I don't often buy guides for games unless they're for big, expansive adventure games like the Legend of Zelda series or Okami, to name two examples; and even when I buy guides, they're often only as a side reference to make sure I didn't miss collectibles or whatnot. Why would you want a guide for a game as straightforward and action heavy as Halo? A question I pondered heavily before making this purchase. However, I love Halo as a series so much that I decided to splurge on this limited edition guide and boy am I glad I did. This beastly tome is nearly 500 pages long. I'll let that fact sit in the air for you to digest for a minute. Yes, 500 pages of guide devoted to Halo. What could they possibly fill that many pages with regarding a single Halo entry? Turns out, everything plus the kitchen sink, but nothing here is watered down with filler to stretch it out that much. It really is a helpful guide.
First off, Halo 4 is a fantastic game, and 343 Industries really took the series to new heights in terms of story, scale, detail, and gameplay possibilities. This guide rises to the occasion in almost every way. The book starts with an introduction to the Halo series, followed by a "basics" section that tells you anything you'd want to know about the characters, weapons, enemies, etc, that will be in the game. Great start.
The campaign section of the guide is very detailed, and not just about what you'd encounter just playing through the campaign as a normal, casual gamer would. There are detailed maps and descriptions of every major battle site and combat situation that all scream quality and attention to detail. For hardcore Halo fans, there are boxes labeled "Legendary Strategy" that proves to be sage advice. The guide also goes into great detail about hidden things, such as terminals and easter eggs. I didn't really use the campaign guide on my first playthrough as I wanted to be surprised by each new story event, but as I read it now, I really appreciate the writer's discretion. He avoids many spoilers, and that's much appreciated.
The "Infinity", also known as multiplayer, section is really impressive. Not only are there meticulously detailed maps of each map, helpful info on each weapon and armor ability, and how the new ranking, load-out, and customization systems all work, but the book also has tons of advice written by many notable MLG gamers who obviously know their stuff. The advice they wrote here has been really helpful to me. Most of the Infinity section is devoted to the competitive "War Games" mode of multiplayer. Seeing how 90% of Spartan Ops hasn't even been released, and some of it hasn't even been finished yet, they didn't have a whole lot to write about it in this book, but I'll take what I can get. Fortunately, there's a code included with the book that allows you access to a special site online where Prima WILL post new updates each week to coincide with each new Spartan Ops episode. While I don't think this is ideal, it is the best one can do under the circumstances, and I find it to be a really nice touch.
There's an appendix that essentially breaks down lots of technical info into simple charts chronicling things like when each armor piece and emblem will unlock, every possible commendation and the rewards associated with each, stats on each weapon, and other things like that. I've found it to be a helpful resource.
That's the content of the guide, all great. How's the presentation though? In a word, awesome. There are high-quality screenshots, pictures, and concept art strewn about the book that is simply stunning to look at. Overall, the guide's format is clean and minimalistic in an attempt to mimic the human aesthetic from the Halo universe. It works well, and leaves the book looking clean and fresh. Nice job Prima! And how about that cover? The picture of John facing the cryptum is gorgeous beyond words. The bright orange parts of the color are foil, so the cover really pops out at you in pretty stunning fashion.
Lastly, there's the additions specific to the limited edition. The end of the book has roughly 50 or so pages filled with interviews with various members of the 343 team that made Halo 4. Needless to say, it's an interesting addition and the kind I always appreciate with books of this nature. It's always cool to hear the experiences of the those who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into such beloved game series as Halo. The limited edition also comes with large reference cards for each multiplayer map, as well as a code to download your own avatar shirt (that happens to be the same image as the cover of the guide itself) unique to this guide. The cards and avatar download are nice additions, but ultimately, it's the guide's quality content and brilliant cover that helps the limited edition really steal the show.
Like I said earlier, I don't often buy guides for games. I am so glad I did in this case. It's not only an incredibly helpful resource, but the limited edition's stellar design and brilliant cover make this a book I'd proudly display on my coffee table. It's a fantastic book to get, and especially if you're a big fan of Halo. I fall into "huge fan" category, and that been said, it's a book you'll probably want to have. Trust me. :)