Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review
"A Whole Bunch of Halo"
I'm sure at this point you're more than well aware of The Master Chief Collection and what exactly it contains. If not I'm going to go over it as I have to anyways. With this collection you will be getting the four primary Halo games that star the Master Chief and they're all shining quite better than they ever have before. On top of that you also get access to the entire library of multiplayer maps that count to well over a hundred with some Anniversary maps from Halo 2 that have been shined up as well. Finally you get access to the future Halo 5: Guardians Beta happening in December 2014 and Halo: Nightfall which is an episodic movie shown over time on the Halo Channel.
I was a tad disappointed I wasn't able to check that all out early, though I'll cover it once it has all released. This will also be the most in-depth review I have ever done as I've never encountered so many titles on one particular collection and of course since it's Halo, a true love of mine. So for this purpose it will be broken down by game to go over changes of editions and then the usual columns below towards that final score at the bottom which you could skip right to I suppose. Should also mention that the games have all moved towards a cross-game control scheme that keeps it relatively simple with only minor changes between the games.
Halo: Combat Evolved
The mysterious title that started it all back in the good old year of 2001 when I was but a young lad then playing at a friend's house. We were luckily given a tenth anniversary edition back a few years ago which revamped the graphics along with adding terminals and skulls to the gameplay. There were also achievements for the first time and some Kinect add-ins that didn't make it into this package as they were very awkward/delayed. Combat Evolved looks even better with the higher resolution and frames while keeping that iconic look. Switching between the graphics of new and old is instant now compared to being delayed in the past. I can't say it looks insanely upgraded, but these additions to make it perform much better.
The improved movement systems are also back which I mean the added lights to paths in order to make movement through the world more guided. All the charm of the original is still there at core, though the new controller makes the gameplay feel much better with areas definitely using the rumble to the full advantage. To recap on the story, the Pillar of Autumn is being chased from Reach with them running into a ring world called Halo. The Master Chief along with Cortana take the battle to the surface where they discover the history of this strange place while running into a deadly secret held deep below its surface. An epic story with mystery and some of the best FPS gameplay of all time. On Site we originally gave Halo: CE Anniversary a 9/10.
This is the big one or well the focus of this pack since Halo 2 has finally hit it's ten year anniversary. It's so hard for me to believe that it has been ten years already and I'm shocked. Getting the full anniversary treatment the entire graphics have been overhauled to make it look like a fresh title of today while preserving the game we fell in love with so long ago. Additionally cutscenes have been completely redone by Blur which should be given a budget to make us a feature length film already, because damn. Those cutscenes are so lifelike to the point I'd say they should be standard for games and even movies from which I have never seen that quality before. Everything gameplay wise feels the exact same though the quality of the new textures definitely makes a huge difference.
You can switch between the graphics instantly and the original holds up very nicely as well as the newer graphics. Cortana also looks a tad weird in the new version game textures compared to the original except in the cutscenes where she looks the best she ever has. Gameplay feels great and exactly like it did back in the day although the new Xbox One controller makes everything feel much more alive with the rumble along with scheme options. Terminals have been added with some more back story and lore filling, along with achievements for doing basically every easter egg. Not a bunch has changed at the core, but it's much better looking with expanded vistas and texture details across many of the locales. Recap story wise for Halo 2, we have the Master Chief collecting awards for the destruction of Halo and the covenant attack Earth. Split side to that we have the now disgraced covenant leader dubbed the Arbiter going on suicide missions for the prophets. It's a two perspective epic having everything meet together towards the end as the elites in midst of a civil war learn the rings true purpose.
Now we move onto my absolute most favorite campaign of the Chief Collection as I definitely spent so many hours playing this when I was younger. There really isn't much done to Halo 3 except for much better texture showing, better foliage and quite enhanced lighting. The lighting looks great on so many of the levels and definitely brings more life to all of the levels. Particle effects in the air and landscape shine much better than before with Floodgate being a great example with the ash fitting in much better. The updated resolution and 60fps which is frame rate greatly improve the fluidity of the levels along with the many explosions/interactions going on in each of the levels.
I will say this does feel the least touched up of them all as I suppose some areas and textures could have used revamps. I hope there's a small update in the future for the anniversary of Halo 3, but this will work absolutely fine for years. Skulls and other small easter eggs return as well in this one along with those terminals that we all love. This campaign is truly epic and I'll spend many more hours playing through these levels so many times over. To recap the Halo 3 story, we were left with an intense cliff-hanger in Halo 2 and at Earth everything is falling apart. Worst off the Chief doesn't have Cortana as she was left behind and the Chief fights across many landscapes in this epic conclusion to the trilogy, woops. Throw some prophets, a bunch of wild flood forms and the now friendly elites for one hell of a battle. On site we originally gave Halo 3 a 10/10.
You would expect me to say that Halo 4 would have little changes, but you can clearly see that this was meant to be a next generation title that was ported to the Xbox 360. The fine particles, lighting and general world feels much more alive while looking like a brand new game release. The 60FPS is just crazy with explosions, and movement too fluid. It looks just great and of course all the other smaller items like easter eggs return in this one.
I can't say anything else is different as it's all together and ready to go like you played just a few years previous. Cutscenes also look much better with the higher frame rate if that wasn't clear in the graphics area as they're run in-engine. For recap on story with Halo 4 the Chief is an aging spartan, Cortana isn't looking fantastic and the Forerunners have returned in the form of the Didact (war leader) on this shield world called Requiem. The Chief awakens from slumber in Halo 3 and does everything he can to stop the Didact with the later gained help of the largest ship the UNSC has ever commissioned, The Infinity. On site we originally gave Halo 4 a 9.2/10.
Bringing a ranking system that many of you know along with social playlists, hoppers and other selections this will let you play exactly what you want. I'm more than sure these servers will be packed with people for a long time with a vast number of players. Personally I will spend much of my time playing Halo 3 as that's my favorite though each game is evenly represented. I noticed in Halo: CE specifically they added a weird pistol headshot hit marker sound which is ever so annoying, but I'm sure that'll be patched out right away.
Another great addition to throw in there is the Gungoose with Gungoose CTF being the most amazing mode and being slightly like the old racing modes, but capture the flag mongeese carnage! Aside from that everything runs smoothly with the dedicated servers to make sure everyone keeps equal and fluid. Armour customizing has also been removed from selection to a number of presets though it really isn't too much of a big deal, there are also many great new customizing options for your online profile.
Easily the bread of the community for Halo, custom games are well designed and have so many damn options for us. There were many glitchy issues around the setup for this and they still didn't make it possible for us to split teams up by host. Additionally some issues getting everything going, but I hope these will get fixed up. Yet again there are so many things to switch up with more game modes, though strangely some games are lacking selections with new ones. I'm more than excited to see hoppers make their way to customs in terms of modes, excited to see how it evolves over time. So many more memories will be had and custom matches played!
Six maps have been given the full Anniversary treatment with this package from Halo 2. The remakes are of Lockout; Coagulation, Warlock, Zanzibar, Ascension and Sanctuary. Each have new small changes and amazing scenery. It's nice to see them all done, but at this point they're just more redone maps. Some events can also be triggered within these like having a waterfall come down on Sanctuary (Shrine) or Lockout (Lockdown) having ice shower onto the map. Aside from these maps there are also some Forge levels based off of the Halo 2 maps with some updated items on these though I'll talk about that in the section below.
This brings back the original forge options for Halo 3 and Halo 4 with no changes to those. The only big changes have been with the Halo 2: Anniversary maps that bring us an empty canvas with beautiful sky boxes. We also have been given some scripting options, a few secret items in terms of vehicles and finally some natural items. I was somehow too happy to see some foliage involved as that could make things seem less plastic like. Snapping and magnets are back as well, with great precision in making sure everything is even. Though these changes are small, it powers the much better forgers to create some crazy future potential maps. File sharing returns as well and Forge is the best area to mention it in as you can make things available for download and such as always.
Every Halo game feels the exact same as when you played and loved it upon release. They have all been updated to 1080p except for Halo 2 Anniversary which runs just slightly under it. All the games also have a smooth 60fps which helps the play feel much more fluid and every player can appreciate that. The universal controller scheme which I've mentioned previously works well across all the games with only minor adjustments. There are some issues in remembering certain things that differ, but it's much more aligned now.
Everything runs smoothly across the menus and in-game with only some minor party issues. Aside from picking and choosing your campaign missions you can also pick a cross-playlist. This is a mix-up of many levels across games or within in order to give a quicker run through though I preferred picking whatever I wanted. The selection of changing options in matches is well done, though at times in custom games it was more difficult than needed to select things. Graphics perform well across all titles with better resolution and no hick ups that I noticed.
The Master Chief Collection is the greatest compilation in gaming history. For the price you literally cannot find a better package anywhere and this is a major title for the Xbox. Packing in over a decade of memories and all the prime Halo games (sorry Reach) into one package amongst other things, it's ridiculous. In the total package you get Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary; Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo Nightfall (movie) and the Halo 5: Guardians Beta in December (2014). These games have always been the flagship titles on all Xbox consoles and putting them all together in one package is madness.
The amount of studios working on this is also crazy with each of them bringing a different aspect to the table. There's so many hours of gameplay and things to do which will have me hooked for a many years even past the Halo 5 release. I love all of these games so much and there's many like me that will enjoy the experience as much as I have. Growing up on these titles I can't suggest this package more, especially if you have never played any before as you can get into for the next games release. Multiplayer is also amazing with so much content put together and a Forge system that will keep us playing for a many years into the future. The ultimate collection of Halo is its own reason to buy and Xbox with more content packed together than any other one in history.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review for Xbox One
Review Code Provided by Microsoft
Rating Overall: 10