Halo Infinite Review: Nostalgia refined and made better

Halo Infinite Review: Nostalgia refined and made better

The highly-anticipated Halo Infinite is finally released last month. It is supposed to be the marque title when Xbox Series X was launched in Nov 2020. Instead, the game was delayed till Dec 2021.

SPECS
PRICE: S$85 (PC, version reviewed; Xbox One; Xbox Series X|S), available in Lazada and Shopee
GENRE: First-person shooter

For hardcore Halo fans like myself, who have played every iteration of this 20-year-old first-person shooter (FPS) franchise, Halo Infinite feels like an infinite wait from 2015’s Halo 5: Guardians. But is it worth the six year wait?

Hello again, Master Chief. (Photo: 343 Industries)

Let’s start with the campaign, which I have finished (that’s why this review took a while). The storyline in Infinite’s campaign is nothing short of compelling and fantastic. It not only captures the essence of the Halo we love since the original Combat Evolved, but takes it even further.

This is further accentuated by the amazing voice-acting across the entire game from Master Chief (Steve Downes) to a measly grunt as well as higher level of player freedom. The campaign has taken a new approach of an open world sandbox compared to all previous titles where it was mission-to-mission.

FOR
+ Compelling campaign story
+ Gorgeous graphics
+ Fantastic balance of movement, gunplay and gameplay

AGAINST
– Co-op campaign and Forge mode still not available
– Micro-transactions in multiplayer is restrictive

Like any other open world game, Halo Infinite’s game world is for you to explore and do whatever you want. You can follow the main story missions or sidetrack to the multiple side missions, from assassinations missions to retaking bases, the campaign has to offer. But the side missions do get quite repetitive even though it is still fun and engaging.

Oh, hi again, Grunts… Die you die! (Photo: 343 Industries)

And yes, the campaign comes with a lot of easter eggs and collectibles. In addition, this is probably Halo’s best implementation of boss fights. It is challenging, engaging, sweaty; but yet, not too absurdly difficult that makes you want to smash your controller or keyboard.

However, there is a tinge of ‘unfinished feeling’, as the story itself feels there is a lot more to it. The same can be said about the game, given we do not have a co-op campaign yet. It feels like an unforgiving slap to fans such as myself and maybe a bad point for people who want to jump into Halo.

The graphics of Halo Infinite are simply gorgeous. (Photo: 343 Industries)

The storyline is rather hard to grasp if you are not familiar with the lore of Halo or are new to the franchise. Nonetheless, Halo Infinite has a promising future with co-op campaign DLC to be released mid-2022 and the Forge level editor a few months after.

The Halo franchise has always been known for its superb graphics. And the Infinite is no different. Having to play this game solely on PC, the graphics look simply amazing. From the ancient Forerunner ruins to the breathtaking vast open landscape of Zeta Halo, every little detail is polished and refined.

Despite playing the game on the highest graphic setting for long hours, I have yet to experience any crashes and any graphical glitches. I can now fully understand the developer’s push back on their original release date of the game. It was well worth the wait.

Hmm, where’s everyone? (Photo: 343 Industries)

The developer 343 Industries has outdone themselves to ensure that the golden triangle between gunplay, movement and gameplay synergises well with each other.

For instance, equipment, from grenades to power ups, in Halo has always been a core gameplay mechanic. And with Infinite’s latest addition, the grappling hook, it opens countless possibilities for players to experiment with new movements in both offensive and defensive capacities. Another amazing equipment is the Repulsor. It gives players the ability to push back enemy grenades and even rockets!

These additions push the limit of player freedom and gameplay mechanics. It expands the fun possibilities on the playing field but yet not make it feel like unnecessary additions.

Sorry sir, but this is mine. (Photo: 343 Industries)

In terms of multiplayer, the overall experience with the multiplayer has been positive. The smooth and optimised matchmaking allow me to jump into matches quickly and seamlessly only to catch myself skipping meals and other responsibilities. Well, time passes fast when you are having fun.

Multiplayer gameplay in Halo Infinite is fun. (Photo: 343 Industries)

On the downside, the micro-transactions in the game have caused rifts with fans and new players alike. Customisations, like armour or weapon colours, that came free previously are now locked behind a paywall. Not to mention, the high prices of some items are not really justified.

I understand the multiplayer option is free to play and the developer needs to make money. But this is like taking away 90% of the player’s creative freedom in expressing themselves via their avatars with a paywall. As such, there is a ‘restrictive’ feel to the entire game.

VERDICT
Halo Infinite has set a solid foundation to welcome new and old fans. And it has definitely risen from the fallen debris of Halo 4 and 5 by keeping it simple and back to its core basics. It is fun to play and easy to jump into with friends or play alone. In short, it is a return to form of the Halo franchise. The feeling of ‘unfinished’ still lingers but I believe it will be alleviated soon.

RATING
8.5/10