Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nostalgia. It’s a fun, but surprisingly poignant term to many of us. I know I think about how fantastic the cartoons were when I was young, how they seem to be better than what is on television today. However, this feeling of nostalgia can be blinding; do these things from the past actually stand the test of time or do they fail to deliver the level of enjoyment that you remember?

With that said, I have had the luxury of spending the last two weeks reviewing what is no doubt a piece of nostalgia for many of us, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and in short it doesn’t need a weapon, because it brought a war chest with it.

For those of you whom may not know what Halo: The Master Chief Collection is, here’s a brief.  It’s a collection of all of the Halo games that Master Chief makes an appearance in, it includes a remastered version of Halo 2, all of the titles run at 1080p 60FPS (Aside from Halo 2 Anniversary campaign, but we’ll touch on that later), and finally, but certainly not least it includes untouched multiplayer from each of the four games, their respective maps, and an all new version of multiplayer Halo 2 Anniversary which is a new experience based on Halo 2 Classic.

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It’s almost daunting when you first boot up Halo: The Master Chief Collection, what should you do first? Play the Halo Campaigns in chronological order?, play the showpiece of the game, Halo 2 Anniversary?, or jump into multiplayer?  All of these choices are sensible and entertaining. I had to give it a fair amount of thought, but settled on playing Halo 4 first, given all of the claims that it looked “next gen”. It’s safe to say that there’s no doubt that it’s an impressive game with just an upped resolution and improved lighting engine.  Some of the textures do, on occasion, look blurry or imperfect, but given that they are directly from a Xbox 360 title, I think it’s forgivable.

After playing the first level of Halo 4, I promptly made my way into the shining star of The Master Chief Collection, Halo 2 Anniversary.  You’ll notice that when you first start the game, you’re greeted with a prologue that was not present in the original Halo 2, which ties into Halo 5. This Blur cinematic was an astounding way to start off the campaign, and made me genuinely excited to see more of these absurdly beautiful cutscenes. So we know that these cutscenes deliver, but does Halo 2 itself? The answer is a resounding yes!

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The game performs better than ever. It’s easy to say that 60fps makes for a definitive Halo experience. It feels like second nature to me now, and I worry that if I was to ever go back to the original releases, that they would simply feel too slow. However, while it hits 60fps most of the time, there are sometimes noticable drops during large battles, or when you use certain skulls. It doesn’t occur often enough to be a major issue though. While it’s amazingly fluid (for Halo 2), some things may stand out to modern first person shooter players, such as it’s slower pace and it’s much less fluid gun control (when compared to later Halo titles), but these are by all means forgivable. They are not game breaking and do not adversely effect gameplay to any extents that would frustrate the majority of people.

With all of that said, it would be against 343’s ideals if they were to change any of the package that is not superficial. You are truly playing Halo 2. The superficial changes such as the graphics, cutscenes and new sounds all help to better immerse the player in the world that is Halo.

While it is not the most impressive looking game on the Xbox One. Halo 2 Anniversary is beautifully remastered. The new lighting system, textures, and skyboxes are just a few of the many things that go towards making Halo 2 Anniversary look like a Xbox One game. Instant graphics switching also is perfectly implemented. There is zero lag between hitting the button on your controller and watching the game switch modes on your TV. Due to this instant switching mode Halo 2 Anniversary (Single Player) only runs in 1328×1080. This tradeoff does not hinder the games looks in the least, and is certainly worthwhile to allow instant switching. It’s safe to say that 343 Industries has succeeded in the graphics department. I only have one minor gripe with the graphics in the game. In certain situations, the new lighting system can prove to be a hindrance. It simply makes certain locations far too dark, to the point where it is significantly easier to simply go into classic mode and play.

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The sound in Halo 2 Anniversary is in some ways almost overwhelming. The level of detail in how weapons sound is second to none, I feel like I am firing the weapon. Everything has a certain beefiness to it, which is superb, because it’s much more satisfying than firing something that sounds like a toy pistol. If you’re a fan of music in general, you’re in for a treat. The remastered soundtrack for Halo 2 Anniversary is a perfect evolution of the Halo 2 music we know and love. Comparatively, not only is the new soundtrack in 5.1 surround sound, it also simply sounds better. The original, while amazing, doesn’t have the same fidelity that the remastered soundtrack does. Unfortunately, the new soundtrack does come with the loss of many people’s favourite tracks by Incubus, and Breaking Benjamin. Instead ones created by Misha Mansoor have replaced these tracks. While the Misha tracks are certainly fantastic, some people may find that the game losses a certain element they remembered fondly in the respective missions that featured these bands.

In addition to the fantastic remastering, you’ll also find that there’s a bunch of bonus content that’s been stuck into Halo 2 Anniversary. Be it the devastatingly awesome Scarab skull, the informative terminals, or the hunt for all of the plushies, Halo 2 Anniversary offers a good chunk of additional content on top of what was an already fantastic, and content packed title.

All in all the campaign experience for Halo 2 Anniversary is an exceptionally well done package. If you want to play it like you did 10 years ago, you can do that. If you want to play it with it looking and sounding like an Xbox One game? You can do that too. I would say 343 Industries could have released it alone, and it would have been a fantastic buy for anyone. Instead as we all know, they chose to give us so much more.

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Halo CE, Halo 3, and Halo 4; what a crazy amount of value to package in with Halo 2 Anniversary. I think many people would have found it acceptable to simply get all of these games in their regular forms, but instead we’ve received visually updated versions of each. These visual updates are not in the same vein as Halo 2 Anniversary, they focus on bumping each game up to 1080p60fps, and lighting improvements. These changes work wonders on the games. I would personally say that Halo CE benefits the least from these changes, it’s gun play only sees minor improvements from the increased fluidity, it’s just a bit too old to significantly benefit. Halo 4 benefits significantly. It looks almost Next Gen, but that’s probably the lesser of the two things I was impressed by. Halo 4 undoubtedly benefits from the upgrade to 60fps. It feels fluid. It looks fluid. It’s ridiculous how much it impacts the game. Halo 3 also significantly benefits from the 60fps. It both looks and feels far more fluid than it originally did, and may possibly be that game the benefitted most from it. I will forewarn you that 60 frames per second may seem a little jarring at first, but once you get used to it there’s no going back.

Multiplayer, it’s a key tenant of Halo. It brings as much to the plate as the campaigns do.  Halo: The Master Chief Collection features everything from Halo CE, 2, 3, and 4, while adding a new mode, Halo 2 Anniversary. This means that the game is launching with over 100 multiplayer maps across 5 games. If you love Halo multiplayer, this is the game to purchase.

You’ll find that many of the same benefits I mentioned in single player carry over into multiplayer. Fluidity is better than ever across all of the titles, and it leads to a better experience no matter which game you’re playing. All of these multiplayers include nearly all the same glitches that you found in their original titles. So if you have fond memories about messing around from the past, you can recreate them here.

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Now despite the inclusion of 4 wonderful multiplayer games, one game stands out the most, Halo 2 Anniversary. Like the single player Halo 2 Anniversary is the golden child of the collection. It’s been designed from the ground up to replicate the Halo 2 Classic experience, with a modern twist. You’ll find improvements such as better gun control, graphics, sounds, and even level design changes. All of these improvements work towards making Halo 2 Anniversary a fantastic successor to Halo 2 Classic.

Graphics are sharper than Halo 2 Anniversary Single player. The game was built from the ground up on a heavily modified Halo 4 engine. I imagine that these graphics were unobtainable in single player due to a number of things, but it would have been nice to see parity between the two. Sounds are identical, which is a good thing. Beefier sounding weapons are a net benefit to anyone playing the game.

The game features six of the best multiplayer maps from Halo 2: Bloodline (Coagulation), Lockdown (Lockout), Shrine (Sancturary), Stonetown (Zanzibar), Warlord (Warlock), and Zenith (Acension). These maps all play wonderfully and have small map changes that improve gameplay, as well as interactive environments. As an example, Lockdown features stalagmites that you can shoot off of the ceiling to kill people in sniper perches, and has a breakable glass middle. These changes lead to more interesting gameplay during more casual matches, and can be disabled in forge (or via the Lockout anniversary gametype) to return the maps to a more competitive nature. Between all of the maps, you’ll find that the changes are generally well thought out and make for a reasonable improvement in gameplay.

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Halo 2 Anniversary also features not one, but three versions of forge, Halo 3, 4 and 2 Anniversary. While the inclusion of 3 and 4 are welcome the real star of the show is once again Halo 2 Anniversary, which features the most powerful and versatile version of forge to date. It features not one, but three different blank slates for editing purposes and allows up to 650 items per map. In addition to that this version of forge includes a scripting language that can be used to control the map. While I haven’t gotten a chance to experience anything neat, I am excited for the future of forge. I believe that these changes in Halo 2 Anniversary forge mode will cause the community to generate maps that may be up to the same level of quality as the included six. It’s something to look forward to down the line.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is potentially the most content filled game of the year, and if you have an Xbox One and enjoy Halo, you should pick it up. 343 Industries should be proud of the message they’re sending with Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Halo is back and it’s setting the bar for what a re-release of a game should be.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection releases tomorrow, Tuesday, November 11th.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_raw_html]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[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Pros

– Includes a ridiculous amount of content.

– 1080p60fps feels and looks amazing.

– Halo 2 Anniversary is remastered well.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Cons

– Some bugs

– Minor FPS Lag at times[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_progress_bar values=”95|Story,90|Gameplay,90|Graphics,100|Entertainment” bgcolor=”custom” units=”%” custombgcolor=”#51db1a” el_class=”square-corners”][/vc_column][/vc_row]