Xbox’s premier franchise is undoubtedly the Halo series. For several years, FPS fans have flocked to Microsoft’s home consoles to step into Master Chief’s boots and deal with the alien menace that threatens him and the human race. The Xbox One’s next main Halo numbered title (Halo 5: Guardians) is a year away. Microsoft Studios, 343 Industries and several other game development teams know this, which is why they have compiled all four main Halo games into one complete package. Halo: The Master Chief Collection does an awesome job of making the wait for Halo 5 a lot more manageable.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection provides the best looking versions of the Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4. It’s easy to see that owning this collection means you own the definitive editions of each game. Each of these entries now run at an impressive 60 frames per second and every game except for the Halo 2 remake has a native resolution of 1080p. All four titles look amazing with their new coat of fresh graphical paint, especially Halo 2. The redone cut scenes, soundtracks and updated visuals for Halo 2 Remastered‘s multiplayer stage offerings are the most impressive part of this entire collection. Hitting a button to switch between the past visuals and upgraded graphics is also a nice touch for Halo 1 and Halo 2.
The single-player portions of each game are offered in their full glory. Diehard Halo fans who have played through each game’s story extensively know what to expect here. For those you who have never touched even one of these games, you’re in for bouts of enjoyment and unwelcome frustration. In this reviewers opinion, it’s easy to see which games rank from great to decent when it comes to their overall campaign – Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 4 and Halo 1. Having the option to pick any mission you want from any game and customizing the available Skulls and other game factors that impact each play session is awesome. However, each game remains unchanged in the gameplay department. Each game has an issue of constant backtracking, more specifically Halo 1 (damn that Library level!). The ho-hum Arbiter stages from Halo 2 are still disappointing, too.
While the issues persistent in each game is still prevalent, the fun factor of each game is also still present. Simply put, this is the best way to chronologically experience the main adventures of Master Chief. The lack of other Halo games (Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach) is a noticeable problem, but this is The Master Chief Collection after all, so those omissions should come as no surprise. The main attraction here of course is the multiplayer component. All four entries include their respective game modes, plus fan favorite options such as Forge and Theater are thankfully here. The biggest addition to multiplayer is the option to play through preset mission playlists for all four games. The mixing and matching of co-op missions provides hours of replayability.
At launch though, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is plagued by online connectivity issues that keep you from enjoying the full multiplayer suite. Waiting to connect to online games and group up with random/friendly players takes forever. And finally getting into a map may lead to issues such as an unequal number of players on teams or major lag. It’s depressing to see the online multiplayer portion of the game be hampered by apparent launch problems. Patches will surely fix this issue over time, but it’s still saddening to see upon release.
Along with the games seen in The Master Chief Collection, a bevy of other extras are offered. The Halo: Nightfall live-action series can be viewed (to be completely honest, it’s really not that impressive), as well as access to Halo 5’s multiplayer beta at a later date, story videos from each game and a Help menu for Halo newcomers. With all that included in a $60 package, it’s hard to find a reason to NOT want this collection. Halo: The Master Chief Collection still includes the issues that plagued each game from its first release and online connectivity issues, but the remastered work done on each one makes this the best way to experience Master Chief’s journey.
Images: Microsoft Studios, Bungie, 343 Industries, Ruffian Games, Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity