Halo 4 is adamant about proving its competence and convincing you of its necessity. You don't often see a monolithic franchise putting up a fight for fans, but the departure of Bungie has awakened doubt - enough to incur a fierce response from Halo's new custodians at 343 Industries. And so the developer launches the best kind of protest, which is to wave an impressive, throbbing shooter in your face. Trust me, you want this.

The speed at which that uncertainty evaporates is the real surprise. You enter with a fair fear of Halo being stale; then Master Chief exits the cryogenic casket like a crisp piece of let-us-start-killing-things. Meanwhile, his companion Cortana skirts around fatigue, madness and Microsoft metaphor - the inevitable fate of software that's been in service for much too long. But she too comes out stronger, more endearing and heroic than ever before. Maybe she's just been inserted into one too many alien plinths over the years.Gallery: Halo 4 (Campaign, Spartan Ops, War Games, Forge) - 11/01/12

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Halo 4 review: Our new Chief Operating Officer originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 01 Nov 2012 03:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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