On the very first morning of Eurogamer Expo 2012, having barged my way through the crowds, there was only one thing on my mind, Halo 4. Yes, I have finally had some hands-on time with my most anticipated title of 2012.

343 were showcasing the Infinity multiplayer at Eurogamer Expo with a couple of game modes available. The first was Flood, an infection gametype which pits Spartans against Flood Forms. The infection game type, though not my personal favourite, is a mainstay of the Halo multiplayer experience and it’s nice to see it getting an overhaul. The gametype feels a little more balanced than Infection in previous titles, as the Flood are not quite so easy to kill as the zombie Spartans have been in the past.

The aim of the game remains the same, survive. I didn’t fare too well during my run but I did enjoy it, which is not something I would generally say about Infection in earlier Halo titles. The Flood Talon, the weapon available for Flood players, is an interesting addition. The entire experience has just been given a little more love in Halo 4 and I think it’s going to prove hugely popular with existing Infection fans as well as maybe persuading some of those who were not big supporters of the game type in the past.

The next game that I played was Infinity Slayer on a map called Exile. Slayer is, of course, what Halo multiplayer is all about (although I’m a SWAT man myself) and remains much as it ever was. The game that we played was a free-for-all Slayer type, with a twelve minute time limit and score limit of 600. That’s points, not kills, I should add. 343 have decided to go with a more COD style points scoring system, which doesn’t bother me in particular but is likely to irk a few fans.

We saw quite a few of the weapons and armour capabilities which will be available. Two favourites are the railgun, which packs a meaty punch and the new SAW machine gun – an epic spray and pray weapon. My personal favourite among the armour abilities was the Ordnance Drop which, when recharged, allows you to call in a weapon/stat boost drop which can really turn the tide of a match. The thrusters are also a nice addition, allowing you to boost away from danger or reach a vantage point quickly.

Halo 4 is beautiful, graphically speaking. It does have the feel of Reach about it, but with a lot more polish. I’ve heard some complaints over the similarity to the previous title but it’s to be expected, given the origin of the structures in the game. We don’t complain about Victorian architecture because it all looks the same. One thing that is definitely worth raving about in Halo 4 is the sound. 343 have gone to great lengths to provide realistic sound effects and a crisp, dramatic musical score. The music is different, it’s new, but it still sounds like Halo.

The whole experience is slightly strange. After immersing one’s self so entirely in a universe for several years, to then have someone else come along and put their own spin on it can be unnerving. Despite some trepidation, it’s wonderful to see that 343 have done such a fantastic job with the Halo franchise and I cannot wait to lay hands on the title when it drops on November 6th.

Halo 4 is scheduled for release November 6th for Xbox 360. Make sure you check out our developer session coverage with 343 Industries’ Frank O’Connor.

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