sitting next to me.
Halo Infinite is a beautiful game. The environments have a sense of scale and verticality that make them fun to explore. Further, the random enemy camps and optional objects aren’t forgotten about as every inch of the map seems to have some love poured into it. The character and enemy’s designs are great, and the entire experience feels like something only Halo can provide.
The sound design of the weapons is also impressive as each weapon, no matter if it was a kinetic gun or plasma rife, sounded great. The conversations between grunts are also as charming as ever. Further, special weapons can be obtained by taking down powerful enemies. These weapons can then be created while visiting any of your captured bases, so it’s always possible to carry around your favorite weapons.
Halo Infinite is science-fiction storytelling at its best. The best thing about this entry is that it knows what it is. This is a story of a hero, and whether you self-identify with him or not, you’re going to immerse yourself in his resolve. While upgrades and the lack of a co-op campaign limit some enjoyment, this is the game Halo fans have been waiting for. It’s a proud day for Master Chief, but mostly developer 343 Industries, for putting together such a memorable experience.
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