Halo 4 Game Poster Image

Halo 4



Master Chief returns in sci-fi battle that's more violent.
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What parents need to know

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

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.

Not applicable

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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Platforms:Xbox 360
Skills:Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together, teamwork
Creativity: making new creations, producing new content
Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:November 6, 2012
Genre:First Person Shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Violence

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What parents and kids say

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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. Before any of my kids knew about Halo, I was worried about getting it for them because a lot of people had said that it was an "M" game. When I heard my 12 year old was playing it at his friend's house, I wasn't pleased. But then my son showed me gameplay of the title, Halo: Reach, and he told me the plot of the campaign. I reconsidered buying him the game because the gameplay wasn't very violent, and there was no gore, only mild blood. I bought him the game and he was very happy, and he played it with his brothers and my husband a lot. I come to this site often during Christmas, when I'm thinking about what games I'm going to buy for my kids. When I saw this game was coming out, I decided to buy it for them so that they could have an "early present." So I came to look at CSM, it said Not For Kids. This made me very confused, as the past titles had been marked for 16 year olds, so I decided to go and look at the review. It included several misleading remarks in the review, like saying assassinations were a new feature in Halo 4. These existed in Halo: Reach as well, and I didn't find that it bothered me very much, as it was similar to the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game. I decided to take a chance and buy it anyway for my kids, and they were so excited. When the week was over, all three of them played the game together (a rare occurrence) through the whole story. I watched them have fun and even took a couple of pictures of them using teamwork to overcome the different combat missions and heard them "distracting enemies" and "boosting each other up" to previously unreachable places. I think CSM is rarely wrong, but on this title, I'd have to disagree with myself. It's just as violent as the previous titles, which all deserved a "T" rating. I think what families should look out for is violence (you can turn the blood off and even go into 3rd person if you desire), mild language, and positive role models. This game is spectacular and I think any kid that is a fan of video games older than 12 should get this game. It teaches teamwork, reflexes, and hand-eye coordination.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Parent 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 violently beating his opponents to death" I think they were exagerating. I watched my son play through the game and it was not that violent. The hand-to-hand combat wasn't brutal like other games. I think this game should be rated Teen as should all of the Halo games.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written bybubbleman567 December 25, 2012

2 Thumbs Up

Fantastic game, and kids will be ripped of a great title by the completely wrong review by Common Sense Media. No blood or gore, so it's a good title for most 8+ children. A must buy!
What other families should know
Too much violence


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