2012's year of gaming is coming to a close and that means Neoseeker is deep in deliberation over its "Game of the Year" award. In the months of December and early January each of Neoseeker's 10 nominees for Game of the Year will be profiled. Join in the discussion, speculate on the nominees, and subtly persuade us which game deserves such an honorable award.
Our seventh "Game of the Year" nominee is a title that hardly needs any introduction: Halo 4. In 2012, we saw major changes for the franchise, as the series officially changed hands between Bungie and Microsoft's prodigal 343 Industries. The former moved on to greener pastures (read: Activision) while the latter inherited a massive franchise, along with a huge community and the responsibilities that went with that.
Halo will never be the same again, but 343i has shown us that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. While they've done their share of work on the series, namely through Halo Waypoint and multiplayer content, this is the studio's first time developing a full Halo title from beginning to end. What we got was Master Chief's triumphant return, the arrival of a new enemy, and so much more that'd tickle any Halo fan completely pink.
Why Halo 4 is great:
- Master Chief x Cortana - One of modern gaming's most beloved duos, the chemistry between Chief and his A.I. companion has been missing ever since Halo 3. Sure, we've met a few interesting characters since then, but the dynamic between these iconic characters was never actually replicated. To see them working together again, relying on each other while all of humanity sat on their shoulders, is a comfortingly familiar thing. Incomplete on their own, Chief and Cortana are really at their best when paired with each other, and for Halo fans, their return felt very much like seeing old friends after years apart.
- Return of wonderment - 343 Industries made a promise to bring back that sense of awe Halo: Combat Evolved possessed, the feeling of exploring new worlds that were never seen before. To accomplish this, the developers turned to Forerunner tech and delved into Halo's robust (sometimes dizzying) expanded universe for content. So much effort was put into this mantra, of restoring mystery and awe, that every backdrop demanded As a result, even the most faithful of Halo players were treated to something new, and those who follow the expanded stuff got to see some of it in a video game for the first time. This opens up a pretty wide range of possibilities for the new trilogy.
- Even better with friends - Social gaming, like it or not, is bigger than ever. Certain shooters and core games have always catered to this concept, long before the Wii line became such a massive hit, and Halo was always part of that breed. This hasn't changed in Halo 4, where the game's appeal is multiplied by its replayability in co-op and an overhauled multiplayer system. It retains the flavor of Halo, while adopting newer features found in the series' biggest competitor Call of Duty, which could be either a good or bad thing depending on your personal stance.
The shift from Bungie to 343i certainly left a few concerns, and even after Halo 4, some still linger, despite whatever praises it also received. There are those who think it's changed too much, and then some that complain it hasn't change enough. Whatever the case, Halo 4 earns itself recognition as a nominee on our Game of the Year list for numerous reasons, but those who've waited years to see Master Chief and Cortana again hardly need any convincing.
Halo has a bright future still ahead of it, even with Bungie no longer at the helm, and I, for one, am really looking forward to seeing more.
Neoseeker Game of the Year nominees:
- The Walking Dead
- Hotline Miami
- Darksiders II
- Assassin's Creed III
- Far Cry 3
- Halo 4
- Guild Wars 2
- Dota 2
Also, check out and vote in our community Game of the Year poll, where the current leader is Borderlands 2.