Halo 4 Microsoft Studios

'Halo 4,' dropping November 6, had a small mountain to climb to reach the heights of some of the previous games in the series. There was also the matter of 343 Industries replacing previous developer Bungie for the beginning of a brand new 'Reclaimer Trilogy.'

Gamers were skeptical and we ourselves wondered if Master Chief could make a triumphant return to form with a new developer and stiff competition from the likes of 'Call of Duty' and other first-person shooters.

The answer is yes. RedBullUSA.com has played the hell out of 'Halo 4' and we've compiled eight reasons why it's the best yet.

1. Visually Stunning

The Xbox 360's aging hardware looks like it's being pushed to its very limits by the graphics in 'Halo 4,' which are flat out amazing. From the vibrant jungles of an alien world to the cold blue innards of a Reclaimer spaceship to the small details of Master Chief's power armor, 'Halo 4' will take your breath away, visually, and will make you wonder if you’re playing on a next-generation gaming console.

2. Emotional Story

Master Chief has always been the strong silent type, but he lets down his guard slightly in 'Halo 4.' His best friend Cortana is quickly going “rampant,” which happens when A.I.s get near the end of their natural seven-year lifespan, and our hero goes to incredible lengths to save her. It's hard to call the relationship between an armored super-soldier and a blue-colored hologram a “romance,” necessarily, but it's the closest thing to it and it's quite effective.

3. The Prometheans

Sure, the Covenant is still around to serve as Master Chief's space-faring piñata army of choice, but 'Halo 4' also brings the Prometheans to the party. These sleek, biomechanical bad guys are broken down into three sizes: Crawlers, Watchers, and Knights. Each requires a different kind of strategy to take down. The Knights, for example, utilize some kind of hologram teleporting business, which means they can jump on you at a moment's notice.

4. More Tools of the Trade

Along with new enemies comes a whole new arsenal of alien weaponry at Master Chief's disposal. There are seven kinds of Forerunner guns and grenades to choose from, including the pistol-like Boltshot, a precision distance weapon called the Lightrifle, and the sniping Binary Rifle.

Our favorite is the destructive Incineration Cannon, which fires streams of explosive particles that spread on impact, mixing a rocket launcher, flamethrower and shotgun. Ouch. In total, there are over 20 different types of weapons to strap on and shoot.

5. Cooperative Episodes

Having a 'Gears of War'-style cooperative campaign for the main tale of the solitary Master Chief in 'Halo 4' would have felt really strange. So 343 Industries wisely brought four player online cooperative in the form of Spartan Ops mode, which provides weekly episodes of gameplay and storytelling (see trailer below). It can be difficult to organize your friends and get everyone on the same page to play a long campaign together, so Spartan Ops is perfect for playing with buddies in short bursts of action.

6. Dominion Mode

You knew Team Slayer returns to multiplayer, but you're going to want to try the all-new Dominion Mode. It's basically a team-oriented mode in which each side attempts to capture a series of bases and holds them down as long as possible for points. In the process of being captured, the base automatically fortifies itself with a number of defensive upgrades like turrets and shields, making it easier to hold. It's fast, furious and fun.

7. Anti-Camping Measures

Campers who lay in wait behind advantageous corners to gank unsuspecting players have been the bane of multiplayer shooters since before the days of the first 'Halo.' But 'Halo 4' features a special ability called 'Forerunner Vision,' which allows Spartans to see through walls and see potential campers before they run right into them.

In addition, weapon respawns are no longer completely set to one spot, making it difficult for people to "weapon camp" and run around in boring patterns. The camper will never truly die, but at least "Halo 4" provides tools to keep them at bay.

8. Customizable Everything

Expanding on the multiplayer foundation of 'Halo:Reach,' there are a dizzying amount of unlockables, weapons and accessories to get in 'Halo 4.' When using loadouts, players can chose Support upgrades like extra ammo, Tactical Packages (like special drops in 'Call of Duty'), and more. There's also multiplayer “specializations” which are basically miniclasses which allows you to make your Spartan even more unique. Each of them includes different armor sets, weapon skins, emblems and a visor color. It will take weeks, if not months to unlock it all.

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