Tag Archives: Halo

Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Remastered FPS Excellence

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 Master Chief Collection

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.

Halo Master Chief Collection

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.

Halo Master Chief Collection

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.

Halo Master Chief Collection

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

What Modern Marriages Could Learn from Master Chief and Cortana

Once upon a time, a man and woman met and started dating.  It was nothing less than bliss.  After feeling their hearts jump in glee at the sight of each other for several months, they decided to take the next step and a few more months down the road they were married.  But now it’s been a year and they don’t feel bliss or hearts jumping anymore.  Now this person they’re married to has faults and issues, and they want out.

Master Chief and Cortana by MikkeSWE
Courtesy of MikkeSWE on deviantART

This probably sounds very familiar, as divorce is rampant in our society.  There are many psychological and sociological reasons behind this phenomenon, such as how modern entertainment, media, and the consumer market create products that continually push the limits on human focus and create in us shorter and shorter attention spans.  However, I’m not here to explain the factors leading to divorce.  I’m here to explain how one of the most-loved video games of all time could benefit the one you most love.

When Bungie created the Halo universe, they obviously paid close attention to developing the relationship between Master Chief and the AI Cortana.  Their relationship is so close that gamers have speculated as to its true nature; are Master Chief and Cortana somehow in love, or are they just an incredible team? Fans have even made art of, well, a sexual nature between the Spartan and AI.  Despite that impossibility, the relationship of these two characters exudes beneficial principles that we regular humans would do well to apply to our own real-life marriages.

First of all, I’d dare anyone to challenge the trust between Master Chief and Cortana.  She gives him directions on where to go and what needs to get done, and he rarely questions her.  When he does question her, it’s usually because he is not able to comprehend everything her computer brain has access to and can process, like when she told him to go stop Captain Keyes in Halo: Combat Evolved.

Ultimately, though when Lord Hood questions if Master Chief trusts in Cortana in Halo 3, Chief responds definitively, “Sir. Yes, sir.”  No hesitation whatsoever.  Trust is a difficult feature to develop in a relationship, but the only thing that ever helps it is more trust, never doubts.  I can only recall one instance of doubt between Chief and Cortana, and that’s where she expresses her surprise at him coming back to save her from the tortures of the Gravemind.

Speaking of Cortana’s torture, this situation presented a more particular angle of the duo’s relationship that we could apply to our marriages today, and that is the virtues of dedication and loyalty.  Master Chief could have left Cortana behind entirely, letting her rot away her final years as a digital being at the whims of the Gravemind.  However, he explicitly made a promise to her that he would find her, and he followed through on that promise:

Remember those wedding vows you took?  Now think about seriously holding to them like Master Chief did when he kept his promise to Cortana, risking his life to save her.

Finally, notice that Cortana warns of her brokenness after being tortured by the Gravemind.  She says, “So much of me is wrong – out of place.  It may be too late.”  Her mental issues (or broken coding?) don’t put off Master Chief in the slightest.  Instead, he says, “You know me.”  He again demonstrates his willingness to stay by her side and help her no matter what state of mind and body she is in.  How many divorces in this world could be diverted if we were just as willing to overlook the faults of our spouses, or aid them in getting past these faults as much as possible to become better people, and ultimately, a better couple?  All of us are broken in some way or another, and if we stopped expecting perfection, maybe we’d see more of the support shown by Master Chief to Cortana in our marriages, as well.

I’m sure that you could pull more positive examples from this Spartan and his AI the more you dig into their interactions.  Despite their relationship in the video games being on a more platonic level than a marriage calls for, this does not mean they do not give us a wonderful example to follow in the areas they succeed in, such as trust, loyalty, and support.  Maybe if we followed Master Chief and Cortana’s principles, we’d see a lot more couples stay together for far longer than Halo games have been in existence.

Cortana in Master Chief's hand

CCI 2012: Halo 4 – Forward Unto Dawn Live-Action Trailer Plus Multiplayer Reactions!

As if Comic-Con wasn’t exciting enough, Microsoft and 343 Industries released the official trailer yesterday for their upcoming digital web series, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn. It. Is. Epic.

Based on the beloved Halo universe, the series will premiere on October 5, 2012, on machinima.com’s new premiere channel, Machinima Prime, and on Halo Waypoint on Xbox Live. Five episodes are planned for promotional purposes leading up to the release of Halo 4 on November 6. The official Xbox Halo Waypoint site says, “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn brings a brand new Halo story to life on a scale never before seen in the Halo Universe.” (Xbox.com: Halo Waypoint)

The story goes something like this:

Set against the backdrop of a United Nations Space Command (UNSC) military academy, a group of highborn cadets are training to be the next generation of soldiers in the UNSC’s ongoing war with insurrectionists in the outer colonial planets. Among these cadets, Thomas Lasky struggles with his doubts about this war, and with the burden of expectations he may not be able to carry. As Lasky comes to terms with his potential as a military leader, the terrifying alien alliance known as the Covenant arrives and turns his world upside down. Inspired by the Master Chief, he must decide what it means to be a hero. Halo fans who experience Lasky’s thrilling origin story in Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn will be rewarded with special insights into the story of Halo 4 and the “Halo Infinity Multiplayer” experience. (finance.yahoo.com)

Written by Todd and Aaron Helbing of Smallville and Spartacus, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn also boasts director Stewart Hendler of Sorority Row. The up-and-coming cast is riddled with smaller names that have made appearances in big-title films. For example, Master Chief will be played by Daniel Cudmore, who has been in X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, and The Twilight Saga. Tom Green (Dance Academy) will play Thomas Lasky, the character whose story drives the web series. More stars and their respective characters include Anna Popplewell (The Chronicles of Narnia) as Chyler Silva, Ayelet Zurer (Angels & Demons, Munich) as Mehaffey, Mike Dopud (Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol) as General Black, Enisha Brewster (Footloose) as April Orenski, Masam Holden (Grey’s Anatomy, Elizabethtown) as Michael “Sully” Sullivan, Osric Chau (2012) as JJ Chen, Iain Belcher (Supernatural) as Vickers, and Kat De Lieva as Dimah. (finance.yahoo.com)

Do I think this web series will be incredible? I think that was just a rhetorical question. Of course it will be. When video games started coming out with live-action trailers before the official release dates, all I could think of was, “That’s genius! What a way to get people more interested in the story than the gameplay. Video games are becoming real and relatable now.” Then when I saw the “Remember Reach” trailer which came out for Halo: Reach‘s promotion, I thought, “HO-LY SHIT. What did I just see?! My mind cannot contain or comprehend the glories that just scrolled in front of my eyes.”

If I was that stoked about the Reach trailer, you can very well expect this Halo fan of over 10 years to be more than ecstatic for another live-action viewing opportunity. For those of you wondering about the actual Halo 4 gameplay that is currently available at Comic-Con, all I can report is that our very own C Tan claims that the “multiplayer is awesome.” Take our word for it. (EDITOR’S NOTE: It was pretty sweet. Reminds me more of Halo 2 multi versus Halo 3, which is good. What was bad was I sucked at playing Halo so I got my ass kicked. Regardless, enjoyable and just feels a bit more balanced but that might have to deal with the fact no one else played it and didn’t have a great feel off the bat.)

For some additional eye candy on this series, you should check out this video by IGN: IGN First Look: Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn Behind-the-Scenes. They were able to attend the set in Vancouver, B.C., and get some incredible behind-the-scenes footage. You can then add this to your list of total Halo achievements completed.

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