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Games of 2012: Halo 4

Halo prepares to explore its past...

Bungie may no longer be on development duties, but Halo 4 still "plays like Halo" according to Josh Holmes, the game's creative director.

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That's good news, right? The war against the Covenant has been laid to rest, and now Master Chief is facing off against what the Waypoint blurb refers to as "an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe".

We think this particular ancient evil may refer to the Prisoner, a mysterious figure from the far reaches of the Halo timeline. He's huge and mighty and he has weird eyes, apparently. More importantly, he's the last of the Precursors, the all-powerful alien race that came before the Forerunners.

The Forerunners were the noble galactic policemen who created the Halo Array, and we're expecting to learn a lot more about them in the new trilogy. We already know that the planet Master Chief is seen falling towards in Halo 4's teaser trailer is a Forerunner world, and it seems to be fully operational, too.

Perhaps they just left the lights on before they all died fighting the Flood, or perhaps there's something a bit stranger going on. Either way, we're looking forward to seeing alien architecture that's very different to the stuff found on those dormant ring installations or amid the dusty wastes of the Ark.

Galactic intrigue aside, we're also excited at the prospect of a far more personal narrative this time around, with 343 Industries (the series' new caretaker) homing in on the relationship between everybody's favourite Spartan and Cortana, his AI companion.

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That, along with the promise of plenty of new UNSC hardware to fit in alongside the classic arsenal, could be just what Xbox's greatest franchise has been missing of late. Master Chief is back, then - and he's in good hands by the looks of it. n

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