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acidtechnologic avatar 9:05 AM on 11.20.2012  (server time)
the fly in Halo 4's ointment

Like many independent twenty-somethings in America, my disposable liquid income dries up fairly quickly. Lucky enough for me, my close friend/roommate doesn't have the same issue; he works as an animator for the Adult Swim cartoon Super Jail, and does pretty ok. So whenever a new game is released, he tends to pick it up, which means I get a chance to play it. Last week he came home with a copy of Halo 4, the latest installment in the very title that sealed our friendship 11 years ago (really, we met playing halo at a LAN party). Naturally, last weekend we held a mini LAN reunion party, invited a couple of good friends over (whom i also met at that LAN party) and we played well into the early morning. I even spent a little time with the campaign.

I already get a sense that this installment of the series is going to be one of my favorites, and I'm almost sure it's not simply because it's the newest, shiniest one (although that doesn't hurt). The campaign, from what I've played, is a breath of fresh air for the series. I'm finally interested in Master Chief as a character, something i lost after playing through the disappointing Halo 2 campaign. The multiplayer is well balanced, and the ability to customize my loadouts is a very welcome addition to the series. All of my favorite playlists are still available with new tweaks, such as the ability to throw the oddball, (in oddball and in grifball) infected mode being populated by the flood, etc. There's a lot to love about Halo 4, especially if you've been a fan of the series but have been losing interest (such as myself). There is, however, this ugly thing about Halo 4 that kind of vexes me; and I suppose it's just the face of modern console shooters, yet i still dislike it.
The unlock system is obnoxious, always in my face, constantly reminding me how many kills i need with X gun to get Y experience, and how I'm halfway through this or that daily challenge. I'll level up, and a popup centers itself on my screen telling all of the armor pieces I've "unlocked". When I check my armor inventory though, my new items are only viewable, and i have to complete some commendation to actually use it. I may be the only one who doesn't particularly like this system, but i personally feel that it's the worst sort of gameplay lengthening scheme, creating an extrinsic motivation for playing the game (playing simply to beat the challenges, earn the unlocks, etc) as opposed to an intrinsic one (playing simply because I want to). Earning unlocks isn't a bad thing; I just feel that 343 has completely overdone it. The sheer amount of commendations is overwhelming, and so many armor pieces are locked until you spend a ridiculous amount of time playing - hence the gameplay lengthening scheme. I don't think it'd be the worst thing in the world if the next installment in 343's new trilogy eased up on that kind of stuff, don't you agree? I'd love to hear from everyone. Thanks for reading

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