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A Look Back at 2012: Halo 4 vs. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Whenever you look at which game is number #1 on Microsoft's Xbox Live charts, its either a Halo game or a Call of Duty game. This year, the rivalry is renewed once again on Xbox Live with releases of Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Entertainment Fuse is here to determine which of these two highly anticipated shooters is better if you had to choose one to buy this holiday season.

Christopher Puenner

Many people would say that attempting to compare FPS franchises is like comparing apples to oranges, both are fruit but have characteristics that identify them from the other. However, when it comes to Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 they have more in common than either title would care to admit. So while comparing the two is possible it is more akin to comparing red apples to green apples. The only extreme difference between these two titles is how they achieved their similarity. Black Ops 2 is almost completely identical to the first iteration while Halo 4 has gone through some serious changes. Adapting to become more like the other leading AAA shooters, Halo has implemented a new loadout style multiplayer feature and sprint is now part of every Spartan's initial kit. The interesting thing, however, is that regardless of how close Halo has now come to a more generic shooter, a Halo fan will tell you that it still “feels” like a Halo game. This is an important note to take when comparing the two games.

 While both titles bring expectedly exciting and fun multiplayer experiences, which game will ultimately be more popular than the other? The answer is that both games are simply going to be as popular as they have been in the past. Halo changed a few things and Black Ops 2 added a few new guns, but ultimately neither game presented any new innovation that could convince one fan of the other to change their gaming preferences. Both games are fun, successful, and appeal more than the other to certain demographics.

The one thing both of these games DO have that sets them above others are the story elements and the high quality of storytelling within. Brilliant dialogue and great character building really bring both of these games up from mediocre rehashing of popular FPS games and makes them into unique experiences. Both games showcase this, however, so it cannot be a point of superiority when comparing the two. Overall, both games are fantastic and your personal choice between one or the other lies completely in your specific tastes.

Let’s not confuse objectivity with being passive. Personally I have a preference and I’m sure you do as well but there is a larger issue at hand here than just Call of Duty vs. Halo. The FPS genre has become stagnant and almost every new shooter is beginning to feel just like the last one. Where has the innovation gone? Have we hit our peak in shooter development? Hopefully the up and coming next-gen systems will allow for some fresh and new approaches to the genre and breathe new life into our favorite franchises.

Objectivity aside there are enough differences to recommend one over the other from my standpoint. I love Halo, simply put, but it was more than fanboyism that got me excited about Halo 4 in the first place. Globally, Halo fans were nervous when they heard the announcement that 343 Industries was picking up the franchise and developing a new trilogy. There was plenty of mud slinging that took place in the months following and many fans of the franchise just didn’t trust this new development team with their beloved Halo. Since Halo 4's release, everyone seems to have accepted the changes, additions, and removals made across the board.

Halo 4 took a chance. 343 radically changed the game in order to set it apart from the others and still produced a great game. Black Ops 2 changed very little and the things that were altered were minimal at best. While it’s true that both games are alike, Halo 4 took it upon itself to make it stand out among the other Halo games while Black Ops 2 was almost completely the same game as the first one. As a result, my recommendation is Halo 4. Bravo to 343 for putting themselves out there, I expect to see some serious innovation from them for Halo 5.

Kyle Enz

Arguably, it's hard to compare the Halo and Call of Duty franchises. While both games offer a unique first person shooter experience, both games, for the most part, have been completely different entities. But it has been more shocking, with Halo 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 being released within a week of each other, to see how similar these games have become.

Both games offer excellent and unique campaigns, but I have to weigh in that Halo 4's campaign is probably my favorite story experience of 2012. Sure it has its rocky moments, especially when minor details are lost in the fray, but the ending more then makes up for anything lacking in that campaign. Mechanically, Halo for me has always also been superior. Halo 4 provided a much more challenging and engaging experience then Black Ops 2. Returning to the familiar enemies of The Covenant was nice, but I also enjoyed the new Promethean enemies as well. But perhaps the best part of Halo 4's campaign is that at the end of the day, it felt like Halo, and that's what matters to me. I'd be lying if I didn't enjoy Black Ops 2's campaign though, as I also did. Black Ops 2's journey into the future is fascinating, and the personal choices you make during the campaign were also a nice change of pace. Putting you in the shoes of the antagonist changed everything about the series for me, offering up an even more unique experience then any past Call of Duty. Switching back from the 80's to the future was a bit jarring at times, but overall it worked. But at the end of the day, Halo 4 stuck with me more story-wise.

For cooperative experiences, Black Ops 2 gets my vote this year, over Halo 4. When I initially wrote my review of Black Ops 2, I didn't speak much on the zombie mode because I literally played about an hour of it, and wrote it off as simply more zombies. However, going back now, playing with several friends, and actually learning the concepts of how the mode works, I've had a fantastic time with zombies mode this year. The idea of traveling on the bus to several locations changes things up quite a bit, making things more challenging then ever. Constructable weaponry and items, multiple locations, new perks, and even new enemy types make this zombie mode the most complete that it has ever been. I finally don't feel like such a novice when it comes to this mode, as I did in the previous incarnations. Stacking it up against Halo 4's massively disappointing Spartan Ops, there's no comparison. I've wanted to like Spartan Ops, but it's hard for me to get behind a mode that releases new “episodes” every week that recycle the same levels and environments, weaving together a story that's only half interesting to the one found the main campaign. It's also a nightmare to play on Legendary with even four people. While the campaign was almost a cake walk this way, Spartan Ops excels to extreme difficulty thanks to the green blast from the fuel rod cannon, in which every enemy has. At the end of the day, Call of Duty wins the cooperative award this year, over Halo 4.

However, multiplayer is probably the biggest toss up for me at this moment. I have a love/hate relationship with both game's stabs at multiplayer this year. There are things that have improved with Black Ops 2, most notably sniping. However, the game is also not camp friendly anymore. Nerfing the Ghost perk is a joke to me. You have to be fully sprinting for the perk to work now, which makes no sense whatsoever. Who is going to be a ghost when they are sprinting? Add to that the fact that Treyarch has taken an even further stance against camping by making it almost virtually impossible to camp anywhere in Black Ops 2. Every window or sniper nest has literally three ways to get up to it, making it impossible unless you have at least another person or even more helpfully, two other people, to cover you. It seems Treyarch wants to push players to run and gun, and for me, that's never how I played Call of Duty. Halo 4 has even more slew of problems this time around, with the broken concepts of ordinances, maps that have way too many vehicles, and kill cams that simply don't work. The concept of an ordinance works on paper, but in reality it is broken. Rewarding mediocrity with a zero skill weapon is a concept that might help players who aren't as good at this game, but when everyone on an opposite time gets a good weapon, it becomes utter dominance against the opposing team. I hate that on Ragnarok (Valhalla), the opposite team can each get the spartan laser at the same time, crushing your chances of success. This is only the tip of the ice berg with my issues. Removing the ability to pick up grenades or other weapons, unless you have the appropriate perk, is also a disservice. But it isn't all bad. The maps this time around are instantly more enjoyable then Halo Reach's boiled down “forge world” community maps. Other modes work well, especially my all time favorite Team SWAT, which replaces a lot of the broken concepts for a more straight-forward Halo experience. If 343 will listen to the complaints on their forums, they will be able to fix some of these problems. I'd be really happy if they just implemented a classic play-style playlist. But between the two games, Halo 4 has a better chance of getting the changes that I (and most other players, according to the Halo Waypoint Forums) are seeking.

has always been my go to game for multiplayer, cooperative, and campaign, and while this one makes it out the gate, it does it barely by the skin of its teeth this time around. But at the end of the day if I were asked to choose what game is a better, more complete purchase, I'd have to say Halo 4. Neither game is a bad game, but if I had to recommend one over the other, Halo 4 just offers a little more.


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