Best of 2012: #10 - Halo 4

"Wake up, Chief!"

Halo 4 marks Master Chief's triumphant return, bringing him out of a long slumber in a post-Bungie world. Not only does 343 succeed in taking over such a beloved franchise, they add depth to the series. Case in point: the story transforms Chief from the emotionless soldier we first met back in Combat Evolved, without compromising any of the qualities that make him such a badass character to begin with.

Then, 343's venture into episodic gaming through Spartan Ops mode kept players exploring this world long after the initial campaign was over. It's fun to play alone, but it's even more satisfying when playing with friends. Through new episodes, Spartan Ops offered a new way to consume Halo lore.

Remarkably, Halo 4 manages to tap into the Xbox 360 in unexpected ways. 343 took the Halo bull by the horns and rebuilt many aspects of the engine, vastly improving visual aesthetics and optimizing framerate. The result is a game that finally makes Halo the platform-defining visual masterpiece it should have always been.

The baton has been passed. 343 has taken the ball and run with it, setting the stage for yet another epic Halo trilogy.

The Shacknews Best of 2012 Awards were determined by ballot voting across the entire Shacknews staff. Garnett, Ozzie, and Steve voted for Halo 4, earning it 90 points and a tie for the 10th place position on our list. The Shacknews Community chose the game as the Xbox 360 Game of the Year. Stay tuned all week as we reveal all our winners.