Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Legend of 117

This evening, I completed Halo 4, solo, on Legendary Difficulty.  One thing about playing a a game on its hardest difficulty is that you really get to see its strengths and weaknesses, and usually the later more than the former.

I greatly enjoyed the game's story telling, and it's the most beautiful title in the franchise and one of the best looking Xbox 360 games around.  The soundtrack is very well done, and while many of the new Forerunner weapons aren't innovative, they are quite handy.  I personally really loved Chapters 1, 4, and most of 7, which were engaging, challenging, and thoroughly well designed.

In terms of the cons, I generally found the level design very inconsistent, where several other Chapters had really bad layouts with little cover, making things all the more challenging (but in a frustrating way).  I also found Armour Abilities far less useful than in Halo: Reach, and Sprinting, now a standard feature, seemed less effective as well.  The vehicle implementation in the game is also atrocious, and I seriously can't believe how much 343 Industries fouled them up.

Well, for those of you looking to tackle Legendary Difficulty solo, here's my general tips:

- Really take your time and don't rush.  Pick enemies off from afar slowly and safely if you can, and conserve ammo.  When in doubt, stick to cover.

- I generally found Armour Abilities pretty useless, though Autosentry is handy for a little extra firepower or a temporary distraction.  Since it takes several seconds to deploy though, be careful where you use it so you don't get killed.  Hardlight Shield can also come in handy for a quick reprieve from damage as you try to back into cover to allow your Shields to recharge.

- Against Covenant, the best loadout is a precision weapon with a Plasma Pistol.  The classic noob combo still makes short work of Elites, and your precision weapon of choice will be effective against Grunts and Jackals.  A note on Jackals though:  the double tap (shooting them through the space in their Energy Shield, then popping them in the head when the recoil) doesn't always work properly, and I've generally noticed Halo 4's hit detection is a little off at times.  This means that even when you get that hit on a Jackal's head, there's a chance it won't actually register, allowing them to recover.  Very frustrating.

- Against Prometheans, your best loadout is a Light Rifle and Scattershot.  The Light Rifle is my go-to weapon in the game, packing a nice punch when scoped.  Headshots on Crawlers are one-hit-kills, and rapid firing can really soften up Knights as you close in for a kill with the Scattershot.  If you do this quickly after eliminating other threats in the area, you can actually drop Knights pretty easily.  Up close two to three Scattershot blasts will kill a Knight with full shields.  Of course, if you can get an Incineration Cannon take that over the Scattershot.  One hit kill on any Knight.

- The Sticky Detonator is awesome.  In Chapter 7, always have one handy and use it on Elites or to obliterate clusters of Grunts and Jackals.

- Banshees are garbage to use, and a royal pain to fight.  In most Banshee encounters, at least early on, you'll often find a Rocket Launcher lying around that will help.  Later on, in non-Mantis battles against them, try to avoid as best as you can or use a Banshee yourself to try to Boost past and escape.  That may take several attempts to succeed.

- Many doors in the game close and lock behind you, making it harder to go back and scavenge ammo for preferred weapons and often trapping you out in the open with no cover.  Extremely frustrating.  Whenever you can, stay in a doorway and pick enemies off to maximum effect before moving on.

- The Checkpoint system in Halo 4 is the least active and thus the worst in the franchise.  Sadly, you will repeat far too many battles due to its poor design, and many great moments or successful battle will be rendered void when some lucky enemy drops you a few minutes later.  All I can suggest is to take breathers if you get too frustrated with having to repeat the same thing over while waiting for the game to finally save your progress.

Unlike past titles, I found Halo 4's Legendary had far more trial and error going on, and far less actual strategy used.  This was mainly due to the inconsistent level design and lackluster Checkpoint system, which is a bloody shame.  Overall, I'd have to say I was more frustrated by playing through on Legendary than enjoying myself, in stark contrast to Halo: Reach.

Still, Halo 4 is a good first attempt by 343 Industries, but they do have lots to learn and so much fine tuning to do.  Hopefully their next title will be of more consistent and higher quality.

No comments: