Of Spartans and Men (2) - Gaming Thoughts

Halo: Infinite
by developer 343 Industries and publisher Xbox Game StudiosMicrosoft Xbox Series X gaming thoughts written by Pierre-Yves with a Game Pass subscription.

Check out the first Of Spartans and Men in regards to Halo: ODST.

Continuously having big shoes to fill, 343 Industries have continued Master Chief's saga through the likes of Halo 4 and Halo 5 without missing a beat. With a long break in between however, Halo: Infinite is finally here and I've found myself wondering if it has been worth the wait.

I've now been playing games for over three decades and while I have a tendency to lean towards Role Playing Games, Strategy Role Playing Games, Turned Based Role Playing Games, Action / Adventure Role Playing Games and blowing up a sentence for no good reason, blame the French in me, I love a good shooter. Starting all the way back when games fit on 3.5" floppies with Doom II, I've shot my way through hell, space and the apocalypse numerous times.

Doom II, Wolfenstein, Hexen, Quake, Golden Eye, Perfect Dark, each had their own charm until this revolutionary first person shooter called Halo was released for the original Xbox. Not having had an Xbox myself, Halo is what I constantly found myself playing with friends whenever we got together either in co-op against the forces of the Covenant or those of the Flood. The controls were slick and smooth and on a console! Move towards Halo 2, Halo 3, I had originally missed out on ODST (check out the original Of Spartans and Men) before all we ever did was Halo Reach which is when I finally had my own Xbox.

Each entry into this series showed a bit more of what could be achieved and while this originally left so many others in the dust, by the time Halo 4 and Halo 5 released under a new studio and direction, the name of the game had already been defined and redefined and the big players had moved past what Bungie had put into place all those years back before they themselves moved onto another Destiny. Heh... see what I did there?

This is not to say that at least Halo 4 wasn't something else for the series as I absolutely loved the integration of a real story on top of solid gameplay mechanics, but with other stellar adventures out there such as Bioshock, Borderlands, Bulletstorm and the new Wolfenstein(s) that would come later amongst others, it was a solid experience but not one that redefined anything. Again, this isn't a bad thing as sometimes having a good experience is better than to be left wanting.

This however is where I'm finding myself so far with Halo: Infinite. Starting off with a heavy enough narrative even though Master Chief is not really doing the talking, there's soon a shift from the straight lines into an open world arena which lets you decide where you want to go first. Do you save captured marines? Take over a forward operating base (FOB) or stick it to the Banished and their seemingly endless amounts of troops?

Getting into the swing of things, I started to poke and prod at each type of situation while blasting my way through each with kinetic, shock and energy weapons before squeeing a bit at getting my hands on both a sword and a rocket launcher within minutes of one another. Looking around each place as the fire fights died down and looking around for audio logs to find out what's been going on, finding upgrade tokens to make our Master Chief that much scarier and armored lockers for cosmetics to bring into multiplayer I found myself wondering... is this it?

In the past year I've gone and platinumed both Horizon Zero Dawn and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, finally playing both past the introductions when I had picked them up for other people in my life. These worlds were huge, plenty to do, plenty to see, plenty to upgrade, and loads of story to carry you along from opening to closing credits. Master Chief's adventure so far within Halo: Infinite looks grand but feels like a basic attempt to create the current fad of an open world and I don't know if that should have been the direction.

While it's great to be able to fast travel, call in new vehicles and load up on custom weapons from each FOB, it's really when you get to a story mission where things are in a linear fashion that Halo: Infinite really started to shine. This isn’t just because it felt like “Halo” with either tight or open environments, plenty of enemies old and new including flying space octopus monkeys, it’s that it felt like a properly calibrated experience that is the reason I showed up for. As a bonus, the suit upgrades are great but I really couldn’t stop thinking of Doom 2016 as I picked them up.

The other big thing and that has been a point of contention is the coop, local or otherwise. While Halo 4 still supported a local co-op, Halo 5 demanded separate consoles having stripped away the local aspect that made this series a great couch partnering experience. Halo: Infinite, while now having launched both the multiplayer and the campaign, it still does not have any co-op at all attached to this campaign. Wanted to get together with a few friends or your partner for a romp against powerful alien foes? Unfortunately that feature isn’t here yet and it makes me wonder if it will or not come around in the future.

Finally, an issue that I doubt that I’m alone on, is the fact that I’m playing this latest adventure through the Xbox Game Pass. Where this starts to give some issues is that the main “install” was a tad misleading as while it was ready to go, I had to then open it up on day 1 and install the actual title. Fine, it was only twenty or so gigs which on my connection gave me time to whip up something quick in the kitchen before getting started. Where I’ve been having some issues however is that when I put my console into rest mode and re-open it all good to go, if the link to the servers are too slow I get kicked right out of the game because I’m not “authorized” to use this content. It’ll eventually clue in that yes, yes I do have access to this content but then I also had to restart whatever I may have been in the middle of.

Xbox Game Pass issues aside that I’ve just gone around by simply not “stopping in the middle of something”, I obviously still have plenty to see and do before making a final opinion on the matter as I’m still only about 5-6 hours in. While it looks gorgeous, it feels empty as even with multiple side missions to be tackled, there’s no extra story attached, there’s no side plotlines, there’s only a few unlockable items to make things a bit more fun and in your favor before getting to the good stuff of the main storyline missions.



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