Star Rating:

Halo Infinite

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series XS

Release Date: Wednesday 8th December 2021

Play Modes: Single Player, Online Multiplayer

Master Chief is a man with a point to prove.

After 2015's 'Halo 5: Guardians' underwhelmed fans and critics alike, 343 Industries had to go back to the drawing board.

6 years is a long time in any industry, let alone one as dynamic and fluid as gaming.

Since then, open-world games have become de rigueur and a game cannot merely launch and remain in the same state forever.

How does 'Halo' cope in a post 'Breath Of The Wild' and 'Fortnite' world?

By zeroing in on what 'Halo' does best, and adding a few extra bells and whistles.

The single-player campaign is as robust as ever, telling a story that focuses on the main attraction, Master Chief himself.

The character beats are some of the best seen in a 'Halo' game, and the story does a decent job of establishing the motivations of The Banished, the main antagonists of the game.

In its best moments, the story for 'Halo Infinite' is a deeply personal journey for Master Chief and players are with him every step of the way, and the exceptionally strong voice acting help paper over some of the cracks.

The storyline is there to serve a purpose, and it's a way to introduce the players to the mechanics they'll be using over and over again in the multi-player.

However, players don't come to 'Halo' for the story - they show up for the gameplay.

Here, the game truly shines.

The open-world approach suits a 'Halo' game well.

Before now, the games were strictly linear, and the idea of 'Halo' going open-world seemed like a gamble, but it pays off in the same way 'Metal Gear Solid 5' going open-world did.

'Halo 3: ODST' was the series' first flirtation with the open-world design, and those building blocks laid over 10 years ago pay off here.

After the opening hour or so, players are set free on Zeta Halo, a lush and green planet with plenty of stone monoliths.

While the map isn't as mind-bogglingly huge as a 'Just Cause' game or as detailed as 'Red Dead Redemption 2', the map is compact yet has enough variety to keep players engaged.

Players must take out enemy bases, and once captured, the bases serve as fast-travel points for players or can pick up some new weapons and vehicles.

Capturing these enemy bases is the game at its best, as every base is a mini-boss level to be completed, and the game encourages the player to get creative.

The big mark against the game at present is not being able to replay levels, which is a shame considering how much the game encourages experimentation and tackling encounters in different ways, and the lack of replayable missions is odd considering previous entries in the franchise allowed players to do so.

Hail To The Chief: 'Halo Infinite' explores the iconic character more in-depth than before

The biggest addition to the franchise is a grappling hook, and in a word, it's a breath of fresh air.

Zipping around the battlefield never loses its lustre thanks to the addition of the grappling hook.

The grappling hook can be used to traverse the environments more easily, gain a tactical advantage over enemies by hooking to a spot above them, grapple yourself into an enemy, or find a place to cover.

Thanks to the grappling hook, the game always feels dynamic and fresh.

Going open-world was a bit of a gamble for a 'Halo' game, but the game pulls it off in some style, and now we'll be disappointed if further games in the franchise don't retain the open-world design of 'Infinite'.

Having a few different options to approach any given battle is a blessing for a 'Halo' game, as previous games in the franchise took place in linear corridors where you are a one-man army.

With the open-world approach, players can pick off enemies at a distance, run them over, charge in head-first, or grapple hook enemies to death like an aggressive spider.

Reinventing the wheel after 20 years at the top is a tall order, but 'Halo Infinite' does a great job of keeping what makes the original so special, while adding some new twists.

The bread and butter of any 'Halo' experience is the multiplayer and once again, 'Halo' reminds us why it became such a sensation all these years ago.

The pacing is more frantic and frenetic thanks to players being able to avail of the grappling hook.

As mentioned, 'Halo' now exists in a world of 'Fortnite', so it is not merely enough for a multiplayer shooter to be stagnant or players chasing the same goal over and over again.

Dynamism is the name of the game with 'Halo Infinite' and no multiplayer match plays the same way twice.

The multiplayer remains as dynamic as ever

Pick-ups are plentiful, and the addition of verticality thanks to the likes of the grappling hook keeps players on their toes.

The true opinion on the multiplayer portion of 'Halo Infinite' won't become apparent until a few weeks from now, and as such, it's difficult to ascertain if the experience we had during the review period will be the same 6 weeks from now.

However in the meat and potatoes moment-to-moment gameplay, 'Halo Infinite' plays as dynamic and exciting as other games in the series.

It will be interesting to see how the multiplayer portion evolves over time, but from what we've played, it looks set to deliver more years of high-paced, frantic action as the predecessors.

Features from previous 'Halo' games are missing at launch such as the iconic 'Forge' mode are missing, as well as the co-op campaign, but the developers have implied they will be added in due course.