Microsoft released the all inclusive Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One to mark Halo 2’s 10th Anniversary which features Halo Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 alongside a host of other extras. The biggest question is, having played these games to death when the released, is it worth jumping in all over again when essentially they are the same games as you remember them. Take a look at our Halo: The Master Chief Collection review for the full picture.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review:
Today we’re taking a look at Microsoft’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection which comes exclusively to the Xbox One and appears to be everything a Halo fan could wish for aside from the absence of Halo Reach, and Halo ODST which is a shame but understandable considering this package relives the exploits of the autonomous Master Chief character across the four campaigns.
Without beating around the bush each of the four campaigns are exactly how you remember them with no additions aside from a remastered soundtrack as an option and updated graphics. For Halo Combat Evolved, the offering is much the same as Halo Anniversary which released on Xbox 360 and featured the improved visuals and 3D support. 3D isn’t offered here but instead – and with all the games in this collection – is presented in a solid 60 frames per second which makes the gameplay silky smooth. Halo 2 sees a massive upgrade in visuals and as with Halo Combat Evolved, at a touch of a button during gameplay, players can flip between the old and new texture details. That said, this does cause some problems because the textures don’t match exactly so in some instances a shot might looking like it connects in the updated visuals, but when flipping back you’ll notice a possible obstruction preventing the shot. It’s a minor issue but very much there for those creeping round objects.
Halo 3 and 4 see a slight improvement in texture detail and brightness but given the age of these games there’s no massive overhaul like we see in the previous two games. So essentially, these are very much revised versions of the Xbox 360 game ported over. In some ways, it’s Halo and Halo 2 that are the stars here.
Cleverly, the package ties everything together for the lone player and allows jumping from one mission in Halo 2 for example and then another in Halo 4 if desired. There’s an overall tracker of your progress and various options to see your scoring against friends and world leaders. To spice things up, players can add skull modifications to their games and what’s perhaps the biggest change is the option to play all the campaigns in co-op. The game also offers a number of playlists which span individual campaigns or are spread over all four. These are simply missions grouped together played back to back and could have been far more imaginative in terms of taking sections from the games and presenting those rather than being the entire mission. Either way, for the soloist, there’s lots to complete and strive for and with unlockable items for your Halo ID means it’s worth playing through if you’re wanting to show off your dominance of the package.
For those wishing to reach out to the further playing field then there’s a slew of multiplayer options and too many maps to mention to play on as well as various playlists – although none specifically for Halo Combat Evolved which are reserved for custom games with friends or those getting lucky with the massive all inclusive playlists which span all four games. The theatre mode and forge are also included in the package and with the Xbox One’s ability to upload videos means players can share their greatest moments with ease. Some players will have fond memories of the Halo multiplayer and as with the campaigns it’s interesting to see its evolution as you move from the original game from Bungie up to 343 Industries Halo 4 release. Sadly there are newtwork issues abound here meaning for some it’s hard getting into games which is pretty poor considering the appeal of the multiplayer over the single player content. In time the issues will be fixed, but at present might be off-putting for some who solely want to game online. In this regard holding off might be a good idea.
In terms of looks, the remastered visuals of Halo and Halo 2 are a mixed bag, in many ways the improvement is of a high standard but then something is also lost where brightness is turned up and some of the atmosphere sucked out of the game. This is most notable in Halo where dark corridors pave the way for fully lit interiors resulting in some of the foreboding mystery being removed. Either way, the option to switch the graphics as and when desired is excellent, but does highlight these differences. The 60 frames per second performance is excellent as well making for smooth movement and transitions across all the games. That said, there are the occasional dips in frames but these are rare and no way impacting on the gameplay. The overall presentation is simply excellently crafted, with easy to navigate menus and quick options to jump in at leisure. The graphical differences become less apparent moving into Halo 3 and 4, but again these games have their moments although by today’s standards do look a little dated now considering these are ports from the Xbox 360 rather than complete re-workings.
The audio is fantastic throughout the game from menus to high octane action sequences although some might not agree with the remastered music which is a personal choice whether they are preferred over the Marty O’Donnell original engineered score. Interestingly these can be toggled in-game which is pretty neat.
It’s questionable how much time players are going to spend diving into the Halo games all over again as this is perhaps largely down to how nostalgic one is. In the case of Halo 4 for example, this game is only two years old and many will have rinsed out the campaign and its multiplayer back in 2012. However, as an aid to dip in and out at leisure, the game has enough content to last considerable hours and achievement hunters can go knock themselves out with the massive numbers to accumulate. For pure value it’s unrivalled, although there’s still an argument that lingers which says why buy the same games you already own all over again? It’s a valid stance and has to be reiterated that the core experiences remain identical to the original. For those moving away from last gen systems then the option to have the Halo games on the same system as the forthcoming Halo 5 is most welcome and with access to its beta included means there’s an additional enticement for purchasing this package. There are tons of other non game related extras such as access to the live action serious Halo Nightfall and the well implemented Halo channel which provides videos and much more extra content to queue up and view at leisure.
To conclude, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is an amazing package for gamers interesting in getting up to speed on Halo’s story ahead of Halo 5 next year and if you’re new to the series an essential purchase. Gamers who already rinsed out the original games on Xbox 360 might feel the lack of backwards compatibility on Xbox One has given rise to this game and should be reluctant to spend money on the same experiences again. However, those who want to have easy access to the series on Xbox One will welcome the complete package despite the absence of two of its big games ODST and Reach and non inclusion of extras such as firefight and standalone missions seen in Halo 4. The Master Chief Collection certainly presents itself well despite showing its age in its gameplay as you move from the early games onwards. The network issues are a huge blight on an otherwise well rounded package which is an annoyance but aside from this and in hope the problems will be fixed sooner rather than later, it’s a pleasant reminiscence of times past and reminder of the heritage behind the series which launched way back in 2001. This collection is great for newcomers, excellent for fans, but not an essential purchase for those sitting on the fence who already played and still own the original games.
Score 8.5/10 – Review by Robert Cram
Review code supplied by Team Xbox UK.