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Multiplayer is arguably the heart to any Halo game, and Halo 4 features a robust online multiplayer experience that adquately represents the franchise's signature fast-paced frenetic gameplay.

In Halo 4, multiplayer is split up between two modes: War Games, the classic multiplayer mode featuring slayer and objective playlists; and Spartan Ops, an episodic and dynamic co-operative experience that pits up to four players in objective-based missions. Both War Games and Spartan Ops compliment one another quite nicely, as gamers can freely switch back and forth between the playlists to earn XP as well as complete Weekly, Daily, and Monthly Challenges for more experience.

Halo 4's multiplayer is integrated with the UNSC Infinity, the game's highly advanced flagship. Both War Games and Spartan Ops are affixed under the Infinity namesake, however War Games is loosely represented whereas Spartan Ops has a higher integration, featuring many mini-campaign co-op missions that span weekly episodes and involve the Infinity's crew as a central part of the gameplay.

The FPS action as back full force in Halo 4 as it blends many familiar aspects as well as introducing many new features, maps, and weapons to the mix. With the huge array of Commendations and the massive arsenal of weapon loadouts and customizable Spartan IV armors Halo 4's multiplayer has exponential replay value. The XP progression system rates a player's performance in any given game, analyzing their Commendations and Medals to calculate earned experience. Players also get Spartan Points (SP) to unlock new armor abilities and secondary

War Games

Halo 4's War Games is the quintessential multiplayer experience, offering a mix of the classic fast-paced elements found in every Halo game with brand new features and a dynamic XP ranking system. War Games spans a variety of maps, each with their own distinct terrain, themes, and style, each of which having their own signature elements while still having the breathtaking vistas and incredible visuals that are a standard to Halo's multiplayer.

Players can unlock a multitude of new weapons, Armor Abilities, and other helpful additions like Tacticaland Support packages to turn the tide of battle to their favor. As always, Halo 4 features armor customization, allowing gamers to represent their own brand of style and flair throughout matchmaking.

The XP ranking system has receieved a major overhaul and is much more dynamic than any other Halo game. Players receive XP that is accumulated from their perfomance in battle, taking many factors into consideration including kill/death ratios, game victories, Medals earned in-game, and bonus XP earned from Commendations and Challenges. When players fill their XP bar they earn a new Spartan Rank (SR), unlocking new Loadouts, Armor Abilities, and Tactical and Support Packages to apply to their Spartan IV warrior.

Players also receive Spartan Points (SP) that are like currency (replacing the cR or credits in Halo Reach) used to buy new Armor Abilities (such as Camo, Hologram, or the new Hardlight Shield), Primary and Secondary weapons for Loadouts and Tactical and Support Upgrades (helpful passive abilities that affect players in various helpful ways, such as Shielding which raises the recharge rate for shields, or Dexterity Support Upgrade that allows players to reload and switch weapons faster).

Each Loadout comprises of six parameters: Primary Weapon (DMRs, Battle Rifles, etc), Secondary Weapon (your auxillary back-up weapon, Magnums, Plasma Pistols, etc), a Grenade slot (Frag, Plasma and Pulse Grendades), one Armor Ability (helpful abilities activated in-battle ranging from Holograms, Active Camo, Hardlight Shields and more), a Tactical Package (invaluable passive abilities ranging from faster shielding recharge rates to faster Armor Ability recharges, etc.) and a single Support Upgrade (a second passive ability that can save you in battle, ranging from faster reload/weapon switching speeds to more starting ammo, etc.).

Each of these Loadout parameters are customizable and players can mix-and-match their abilities to create the perfect Loadout for any given gametype, affording a huge amount of flexibility and customization that just wasn't there before. Everything from Armor Abilities to Tactical Packages and Support Upgrades not only require SP to unlock, but also have a Spartan Rank (SR) requirement, rewarding players as they move up through the various ranks.

Along with the Loadouts, players can customize their armor and create their very own personal Spartan IV warrior. The different armor permutations don't add any bonuses and abilities throughout multiplayer, and are simply for aesthetic purposes. There are a multitude of combinations and  armor sets to unlock in Halo 4, allowing gamers to change their appearance quite often and unlock different emblems to paint their Spartan IV as they see fit. This level of customization is a fantastic addition and allows players to show off their own personal style as well as afford bragging rights for certain sets–as every piece of armor is unlocked as players level up in Spartan Rank.

As players unlock new weapons and Armor Abilities as they rank up, gamers may see a distinct advantage for veteran gamers versus those who just start out. In actuality, Halo is one of those games where anything can happen, and often the abilities don't present an unfair advantage. While they do afford additional help, they aren't essential, and the ranking system isn't unforgiving or difficult–players can earn a decent amount of XP for each game, even if they don't win.

Along with earning Medals, winning games, and performing well in battle, players can also earn XP for Commendations and the many Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Challenges. Commendations are accumulative bonuses that track the completion of certain objectives, usually a certain amount of kills with a certain weapon or against a certain enemy. When breaking one level of any given Commendation, players earn a bonus amount of XP that is tallied to their end score.

Challenges also afford a bonus chance to earn XP, and are rewarding to gamers who complete various in-game challenges.

Vehicles are a huge part of multiplayer, especially the classic Capture the Flag gametypes or Team Slayer on the bigger levels. Where there's a vehicle, however, there's always a weapon that can destroy it or another vehicle to counter it, providing a sense of fairness throughout multiplayer. Halo 4 truly delivers the signature chaotic multiplayer action that is a staple for any Halo game, raising the bar with new gametypes, modes, maps, and Loadouts to bring a massively enjoyable competitive experience.

The Maps themselves range from high-tech Forerunner constructs to huge open-world areas, and many of them bring back classic battlegrounds such as Valhalla from Halo 3. Every map has its own distinctive weapon placement for each gametype, and offer incredible breathtaking vistas enhanced in Halo 4's amazing graphics, providing impressive visuals.

Overall, Halo 4's War Games is the ultimate FPS matchmaking experience, offering chaotic and fluid competitive action that stands high above most games on the market today. Players battle each other in a futuristic battleground with realistic physics where anything can happen, featuring that distinct brand of havoc that is a signature element for the multiplayer in every Halo game.

War Games is the definitive online FPS competition that pits gamers against players across the world in a bid for supremacy, spanning a multitude of gametypes–some, like Regicide, are brand new, but still featuring the age-old classics like CTF, Infection, and Grifball–maps, Loadouts & Armor Abilities and of course the customizable armors of each Spartan IV warrior.

Spartan Ops

Halo 4's Spartan Ops mode has replaced the Firefight gametype that was featured in Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach, offering a brand-new standalone experience for gamers to enjoy with their friends. Spartan Ops is episodic, featuring a brand new Chapter every week, with five mini-campaign missions that continue a dynamic story arc that compliments Halo 4's campaign. The missions themselves span multiple objectives, many of which include wiping out a huge area of Promeathans and Covenant warriors while activating various things and completing goals.

Instead of taking on the role of Master Chief, players use their own customized Spartan IV in Spartan Ops. The story is more of a side-story that coincides with Halo 4's campaign through the eyes of the force of Spartan IVs that are completing other missions in tandem with Master Chief.

Spartan Ops is an enjoyable experience that affords gamers with a sort of break from the frenetic pressure of War Games, allowing them to kick back and still enjoy a challenge with their friends. The gametype is wholly based on co-operative gameplay, and has a matchmaking system where a single player can be matched up with other players across the nation. The levels themselves are taken right out of Halo 4's campaign, showing the events through the perspective of Spartan IV's known as Crimson.

Commander Palmer, a Spartan IV herself, reigns over Crimson and formulates the missions objectives while working with Commander Lasky and Captain Del Rio of the UNSC Infinity. The story arc is a nice addition as well, considering Firefight had no story and was more of a survival-based arcade mode wherein games fought endless waves of Covenant. Spartan Ops has a series of goals and objectives and has continuity that continues throughout a set ploatline, and the best part of Spartan Ops is that there's always something different coming next week–which keeps things fresh and affords a brand new opportunity as time passes.

This game mode also offers a distinct challenge, especially on Legendary. While they are meant for team-based co-operative player, it is possible to play these levels on your own on any difficulty. Spartan Ops provides intense action and allows gamers to build a solid team, earning XP along the way. There are also many Challenges aimed at Spartan Ops for players to complete, offering more XP for each challenge.

The XP earned from each match is pretty impressive, even when you complete the missions on your own. The ranking system tallies up your performance in Spartan Ops the same way it does in War Games, giving bonus XP for Medals and various Commendations completed throughout the game.

Each chapter also brings with it an impressive cinematic sequence. Chapter 1: Departure's sequence is quite lengthy and can be seen from within the game or on Halo Waypoint. Departure actually takes a look at just how they get the MJOLNIR armor on the Spartan IV's, and looks at the inter-personal relationships of the Spartans of Crimson Team.

Overall, Spartan Ops is a great mode that compliments War Games quite well, affording a variety of missions that each have their own story and objectives. The episodic nature of the series brings something new with every week, keeping gameplay fresh and continuing the story arc presented in the original chapters. In Spartan Ops players can not only train their skills and hone their reflexes, but they can strengthen their teamwork skills to build the ultimate team of Spartan IV's to take on enemies in War Games.

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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