Halo 4 launches on Xbox 360 today

Among Windows Phone owners, a great many also have Xbox 360 consoles. And the most popular first-party franchise for the 360 is undoubtedly Halo. We first caught a glimpse of Halo 4 in motion during Microsoft’s E3 keynote earlier this year, and today the game has arrived at last. That’s right, you can walk into a store right now and pick up Halo 4. If you’re a dedicated fan, you probably did so even before reading this article. Everyone else, read on to learn about the latest (and likely final) Halo release of this console generation.

The story so far

In case you somehow missed 2007’s Halo 3, a plot recap might be in order. At the end of that game, Master Chief destroyed a massive alien called the Ark in order to defeat an entity called the Gravemind that controlled one of humanity’s greatest threats, the Flood species. In doing so, the ship carrying the Master Chief and his AI companion Cortana was hurled through a portal into deep space. Humanity assumed them lost, though the Chief had actually gone into cryostasis to await a rescue.

Back in action

Halo 4 Covenant

Darn those Covenant!

In Halo 4, Master Chief awakens on an alien world to encounter a new threat: the Prometheans. These strange and different enemies possess their own unique weapons (which players can also wield) and will require different tactics to defeat than previous enemies. On top of that, the Covenant also return (but not the Flood) in more dangerous form. The campaign features impressive cinematics, a greater focus on story, and a faster pace than Halo 3. That’s all quite welcome, as I was slightly underwhelmed with Halo 3’s disjointed campaign story.

Multiplayer evolved

Spartan Ops mode

Like several previous games, Halo 4 supports 4-player campaign co-op with up to two split-screen players on each console. The campaign sadly lacks Matchmaking though, so you’ll need to invite your own friends if you want to experience the story as a team. The popular cooperative Firefight mode has been replaced with the brand-new Spartan Ops mode. This revolutionary feature promises to deliver five new story-based missions per week for the foreseeable feature, all free. It seems like a great way to keep non-competitive players engaged with the game just as long as competitive ones.

Naturally Halo 4 features the most advanced competitive multiplayer features the series has ever seen. Versus multiplayer is now presented as a training exercise between Spartans aboard a giant UNSC ship. Tying all three modes (Campaign, Spartan Ops, and Multiplayer) together is a brand new progression system. Completing challenges in any mode contributes towards your very own customizable Spartan’s progress. The further you advance, the more visual customizations and new abilities you’ll unlock. For more details, check out Co-Optimus’ Halo 4 Co-Op Review and Co-Op FAQ.

Windows Phone connection

Now that Halo 4 is out, an update to the mobile Halo Waypoint app is all but guaranteed. One of the Waypoint’s current features is Halo ATLAS, which provides SmartGlass-like functionality for Halo Reach. Microsoft has the choice of adding Halo 4 support to their recently launched SmartGlass app or Halo Waypoint. Both apps are cross-platform rather than Windows Phone exclusives, so neither option will benefit our platform more than the other. Microsoft hasn’t said one way or the other which route they’ll take on Halo 4 mobile integration, so we’ll have to wait and see.

Let’s just hope they muster up enough confidence in Windows Phone 8 to finally release a mobile Halo game. Considering WP8 will be home to graphically intense first-person shooters like N.O.V.A. 3 (itself a Halo clone) and Modern Combat 4 (both recently announced by Gameloft), the big MS really has no excuse not to throw its own mobile platform the bone that fans want and deserve.

A new team at the helm

Previous mainline Halo games came the series’ creator Bungie Studios. Halo 4 marks the first game to come from Microsoft’s new studio 343 Industries. By all accounts, their inaugural game not only lives up to series expectations, it exceeds them. Pick it up at retail and I’ll see you on Xbox Live!

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Got to get this
  • Definitely!
  • Got it and loving it! The original Halo was the game that got me back into gaming from when I was a kid.
  • Halo 4!!!!!
  • Just got my copy of Halo 4 today! I would also like to inform Mr. Paul Acevedo that Gameloft's Modern Warfare 4 is not called Modern Warfare 4. It is indeed called Modern Combat 4.
  • Whoops, little slip there. You can just call me Paul though; no need to type out my whole name when commenting on an article I wrote. I'll know who you're addressing. :)
  • Aight. Thanks Paul. :)
  • I'm buying this once my Wife and I finally finish the anniversary edition.  We've beat all the other Halo games co-op/together except for Halo 1. :)  
  • That. Is awesome...how I (and certainly others) envy you =D
  • I got it yesterday and passed it in 5 hrs. I have to say it was by far THE BEST halo game I have played. Even better than halo 1. the story line really had me all the way through. Graphics are amazing and the cinematics in CGI look so freaking real. The ending was so sad :(
  • Let's not give out ending spoilers, man.
  • Oh don't worry. I won't be spoiling anything :)
  • You just said the ending is sad, that usually means somebody dies, so thnx a lot.
  • His comment is a spoiler, anything related to the story is a spoiler. Se my other comment. I suggest you delete this posts to protect others. Certainly destroyed my experience.
  • Oh ya. Its frag city over here. 150" HD screen, 300 watt sub, Mountain Dew, pizza. Its gonna be a long night.
  • It's amazing! An improvement over previous Halo games in every way. We missed you Master Chief. :)
  • Loving it! It's reminding me of the first time I played Halo 1 which is definitely a good thing. :)
  • I've finished it in 4 hours since yesterday, the ending is so cut off. Saddening too because of cortana, and I'm not sure if this is the last battle with the forerunners.
  • what the hell man, how about not giving spoilers in comments?!
  • Picked up my copy right before i went to vote, now i'll be up all night playing the campaign
  • I got it today
  • I will be getting it soon. Verrrry sooon. Mwahahaha!
  • Great game, I'm half way through it with my brother
  • Where's the Halo 4 Smartglass functionality as shown at E3? I have my Surface ready to rock that sh1t ;-)
  • Oh and Halo 4 is a superb game! The franchise needed a graphical overhaul and it is fantastic...
  • I tried smart glass on my lumia 800 and it just says your device is missing certain features to use it. Anyone else tried smart glass with halo?
  • As the article states, SmartGlass features are not live yet.
  • That will teach me to skim-read articles!
  • Hell of a game kind of short 5 hours campaign isn't enough :P
  • People complaining about campaign length? 4 hours? You playing it on easy? Stick it on legendary and turn a load of skulls on. Then talk about campaign length.
  • I have to also agree that 5 hours for the main campaign length if people have reported accurately is killing it for me. I know a large part of the allure with Halo is multiplayer but there's no way in hell I'm shelling out $60 for a game that only has 5 hours gameplay in the main campaign. I'm currently playing AC3, have sunk over 15 hours in to solo campaign and feel I haven't even scratched the surface yet. I haven't even touched the multiplayer yet! Sorry, but I don't care how good a AAA title is, that's just sticking it to the consumer when the main campaign is all over in less than double digits. Crossing that one of the Christmas list, will wait until its less than $20 pre-owned.
  • Played the heck out of Halo CE, played Halo 2 through three times, played Halo 3 and Reach through once.  Halo 4 is pretty to look at but didn't feel particularly compelling.  I made it about halfway though level 1 before putting it  aside and picking up a book.  If the campaign is really only 4-5 hrs then this is pretty certainly the last Halo for me; I never really got into the multiplayer stuff and Halo has increasingly become focused on multiplayer.
  • Great game fun to play as expected but it DOES NOT sync with waypoint
  • why didn't microsoft port this game to windows phone 8 ? please someone give me an explaination , thank in advance