Surprisingly the man who has written a bunch of articles centred around FPS games and Sci-Fi is also a fan of Halo, who’d have thought it huh?! However, that fan love doesn’t mean I have a rose-tinted visor on my helmet when it comes to the last few years of alien splattering. Halo 4 and 5 were both incredibly…average? Which is saying something when the series is known for being a fairly basic arcade shooter. Now though, it seems like the team at 343i have finally figured out the formula to a Halo game, and Halo Infinite is the culmination of that discovery.
I’ve had a good feeling about Infinite, even as far back as the infamous ‘Craig the Brute’ gameplay trailer so knew I’d go into this review a little biased. Even with my own feelings, there is no doubt that Infinite is everything 343i promised and then some. Taking place almost entirely on the shattered Zeta Halo, Infinite is perhaps the most isolated feeling game in the series as the Chief takes on wave after wave of The Banished. To help him along Chief has the help of Echo 216, a cowardly Pelican pilot and a suspiciously familiar AI known only as “Weapon”. All of this comes together to make this game feel like everything is on the Chief’s back. Sure, all the other games have solo missions and objectives, but none made it feel like John was all alone most of the time. This isolation has the added benefit of making you feel like a god of destruction as you clear Banished camps and progress to the next story beat. While the Chief is alone however, this might also be the most humanising instalment of the series as you watch 117 come to terms with a few catastrophic losses and just keep moving forward. Without spoilers it’s tricky to explain exactly what I mean but just trust me when I say I’ve never felt more attached to the green armoured hero before.
The world of Zeta Halo is beautiful, though it isn’t the first open world in the series like some people are suggesting, seemingly forgetting about ODST… It is the first time it feels like it’s been done well. As the Chief you are free to wander all over broken up islands of grassland, forests and occasionally Forerunner structure. I took a lot of pleasure in hijacking a Banshee fighter and flying around the landscape just taking it all in before I dropped into the next battle. The open world has the usual tropes with a world map, and points of interest. You’ll find Banished bases that need clearing, marine groups who need saving and FOB’s (Forward Operating Bases) that need claiming. Each of these FOB’s clear the fog of war a little and show you where a few targets might be. Luckily unlike other open world titles, the map seems to be just the right size so that your quest to unlock everything never becomes tedious. Plus, your reward for clearing FOB’s and side quests is Valor to unlock more vehicles and weapons, which makes exploring the map child’s play.
Speaking of weapons! Of course, this wouldn’t be Halo without plenty of grenade laden combat. Most of the weapons handle the same as they have for years but with a few subtle tweaks. It took a lot for any weapon to seem outright bad, I had my favourites but overall, you’re in for a good time whatever gun/melee weapon you get your little mitts on. I will give a shout out to the Skewer though, a Banished weapon which launches a foot long blade right through whoever happens to be unlucky enough to be in your sights. Most enemies seem to struggle with basic aim even on the Heroic difficulty, but if you come across a major villain you’ll be in for a world of hurt, and even worse if you see the tell-tale laser sights of the infamous Sniper Jackals…
While there is a glaring lack of co-op gameplay and the missing Forge Mode has led a fair few fans to claim that they won’t be purchasing this instalment, these people need to get a grip. Sure, Forge is wonderful, but do you know what else is wonderful? This campaign. I’ve had a great time clearing the map and experiencing the story and wouldn’t change it at all. 343i have finally made a Halo game that seems to actually be what the fans wanted, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. If you have the opportunity, then definitely give this one a go!