Halo 4 screens, video and hands-on

Halo is back and we are among the lucky few to have seen it. Admittedly, we may have spied less than a couple of minutes of footage from the game's multiplayer, but still, we can now say we have seen the new Halo game in action. 

This is an exciting thing. Why exactly? First up, Halo is without doubt one of the best franchises currently in existence on the Xbox 360. Second, Halo 4 continues the story of Master Chief, a gaming favourite - unlike Halo Reach which was a prequel.

Traditionally, Halo has been developed by Bungie, a now legendary studio that has been responsible for many of the Xbox’s gaming classics. But things have moved on for Halo 4, which is being constructed by 343 Industries instead. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as a new take on an IP like Halo could result in the game feeling entirely fresh. Yet 343 was desperate to tell us how different and new Halo 4 was going to play, but went into no specifics whatsoever on the game. 

The preview we were shown at Microsoft’s Spring Showcase was little more than something to whet our appetites. No details on single player, weapons, characters or even the story. Instead, we were treated to a few moments of multiplayer on two different maps, with every character holding a battle rifle.

So what did we see? Well, first, the newly designed Spartan IV characters in the multiplayer look absolutely awesome - 343 Industries has worked some kind of black magic with the Xbox to pull an incredible amount of detail with each character model. This isn’t a graphical refresh like Reach, but a total overhaul. The game looks stunning in fact, approaching Battlefield 3 levels of graphical fidelity. 

One level we were shown, in particular, set in an environment less reminiscent of the usual greys and purples of Halo, blew us away with its looks. Lens flare, high contrast lighting, HDR, it was all there and finally had us as excited about the way a Halo game looks as the original did.

From the trailer we were shown, it is nigh on impossible to say anything on gameplay. The battle rifle is there and has been re-skinned, it also sounds different but still shoots in that familiar burst mode with a scope on top. And there is now a genuine story-explained reason for blue Spartan IVs to be fighting against red ones, 343 told us, so this is something we definitely look forward to finding out. Vehicles are also present, although we weren’t shown any. 

Multiplayer is, of course, a crucial part of the entire Halo setup and as 343 Industries promises, will be handled with serious attention to detail. It's difficult to mess with a formula that has done so well for so long, but drastic changes have apparently been made which will alter the way Halo’s multiplayer is played. There are also “a tonne of weapons”, which is nice to know, despite our having no idea what any of them are except for the battle rifle. 

Short but sweet, sadly. No doubt, Microsoft will have more of the title to show us at E3 later on in the year (June). For now, why not drool slightly over the two screenshots and the video released so far. The screens both show Master Chief’s new armour in all its glory and are taken from in-game footage without any editing whatsoever. Sweet eh?

What do you think of Halo 4 so far? Let us know in the comments below...