Yes, my limited edition copy of Halo 4 has just arrived, and I can just about contain my excitement long enough to post a few pics!

The image above shows everything that comes out of the snugly-packed box when you open it: the game, encased in a sober white and grey steelbook; a plastic-backed booklet about the UNSC Infinity; a Spartan IV armour schematic belonging to one ‘Gabriel Thorne’; two small, thin packages, foil-packed. Presumably for freshness?

The smart-looking grey box is (very) snugly surrounded by a black piece of cardboard that’s a little difficult to remove without feeling like you might damage it. The grey box inside is kept closed with a nice magnetic flap, which has a nice metal clip on the edge. This bears a number – perhaps this is a truly numbered limited edition? It’s an attractive collectors piece, for sure, though I still lament the lack of a proper Legendary edition – I’m one of those mental people that has both the Halo 3 and Reach Legendary editions weighing down my shelf.

On the back, we have the usual plot synopsis, an outline of Infinity multiplayer, and a list of all the extra goodies that come with the LE.

Inside the steelbook case are two discs. As far as I’m aware, disc 2 is an install disc, with disc 1 being the authentication/play disc. I’ll find out shortly – as soon as this is up I’ll be sliding the shiny circles of goodness into my 360 and getting stuck in.

I haven’t taken any shots of the contents of the foil pouches, but I can tell you that the silver one contained a mission briefing card (apparently for the first Spartan Ops mission), while the red, resealable pouch contained all your digital goodies, such as the limited extended edition of the excellent Forward Unto Dawn.

I’m going to leave you with one final image, as I’m so eager to get stuck in that I’m just about ready to explode with excitement. So, while I go and wake the Chief, here’s that Spartan armour schematic I mentioned earlier.

If I can tear myself away later, I might share some initial thoughts on the campaign. But that’s a big ‘if’.

 

UPDATE
Ok, I’m part-way through the second mission and just wanted to share some thoughts. First off, the game is stunning to look at. If it’s not the best looking game on the 360, it’s certainly among them. Lighting in particular is excellent, as are the particle effects that are strewn throughout the first campaign mission. The sense of scale is also incredible – this is the best opening to a Halo game that there has ever been. There are also CG cutscenes here and there, for the first time in a mainline Halo title (Halo Wars also had some excellent CG scenes), and they are utterly amazing. Among the best I’ve ever seen, certainly the best I’ve ever seen in a game.

Secondly, it absolutely plays like Halo. It feels like Halo. It is Halo, it’s as simple as that. 343 nailed it. The curve of grenades feels just right (which was a worry for me after trying the game at Eurogamer Expo – their trajectory seemed a little flat). Everything works as you’d expect, everything handles as you’d expect – I’ve so far had a chance to ride both a Warthog and Ghost, and they both handle exactly as you’d want them to.

The sound has also had a major upgrade. It’s hard to really get a sense of how powerful everything sounds from videos on the web, but sound in this game is among the best I’ve ever heard. The Battle Rifle sounds absolutely beastly, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the DMR. The music, too, is absolutely top notch – different, but also perfectly suited to the landscapes that are unfurling on your screen.

One final comment I want to make is of scale. A couple of reviews have claimed that Halo’s trademark open combat areas have been dialled back in order to crank up the graphics. I haven’t seen anything to back that up yet. Sure, the first mission on the Dawn is claustrophobic and tight (until the end of the mission, which I’d hate to spoil), but hey, you’re on a starship. Think back to the first level of the original Halo – it was all corridors. The second mission is massive, as big as anything from Halo 3 or Reach so far, and one part set in a valley is big enough for a series of battles rather than just one. It’s huge.

It’s safe to say that so far I’m massively, massively impressed. I can’t emphasise how well 343 have captured the essence of Halo while also putting their own big budget stamp on it. Everything I’ve seen so far points toward a wildly accomplished debut outing for the studio, and if it carries on like this, it’ll easily be my game of the year.

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