HALO The Master Chief Collection
Format: Xbox One
Release Date: November 2014
Easily one of the most anticipated games to be released for the Xbox One this year, HALO The Master Chief Collection has finally arrived.
HALO The Master Chief Collection consists of HALO Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition, HALO 2 Anniversary Edition, HALO 3 and HALO 4 (No love for HALO Wars, HALO ODST or HALO Reach as these do not feature the Master Chief) remade for Xbox One, along with over 100 remastered maps to be played in multi-player mode on-line on Xbox Live. Also included are a Beta access for HALO 5 and HALO Nightfall, a live action digital series from Executive Producer Ridley Scott to be streamed on a weekly basis via Xbox Live.
This collection is beautifully presented running at 60fps and all but HALO 2 running at 1080p, with remastered graphics and sound, with HALO 2 getting the most tinkering and treatment out of the four. This allow those who have played these games before to do so with a nostalgic feeling of those first battles with the Covenant and giving newcomers a chance to play these classics with out the out-dated graphics, although with a press of a button the games can be played with the original graphics.
All four games come on a single disc and are playable in any order you wish. There is also an option that allows you to create your own playlist allowing you to play missions from all four games in whatever sequence you like, which is great for skipping to those epic big scale fire fights that HALO is known for. Another great feature is that all four games can be played co-op with up to four players either through the dying art of split screen or on-line via Xbox Live.
HALO Combat Evolved - the first game in the series introduces us to the Master Chief, the last of a human Super-Soldier program known as the Spartans, as he and his A.I. companion, Cortana, take on the Covenant, an alien alliance at war with Earth. This version of the game is more or less the same Anniversary version that arrived on the Xbox 360 back in 2011. Of course just because the game has been given a new sheen doesn’t mean that in some places it doesn’t show its age, some dips in framerate are visible along with textures that seem to be have been forgotten to be up-scaled. This thankfully, doesn’t take away from the still majestic story telling, epic large scale battles and beautiful scenery and soundtrack.
HALO 2 Anniversary Edition – Once again, everything has been remastered: graphics, cutscenes, soundtrack and sound effects – right down to the clunking metallic sound of the Chief’s boots. Although the game has been been brought up to a more modern day standard of graphics, again there are the odd dip in framerate and times where enemies do seem to freeze mid battle but nothing too much that takes you out of the whole experience.
HALO 3 – Out of the four games in this collection this is the one that suffers most in the looks department as it doesn’t seem to have got the same treatment as the Anniversary editions of HALO and HALO 2. For me, this is the game I have fondest memories of playing the first time round, as it was the only game in the series that I played in four player co-op from start to finish.
Halo 4 - This game looks gorgeous on Xbox One running at 60fps and 1080p and really does look like it was made for it all along. This is definitely down to it already looking so good on the Xbox 360 when it was first released. Coming so late in the Xbox 360 life span I never got to finish HALO 4 so I’m relishing the fact I can finally get round to doing so in all of its remastered glory.
Unfortunately at time of writing this review the servers and matchmaking have been having some problems and it is quite difficult to get playing an on-line game in either multi-player or co-op. When you do get a chance the game can lag a lot or disconnect you without warning. 343 Industries have said they are aware of the problems and are working to try and fix the problem.
Returning Halo fans will find all their favourite maps from previous games, especially those from Halo 2 as the servers for the original game were recently switched off much to the dismay of some fans, all remastered and ready to host up to 16 player online battles.
Newcomers to the series may find that there is a steep learning curve to on-line play, especially at the start, finding themselves getting killed more times than actually killing anyone, but with a few hours practice you will soon be getting multi-kills and headshots and more used to map layouts and gear layouts. When multi-player is working it can be great and is best playing with friends either in the same team or on opposing sides.
One more thing to note, because all four games are on one Disc this does mean that there can be a long installation time (45 mins – 1 hr seems to be average) and there is also a mandatory update to download before even playing the game which also can be quite a while installing.
Verdict: This game can be picked up for £40, four full games for the price of one, and I would recommend this to all HALO fans both old and new, first-person-shooter fans or to anyone who is looking for exceptional value when buying a game. With 45 Campaign missions, 100 multi-player maps (hopefully working soon) and 4,000 Gamerscore points available, this should keep the average and even the hardcore gamer busy for a while.
4.5 Nerds out of 5
Thanks to guest reviewer Jonathan Fitzpatrick…