As Halo fans know, the number seven plays an important part of the mythology, thanks to Bungie’s insane obsession with it. Well, it seems that little prime number is also important to 343 Industries, because the seventh episode of Halo 4 Spartan Ops is by far the best yet.
Platforms: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: January 28, 2013
ESRB Rating: Mature
It turns out the excellent Episode 6 was merely an appetizer for the next course in the story-driven co-operative multiplayer mode. The cinematic cutscene that accompanies the episode is amazing, with sabotage, backroom deals, and the always-exciting surprise enemy invasion. Catherine Halsey started out as a cocky, annoying character in Halo: Reach, and didn’t really change much in the first half of Spartan Ops, but she is now developing into a devious, obsessive antagonist whose loyalties are much in question. In other words, she is much more interesting, which makes the story that much more engaging.
You start on the surface of Requiem and immediately receive a distress call: the Infinity has been boarded by enemy forces and desperately needs your help. But first, you have to get off the planet, which means fighting your way through Covenant and Promethean forces. As with the previous episode, enemies are numerous and the waves spawn quickly. There are a couple of Ghosts to play with – a welcome addition for fans aching to mow down Prometheans with a vehicle – along with a single Mantis mech. It’s important to make sure whoever grabs the Mantis knows what they’re doing, because it won’t respawn if destroyed, and it is vital for successfully defending your transport ship.
The action really heats up once you reach the Infinity. Enemy numbers are way up, and the waves spawn fast and furious. It’s frantic, chaotic, and damn fun. This is what Halo is supposed to be, and the true potential of Spartan Ops has been finally realized. Most importantly, you are also fighting for a purpose: not only do you have to fend off the invaders, but you also have to stop them from sabotaging and destroying the ship. This is in stark contrast to the previous episodes, where you just ran around killing bad guys because … well, just because. At least now, you feel a bit of desperation and urgency to get these monkey-lovin’ hingeheads off your monkey-lovin’ ship, which pulls you deeper into the experience.
Episode 7 features five new maps – well, actually, one new map on Requiem, and one giant map on Infinity that is divided into four sections: the landing bay, engine room, server room and weapons control. You will revisit each room over the course of the episode, but it doesn’t feel like a cost-cutting regurgitation; rather, it fits within the context of the story and works well.
Episode 6 was good, and Episode 7 is awesome. If the trend continues, I can’t wait to see what Episode 8 has in store for us.
Review Disclosure: Halo 4: Spartan Ops Episode 7 is available as a free download for owners of Halo 4. A retail copy of Halo 4 was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.