They’re the two biggest games of the year without a shadow of a doubt, and ones with fervently opposed fanbases; Halo 4 fans tend to dismiss the annualised release pattern and more casual appeal of the Call of Duty games, while Black Ops fans, typically a more casual type of gamer, aren’t really into that sci-fi stuff (somewhat ironic given the setting and aesthetic of Black Ops 2, though). Having played both games, we’ve decided to assess which is, in as objective a manner as possible, the best game.
The overarching plot in Halo 4 takes a back-seat to character development admittedly (and we’ll get to that in a second), but Halo 4 has an intriguing enough narrative, particularly as it pertains to Cortana, and seeing whether she can find a way to resolve her seemingly inevitable technological melt-down. Though the “land on planet, shoot aliens” part of the story is as familiar as ever, it’s the unexpected emotional dimension that the game enters to in its later stages that proves most surprising and compelling.
Black Ops 2, meanwhile, also raises the emotional stakes considerably from what we’ve seen before; likely thanks to David S. Goyer (who wrote the story for The Dark Knight), the action feels more character-driven than ever before, and the narrative is therefore more visceral and less invested in simplistic jingoism that has characterised the series up to this point. Even the villain is more sympathetic and ambiguous than before, giving the player a little more agency in what is taking place.
Still, despite the in-roads Black Ops 2 has made, Halo 4 really runs away with it here; its story just feels more coherent and keen to form a complete arc, even if part of a bigger “new trilogy”.
WINNER: Halo 4
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