I’ve always been a big fan of Halo. Halo CE was the first FPS I ever played at the ripe age of 9, and I instantly fell in love with the intense firefights and mysterious worlds of this universe that Bungie created. So of course the hand-off of the franchise to newly created 343 Industries was to me a moment of relief and trepidation. 343i was created by Microsoft after Bungie split to become an independent developer, in order to oversee the future of the Halo franchise; several Bungie employees, including Frank O’Connor (now Franchise Director), were part of that transition. Yet many fans, including myself, were worried that 343i, which had never developed it’s own game before, would be able to successfully continue the Halo franchise. Nearly a month after the release of Halo 4, I can say the series as a whole is in good hands.
I’m not actually here today to talk about the game itself (which is in my opinion the best Halo game in a long time), but rather the Halo 4 Collector’s Edition game guide. Published by Prima Games and coming in a whopping 464 full-color pages (which is a crazy amount of content for a strategy guide about a FPS), this guide has everything but the kitchen sink (that’s probably included in the Legendary edition). That’s nearly 500 pages of Halo goodness, and thankfully, none of it is filler material to increase the length of the book, making the $39.99 MSRP feel worth it.
The book begins with a nice recap of the series up until the ending of Halo 3, along with character profiles of some new and familiar faces. It’s a great way to reintroduce long time players to the main story, and in fact should be a mandatory feature in any video game guide that covers a sequel. The Assassin’s Creed III guide did a great job summing up the events of the previous games while providing important background information on certain characters and concepts. It ends up being a nice treat for fans who get seriously invested in the story.
The campaign section has a ton of detail that’s surprising for a FPS game. Detailed maps of each area show you weapons locations as well as enemy locations. Far from being straightforward, the guide also details alternate approaches to certain areas of the game and recommends different loadouts to suit each section’s needs.
Not only that, the guide also includes little side notes that provide tips for conquering the levels on Legendary difficulty, offering pro-tips from professional MLG players. In addition too all these helpful tips, the guide makes note of all the hidden terminals throughout the campaign, as well as hidden easter eggs that you would normally miss in a play through. Thankfully, the guide keeps spoilers to a minimum, focusing instead on strategies to best complete each level.
The “Infinity” section refers to the newly revamped multiplayer, which includes the War Games, Spartan Ops, and Forge modes, and will now tie directly into the Halo canon. Prima brought in four professional MLG players to produce tips and strategies for the War Games and Spartan Ops modes. The wealth of information here is intensive, covering everything from preferred weapons loadouts to the best way to hold the controller during a multiplayer match. Each weapon is broken down, every commendation is detailed, and every armor permutation is revealed; it is simply staggering how detailed this section is, and is quite possibly the best part of this guide. Nowhere else can you find such a detailed overview of the game’s multiplayer components. As a nice bonus, the guide covers the first episode of Spartan Ops, and promises free walkthroughs on the Prima website in the future when further episodes are released. Lastly for this section, there is an appendix that lists every single weapon, stat, terminal, achievement, skull, and more in one convenient chart.
Exclusive to this collector’s edition is a 48 page section near the back featuring interviews and photos of the 343i staff and their thoughts on the development of Halo 4. As a fan, this section is a great insight into the people who were passionate in the development of Halo 4. The interviews are fascinating reads about what went on behind the scenes at 343i.
Also included with the collector’s edition are 10 War Games map cards that can be written on with dry-erase markers and feature MLG tips for each map. I’m no MLG player, but the dry-erase cards are a nice addition nonetheless and can prove helpful in learning each map. In addition, the guide includes a download code for an exclusive Cryptum shirt for your Xbox Live avatar. All of this is bound in a beautiful hardcover design, featuring stunning art of Master Chief facing the Cryptum. The overall presentation of this guide is brilliant and elevates this guide above most other guides in terms of style and quality.
Prima has done a stellar job in crafting this guide. The information within is incredibly helpful and full of so much useful data and statistics, making it apparent that the authors truly knew the ins and outs of the game as they wrote this book. There is enough useful tips here to help anyone from a newbie gamer who just wants to jump in to a veteran FPS shooter who’s ready to tackle the hardest challenges. The book features great art throughout, breathing life into the book and making sure there isn’t a single dull page. What I think is the book’s greatest achievement is compiling such a complete strategy guide that none of the 450+ pages of material feels like filler material. I cannot recommend this guide enough, and is an excellent companion piece to an equally great game. The Halo universe is in good hands.