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The controls for Halo 4 have changed a bit, yet the game keeps the same overall multi-axis movement/aiming scheme that has set the standard for console shooters. X is still reload, A is still jump, Y still changes weapons and RB still melees…however gamers can now sprint at any time throughout the game without having to use an Armor Ability. Unfortunately there is no flashlight in Halo 4, but it's just a minor thing and there aren't many areas where you'd need a flashlight anyway.

The game's HUD (Heads Up Display) is incredibly detailed and actually shows many new things that weren't featured in any other Halo game. To me, the small things speak volumes, and the HUD screen actually makes you feel as if you're wearing a MJOLNIR helmet. There's new readouts as well as the standard targeting reticules and tacmap (tactical map) that displays enemies on-screen.

Pressing the right analog stick while a non-scoped weapon is equipped opens a nice zoom feature with a crosshair, allowing players to have pinpoint accuracy even with weapons like the Assault Rifle and Storm Rifle.

Overall the game mechanics are very fluid and graceful, allowing gamers to perform easily in battle. Everything is where it should be, and it only takes a few minutes to acclimate and adapt to the game's control scheme.

The game nixs the healthbars found in Halo Reach, keeping Halo 3's shield-only interface. Depending on the difficulty, players can absorb a decent amount of damage, and then take cover to recharge their shield. An understanding of how the shield works and timing your attacks just right is essential in any Halo game,

Halo 4's massive new arsenal of weaponry is another exciting addition to the campaign. Throughout the eight-mission story players will make use of nearly every weapon in the game–some of which are multiplayer-only–against the deadly Promeatheans and Covenant factions. Every weapon has been giving an overhaul, yet the classics–such as the DMR, Battle Rifle, Assault Rifle and Magnum–still operate just as they did before.

The Covenant Carbine seems to be far more accurate and has a high rate of fire, providing for an excellent weapon for mid to long range accuracy, whereas weapons like the Promethean Scattershot, which acts like a CQC (close quarters combat) shotgun, is only useful when up-close.

The weapons themselves are sorted into three different types: UNSC class weaponry (which includes all the standard human firearms), Covenant class weapons (the alien plasma-powered guns) and finally the strange and unusual high tech Promeathean weaponry, which ranges from assault type guns to precise and accurate rifles like the Binary Rifle. Each class of weapons has their own distinct type of weapons that are usually broken down into three different designations: close-range, mid-to-long-range, and automatic firing weapons.

This massive arsenal is filled to the brim with brand new guns, each having their own balanced strengths and weaknesses. Many classics–like the Energy Sword or the Beam Rifle–are still in, but its fun to play with the Promethean guns every now and then as well. The huge selection of weaponry only adds to Halo 4's enjoyability and gives players the chance to mix-and-match to find their perfect firearm dream team.

Halo 4's graphics and visuals are amazing, offering an incredible visual experience that gets better the farther you get in campaign. The Halo games have been well known for raising the bar in terms of in-game visuals and gameplay mechanics, and Halo 4 redefines the standard for quality, ushering in a new age of graphics and gameplay mechanics.

343i has created a thriving and dynamic world that's replete with extremely photorealistic environments, with sprawling vistas that span miles into the horizon.

The game's storyline continues Halo's epic scale, expanding upon the ultimate intergalactic sci-fi Hero's Journey and touching upon a part of the Halo canon that has been shrouded in mystery: the Forerunners. Halo 4's campaign digs deep into the history fo the Forerunners, exposing an ancient evil and the last hope for humanity in the process. This new chapter of the franchise is just the beginning, setting the tone and plot for the Reclaimer Trilogy, a series of stories that will span across the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

With three different game modes–Campaign, Spartan Ops and War Games–Halo 4 has something for everyone and affords immense replay value with new Challenges and the dynamic multiplayer ranking system. Whether you're the type of gamer who enjoys playing solo or with friends over Xbox LIVE, Halo 4 provides for an enjoyable experience every time and truly adds considerable wealth the Halo universe.

Overall, Halo 4's gameplay mechanics are every bit as enjoyable as the previous games, while building on their foundation with a multitude of new features and additions. The in-game cinematic sequences are flawless and perfectly compliment the game's excellent story arc. Gameplay is fluid and refined, giving players the chance to roam throughout campaign or multiplayer with ease and battle the new Prometheans or other Spartan IV warriors in simulated operations.

Altogether Halo 4's mechanics are masterfully balanced and hold with them the weight of the franchise, proving that 343 Industries has mastered the craft of the Halo universe.

Derek Strickland
Derek is an avid fan of gaming and everything geeky, and is compelled to make his mark in the field of games journalism. When he's not gaming on a console (everything from SNES to X360) you can find him reading about ancient civilizations or enjoying a fantasy epic or two.

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