Halo 4 preview (pictures, hands-on, screens, trailer and video)

We knew it was coming, but now we get to see Halo 4 in action, thanks to Microsoft and developers 343 Industries showing off the new game at the Microsoft press E3 conference in LA.

As you have probably gathered, Halo 4 marks the return of Master Chief and the beginning of a new saga in the blockbuster franchise that started 10 years ago.  

Microsoft took to the stage to showcase Halo Infinity Multiplayer, including a new story-driven experience known as Spartan Ops.

"A first of its kind, Spartan Ops is an episodic adventure - playable in single-player or cooperatively with up to four players - that blends immersive storytelling, high-quality cinematics and action-packed gameplay to deliver an unprecedented serialised experience," claims Microsoft, hoping to extend the urge to play the game beyond the opening weekend.

Halo 4 hits store shelves on 6 November 2012, just in time to make it on your Christmas list.

UPDATE: Pocket-lint has now had the chance to play the game for real at Microsoft's dedicated Halo 4 showcase and party in LA and, while we've only had a chance to experience two different multiplayer modes and maps, we can already tell that 343 Industries has risen to the challenge of taking on such an important franchise.

The mode we played most was the one newest to this chapter, Spartan Ops. With three other gamers, we played what will be episode one of the adventure that will be available for download in timed chunks.

The cinematics were far from finished, with 2D animated storyboards where there will be 3D CGI renders, but the gameplay and graphics therein are close to finalised.

Of course, the gameplay itself is as can be expected, and will definitely please die-hard Halo-ites. It's speed is extremely impressive. Although there are a few lulls in the firefighting, they don't last for long before you're straight back into a running battle.

However, the most impressive aspect of what we've seen so far is in graphical flair. Everything, textures, colour pallette, 3D models, seem sharper and better defined than ever before. If we had any negative feelings about former Master Chief outings it was that the games were cartoony, with garish colour schemes and basic modelling. That's perhaps a little extreme, as we haven't seen the former Bungie games side-by-side with this new one, but there's definitely a greater feeling of realism - well, as much as can be for a game set on an alien planet, featuring running battles with extraterrestrials.

The team-based versus multiplayer was not quite as exciting for us as, a) it didn't feature as many enemies to kill, just another team of four, and b) we ended up dying a lot when faced with some true hardcore Halo fans. We can certainly say that it looks as tidy as the Spartan Ops mode, however.

Sadly, we didn't get to see or play any single-player action at the Halo 4 event, but thanks to the playtime we've had with the game so far, we're now awaiting any developments in that field with eager anticipation. We have faith, thanks to our experiences so far, that 343 Industries will have done a cracking job.



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