Halo: Infinite Review

It is difficult to overestimate impact that Microsoft main franchise as a platform holder has on modern gaming industry and media culture. Overview of the Halo Infinity story campaign.

Halo: Infinite Review
The return of the flagship: Halo Infinite - a review of a computer game for Xbox One.

More than a dozen games in different genres, more than 30 novels based on the motives, animated series, as well as a full-fledged TV adaptation, which is being prepared for release, and tens of millions of fans around the world. The release of the new numbered part is simply doomed to the maximum attention of the public. And today, finally, the long six years that have passed since the last chapter of the adventures of the Spartan 117 Master Chief have come to an end. Company Uniongames.net I have studied the storyline of Microsoft Halo Infinity and we are in a hurry to tell you about it in detail.

First of all, it is worth noting what a difficult situation the 343 Industries team found themselves in when developing Halo Infinite. The plot part of the previous numbered part of the saga, Halo 5: Guardians, received, to put it mildly, not the warmest reception from both fans and critics. The reason for this, first of all, was the complete discrepancy between the main conflict presented in the game's advertising campaign and what the players saw after the release. And numerous characters poorly written into the plot and inept staging also played a role. This time there was no room for error. 343i from the first days of development promised us a triumphant return to the roots. In front of the audience, they formed the image of a kind of spiritual heir of Halo: Combat Evolved. Microsoft even went all in and launched a large-scale PR campaign in the spirit of the Xbox 360 era games with themed cinematic videos and giant advertising banners in the largest cities of the world. And there is no denying that this approach has done its job.

But what about the game itself? So, the Master Chief, in pursuit of his former colleague, AI Cortana, who declared herself the patroness of all forms of artificial intelligence and unleashed a war with the entire galaxy, finds himself in the orbit of the Zeta ring, which at the time of the events of the game turned into a battlefield between the UNSC and the Banished (Banished) – a faction that broke away from the Covenant, first introduced in Halo Wars 2. The plot starts after six months of the Spartan drifting in outer space from the moment of meeting with the pilot of the UNSC – Echo-216. However, the joy of the latter was short-lived, and instead of the long-awaited return home, the heroes go to the surface of the ring to pick up Weapons (the game is not particularly exchanged for the normal names of the main characters and is limited to call signs) - an AI designed to destroy Cortana. The unification of the trinity is followed by a series of events, including a confrontation with the Exiles led by Esharum – the former mentor, and now the right hand of Atriox, who spoiled the life of Captain Cutter and the crew of the Spirit of Fire in Halo Wars 2. A more detailed story about the plot will inevitably entail a bunch of spoilers, but something else is much more important. 343 Industries drew the right conclusions from the story of Halo 5, and the Infinite plot does not contain filler characters, which were members of the Master Chief and Jameson Lock squads, introducing a minimum of new actors and almost completely getting rid of the old minor characters who did not receive development in Halo 5. Also, Infinite does not require prior acquaintance with the expanded ent of the Halo universe. Yes, in the games of the series, it's still better for you to more or less navigate, but it's not necessary to read a dozen books in front of Infinite now.

Nevertheless, you can't call the new story trouble-free either. Firstly, many of the consequences of the previous part of Infinite leaves behind the scenes. How did Cortana stand up to humanity and other races in the galaxy? How did the Exiles end up on the Zeta Ring? The answers to these and many other questions, which I cannot talk about without spoilers, the game either does not give at all, or casually speaks in additional ways of narration, such as audio diaries, or is limited to a couple of words in cutscenes. Well, on top of everything else, the finale does not put a bold dot, but leaves the door open for continuation in the form of a full-fledged game or plot additions, which were previously discussed in 343i. Thus, the story told in Halo Infinite, although very good in itself, but still keeps apart from the rest of the saga. In part, this approach is understandable – the screenwriters tried their best to distance themselves from the failures of Halo 5, and this is very noticeable, but still, in my opinion, rejecting the problems of the predecessor, the developers went a little too far.

In addition to the fascinating plot, the second leg, on which Halo stood from the first days, is a unique gameplay and approach to level design. And in Halo Infinite, the developers decided to thoroughly shake up the series from this side. As we wrote earlier in our preview, Halo Infinite offers the concept of an open world within a limited area of the ring surface. As expected, this approach has both a number of advantages and obvious disadvantages. Separately, it should be noted that when building the structure of plot tasks, developers prefer closed rooms. Most often, important events from the point of view of history take place in the interiors of the ships and bases of the Exiles, as well as inside the Forerunner buildings. They are also released into the fresh air, but most often such missions play rather a connecting role between significant events. And this negatively affects the scope of events. The game is very much lacking epic battles and large-scale stages with technology, as it was, for example, in Halo 3 (battles with Scarabs will forever remain in my heart) and Halo Reach. Even the parts from 343i previously offered something similar – a fighter flight in Halo 4 and the destruction of the Kraken in Halo 5 immediately pops up in memory. Infinite is most often limited to shootouts in spacious arenas. Of some epic moments, one can only recall a short ride on a Ghost (Covenant tank) under the title theme of the series, but this is not enough.

However, the game tries to compensate for the shortcomings of the plot setting with activities in the open world. Do not think that we are facing another representative of games with similar mechanics, who has fallen victim to modern trends. Halo Infinite offers, in fact, a standard set of entertainment in the open world, including the liberation of captured UNSC outposts, the collection of collectible materials, the release of captured Marines, the destruction of key enemy structures and the elimination of particularly dangerous targets presented in the form of mini-bosses. But nevertheless, the novelty does not insist at all that you necessarily go to do all this.

Yes, participation in additional activities has a number of positive aspects. If only because it's fun. First of all, thanks to the successful fusion of the classic Halo gameplay formula with its variety of weapon combinations, which, as before, has its own clearly defined areas of application, and the specifics of open locations. The game offers you a conditional goal, and the entry point, so to speak, is already determined by you. For example, you need to destroy a fortified Brutus base. At the same time, you have several options for action at once. You can rely only on yourself and, armed with a couple of barrels, join the battle. You can make your task a little easier and, having previously armed yourself with a sniper rifle, climb up to the elevation, after which you can reduce the ranks of the enemy without unnecessary risk, or you can even request a Scorpion tank (if there are enough Valor points, this is an accumulated resource that you are awarded for completing optional tasks), after which you arrange a real nightmare for the enemy. Battles with mini-bosses bring even more variety, as each of them requires preliminary preparation, especially at high difficulty levels. On the legendary, I had to sweat a lot, luring the invisible Elite into battle, while simultaneously fighting off reinforcements. Some of the bosses use the technique altogether. In general, it is difficult to say that the developers have approached the issue of implementing additional activities carelessly.

Concluding the story about the gameplay, I would like to say a few words about the opponents. I am glad to inform you that the developers, in the words of the game's creative director Joseph Staten, have sent the Prometheans, the enemies presented in Halo 4, to a well-deserved rest. And it had a positive effect on the balance of difficulty of the game. There are no more situations when an enemy teleported like a cheater, finding himself right in front of the player's nose, and then sent him to the nearest checkpoint with one blow (we all remember that there is no difficulty lower than heroic in Halo, right?).

In general, Halo Infinite offers an adequate challenge, exposing rather clever enemies against the player, but at the same time their actions remain readable and predictable. The latter, however, often does not apply to plot bosses. Almost always, in collisions with the latter, flashbacks from Halo 2 surfaced in my mind, which liked to put the player in very unfair conditions, from which it was possible to get out of high difficulty only at the cost of a dozen reboots of the checkpoint, seasoned with a pinch of banal luck. For example, a couple of times you will meet brutus bosses armed with a jetpack and a gravimolot. To understand– they will have to deal a ton of damage by combining weapons and grenades in order to first remove the shields, and then quickly finish them off, continuing the offensive to prevent them from restoring protection. The boss can easily object to all this by jumping on a jetpack for a huge distance, after which he can kill the hero with one hammer blow. At first it seems very dishonest, and various obscenities against developers come to mind. But every time after the battle, I realized that in order to win, I had to think carefully about what to shoot at the enemy from, how to use the environment correctly, as well as additional equipment, like the same cat hook, stationary shield and dodge, trying to dodge the bastard's cheating attacks.

Of course, speaking about the visual performance of the game, it is impossible not to mention, to put it mildly, the expressionless appearance in which Halo Infinite appeared before the audience in the first show of the campaign in the summer of 2020. Since then, only a lazy person has not kicked her for low-detailed textures, poor models of opponents and low-quality lighting. The result was the postponement of the release for a whole year, and the fact that this gave its results is noticeable at first glance at the final product. Comparing the final game with the frames of the gameplay trailer, it is impossible not to notice that literally every element of the picture has undergone serious revision. Yes, Halo Infinite does not drop your jaw to the floor, but, nevertheless, the graphics turned out to be very pleasant. The game world looks great. Pleasant lighting, coupled with a cycle of day and night, textures overgrown with a bunch of details, like scratches and surface roughness, increased drawing range – everything looks great, albeit without frills. Although, of course, there is not enough implementation of weather effects. And separately I want to scold the long-term construction for the low variety of locations. Globally, the game offers only three options for the environment: the surface of the ring, covered with greenery, the interiors of the bases of the Exiles and the interior decoration of the Forerunners. I would like to see at least a greater variety of biomes on the surface.

But there are no complaints about the sound. Starting with the voice acting of the characters (especially charming and perky turned out to be a Weapon, played by the same Jen Taylor, who gave her voice to Cortana and Dr. Halsey) and ending with the sound of guns and grenade explosions. The soundtrack also leaves pleasant impressions. After a successful experiment in Halo 4, but still breaking out of the general musical style and inexpressive mediocrity in Halo 5, Halo Infinite returns to work with Marty O'Donnell's material, while not hitting banal copying. The new compositions contain both distinct motifs of the original trilogy, as well as a large amount of new material and original arrangements.

Surely you, reading the text of the review, traced the idea that the developers, avoiding obvious failures, still, so to speak, did not finish a number of points. However, this does not mean that the game was unsuccessful. This is an exciting adventure that tries very hard to return the love of long-time fans, and it cannot be said that he does not succeed. Halo Infinite is definitely one of the most enjoyable releases of the year. We, in turn, will be waiting with you for news about the further development of the project.

We will tell you about the network component of the game in a separate review after the official release of the multiplayer from the open beta status.