|Publisher||Xbox Game Studios|
|Genre||First-Person Shooter, Free-to-Play, Adventure|
|Platforms||Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)|
|Release Date||December 8, 2021|
Halo has endured a measure of great popularity in the gaming sphere. This year the franchise celebrated its 20th anniversary, and with the release of Halo Infinite earlier in December, it shows the remarkable staying power these titles have had up to the present day. Master Chief, Cortana, and other characters remain beloved in the hearts of many gamers that have played their adventures from the very beginning, and have stayed iconic. With many players eyeing this entry with great anticipation, does Halo Infinite live up to the expectations that gamers have come to expect?
Spiritual content: As with other entries in the series, Halo Infinite continues to give different factions names that stem from religious terms, such as the Covenant and the eponymous Halo ring itself, although these are mere references rather than anything substantial to the story itself. The main antagonists of the game, the Banished, are a group of mercenaries that defected from the Covenant’s theocratic alliance and reject the religious beliefs of the Covenant. Their main goal in the game is to gain resources to increase their power to wage war against humanity and the galaxy as a whole, deeming themselves as the rightful masters of the universe.
Violence: As the franchise is a renowned first-person shooter, the Halo games are no stranger to violence. Halo Infinite contains the standard science fiction violence that is not gory or over the top, with the goal being to shoot down as many enemies as possible before they annihilate you first.
Language: Standard crude language that is common in military first-person shooters, such as h***, d***, g******.
Positive Content: Master Chief is an admirable soldier and leader, always making sure that the focus is on the mission, which is the protection of humanity and the galaxy at large. Although stalwart and almost always sounding serious, it is clear that he cares for his fellow soldier and never puts anyone down, no matter how they themselves may feel about the mission, or themselves. He is a selfless savior of humanity, and by the events of Infinite, has become seen by many as an icon of strength and fortitude.
Halo Infinite picks up shortly after where Halo 5: Guardians left off, beginning with Master Chief finding himself coming to blows with a new antagonistic group called the Banished. After nearly being killed by the leader of the Banished, Atriox, and jettisoned into space, Master Chief is saved by a lone pilot, referred to in-game as Echo-216. Although the Echo-216 Pilot would prefer to head home and not have anything more to do with the violence, Master Chief insists on continuing to battle against the Banished in order to protect humanity and the galaxy from this advancing threat. They take their fight to Zeta Halo, one of the seven Halo rings, which has been damaged under mysterious circumstances. The course of the game leads the player to take control of Master Chief as he undoes the damage the Banished have caused on Zeta Halo, as well as uncover their true intentions as they continue to grow their resources and power.
As this is the sixth main entry in the Halo series, one thing I quickly realized was that Infinite was by no means the best one for newcomers to play. There is a lot of lore and terms that will be thrown back and forth that will confuse the uninitiated. Delving into this entry before familiarizing yourself with the earlier games may not help you appreciate the story. That being said, the single-player campaign is very short, even by Halo standards. This leads to the plot itself to not be as developed and unique compared to other earlier titles, and even the antagonists and their motivations seemed lackluster. This is a shame, because aside from the gameplay features, the characters, factions, and lore are the core elements that have helped Halo remain unique compared to many other science fiction first-person shooters in all of these years. My hope is that future follow-ups to this game will expand more on this entry’s plot revelations and the game’s conclusion.
That being said, I felt that Halo Infinite was a true return to form for the franchise; it had a strong tone that reminded me of the early games in the series. I think this entry will be especially enjoyable for longtime fans of Halo, and a large part of it was its fun, eclectic gameplay. I found that it was a lot of fun having to come up with different strategies to defeat different types of Banished enemies; it certainly kept me on my toes, and each battle felt different from the other, which is refreshing in a first-person shooter game. The gameplay mechanics of this particular first-person shooter forces the player to think quickly and not depend on any one weapon for too long, as ammunition is quick to run out. Enemies can quickly overrun you if you are not prepared, especially if they are larger and more powerful than smaller grunts. I also found myself being observant and focusing on my surroundings to wait for my shield to recharge if my health was running low, or if I wanted to take out a specific enemy from the side. It was something that never grew tiresome for me, no matter how many subsequent battles I found myself in with little respite in-between.
The Halo games have been touted for their visuals, and Halo Infinite is certainly no exception. The graphics, character models, landscapes, and combat animations look better than ever before. The same cannot be said for the variety of landscapes that this game offered, however. Although Halo Infinite features a semi-open world that the player is encouraged to explore and appears large, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lack of diversity in the world compared to previous entries, in which players explored mountains and ancient ruins. This lack of variety may cause players to lose motivation as they are encouraged to complete side quests and capture enemy bases, known as FOBs.
One element that Halo Infinite tried to make work here but did not quite hit the mark was making the story more character-driven. Halo is very much tied to Master Chief and his battles, but the story attempts to build itself up and then doesn’t end up going anywhere. Part of this may be the fault of the short duration of the campaign, and this development may be expanded upon in future installments in the franchise, but based on how the game teased us with Atriox and the other leaders of the Banished spouting philosophy to their subordinates, I was expecting a lot more than the one-dimensional brutes that we got. The antagonists didn’t grab or interest me in this game, which I’m sure is different to how other players have felt about past antagonistic factions, such as the Flood and the Covenant.
As far as multiplayer goes, I found it to be diverting and enjoyable, and a great way for players both old and new to show their prowess with Halo Infinite‘s gameplay. The multiplayer is free for all players, and there are different modes players can experiment with, such as Capture the Flag and Slayer matches. With Halo Infinite‘s large-scale map and updated gadgetry, players are sure to enjoy experimenting which mode and which weapons they enjoy using on their opponents the first. Even if you are not interested in what the main campaign has to offer, it would be worth checking out Infinite‘s variety of multiplayer modes and test your tactical skills against other players.
Halo Infinite is an entry that helped remind me how this franchise has stood out against other sci-fi first-person shooters, and why it’s remained popular for all of these years. There were quite a few issues I had while playing Infinite that I felt needed to be pointed out, and this is by no means a beginner-friendly entry. Those who are just starting out with this game instead of going back to the beginning may find themselves getting lost very quickly as names and terms go over their head. However, my hope is that these cons may be remedied in future installments, and that players take the time to play and appreciate the multiplayer modes Infinite has to offer. Infinite is a worthy adventure for Master Chief fans, and here’s hoping we get to enjoy another twenty years in the worlds of Halo.
The Bottom Line
Halo Infinite gives players the pleasure of engaging gameplay that never grows stale, but suffers from a lack of variety in environments and lackluster antagonists.