Halo 4

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Halo 4 Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Master Chief returns in sci-fi battle that's more violent.

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 73 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 309 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Halo 4 wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

Positive Messages

This game glamorizes fantastical and futuristic violence by putting players in the boots of a space marine seemingly capable of wiping out entire alien armies by himself. Its intent is to entertain via images of spectacular sci-fi combat.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Master Chief is a relentless warrior who uses violence to solve virtually every problem he encounters. That said, he's clearly a good guy intent on saving his fellow humans as well as his home planet, Earth. He also exhibits some real human emotion, especially in his close friendship with the artificial intelligence Cortana.

Ease of Play

Halo 4 plays almost exactly like previous Halo games, so returning players -- and anyone used to modern first-person shooters in general -- should find themselves at home in minutes. Multiple difficulty modes allow both rookies and veterans to set a suitable level of challenge, though beginners could have a frustrating time online, where competition is steep.


Players kill alien creatures using a vast arsenal of realistic and fantastical weapons, including rifles, pistols, grenades, energy swords, rockets, and vehicles. Enemies flail realistically when struck, screaming and spurting colorful blood that stains the environment. For the first time in this series, melee kills sometimes result in the camera pulling back to show a more cinematic shot of the Master Chief violently beating his opponent to death. Humans become the player's target in online multiplayer mode. They bleed red blood and grunt when killed.


The artificial intelligence Cortana projects a form that mimics the body of a real woman. Her "body" is composed of flashing, scrolling light and shows no detail, but the crisp lines of her body suggests she may be nude.


This game is part of Microsoft's juggernaut Halo franchise, which spans books, comics, live-action films, and toys.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Halo 4 is a sci-fi-themed first-person shooter in which players take on the role of an enhanced super-soldier to kill hundreds of alien enemies in story mode and potentially thousands of human avatars in online matches. Unlike many other first-person shooters, there's no foul language or gore, but there is plenty of blood -- aliens bleed yellow and blue, humans bleed red -- plus new cinematic animations that make hand-to-hand combat kills appear more dramatic. This version of Halo ups the ante in terms of violence as players can now watch Master Chief violently beating his opponents to death. Parents should be aware, too, that this game supports open online communication with strangers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of an infant, infant, 11, 14, and 16-year-old Written byCMY666 November 11, 2012

Halo 4 is ON for kids 12 and up

This is a spectacular game. I am a mother of a 12 year old, 14 year old, and a 16 year old. They all enjoy this game very much and play it with my husband. Befo... Continue reading
Adult Written byWilli3m November 6, 2012

Shouldn't be "M" should be "T"

When they say "hand-to-hand combat kills appear more dramatic. This version of Halo ups the ante in terms of violence as players can now watch Master Chief... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySwaggyTurtleGamer March 28, 2015

Not For KIDS!! Are you kidding ME!

I got this game last year. It has great single and multiplayer modes. There is some cursing, but not close to COD. There is lot's of blood, but the violenc... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bycoolguy87 June 2, 2014

Not for kids? More like not for Babies.

Oh come on, it's just shooting aliens, you can turn off the blood and I can't remember 1 time where you shoot humans. And, the "intense cinematic... Continue reading

What's it about?

HALO 4, the Master Chief's first new adventure in five years, picks up right where its predecessor left off, with a broken UNSC ship floating dead in space. The Chief rests inside in cryosleep, the artificial intelligence Cortana holding watch. It's not long, however, before the vessel falls under attack by Covenant forces, and the Chief soon finds himself crashing onto the surface of a strange alien world. The story that follows reveals new details about the Forerunners (the ancient aliens who designed the series' titular halos), exposes a new threat to humanity, and delves into the Chief's close friendship with Cortana, who is suffering a kind of digital mental breakdown. In addition to the six hour campaign, which shows off new weapons and vehicles (including alien rifles and a towering UNSC mech), players can look forward to more of Halo's trademark multiplayer action, including a serialized cooperative campaign composed of new episodes releasing on a weekly basis.

Is it any good?

The Master Chief's long-awaited return manages to live up to the series' daunting reputation, delivering an experience that feels very much like a classic Halo game while adding a few new elements to the formula. Missions are fast-paced and often spectacular, new enemies are smart and challenging, and online play is extremely habit-forming. Plus, players finally get to peer a little more deeply into the Master Chief's soul thanks to a narrative that sees him fighting through hordes of deadly enemies to save his ailing digital friend Cortana. (Turns out he's a bit of a softie when it comes to his long-time A.I. companion.)

One wishes the campaign lasted a little longer, and that the co-op missions had more shape and a deeper narrative, but these are minor criticisms. Halo 4 is the sort of game that many players will keep in their consoles for weeks on end, making it a great value for the grownup gamers it's intended to entertain.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in media. Do you feel differently fighting fantastical aliens instead of realistic human enemies?

  • Families can also discuss online safety. What precautions do you observe in games with open voice communication? What do you do when you encounter strangers engaging in inappropriate behavior?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure and action

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate