Friday, 3 July 2015

The master collection of haloed chief

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Platform tested: Xbox One

It should have been a fairly no-brainer to get the Halo: The Master Chief Collection right, I mean Naughty Dog did it with it's The Last Of Us Remastered. However 343 Industries kind of messed up the launch of HaloMCC badly. Firstly, it launches with a 20GB patch. Apparently all the multiplayer stuff isn't on the disc after all and must be downloaded as a patch. Thanks for that tiny, huge-ass, patch! Then the multiplayer turns out to not simply work. On top of this the achievements for the singleplayer games unlock at their own will and remain locked for things the player actually has achieved.

The messy situation continued for fair length after release too, with newer patches not fixing the multiplayer for a lot of players. A huge mistake, as the multiplayer is loved by a lot of people, and as such has given HaloMCC a fairly bad reputation. Luckily 343 and Microsoft put a lot of effort into fixing the bugs, something they really had to considering the popular demand of the strong Halo multiplayer community. To be fair 343 had a difficult task of getting four different games running on new hardware.

For me the multiplayer didn't matter as much and so the bugs didn't affect me, apart for the glitchy achievements, as I'd set my sights on replaying all the singleplayer parts of Halo. These kind of bugs annoy me, luckily all of the achievements were unlocked after a later patch and solvd my problems nicely.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

The patching and bug controversy aside though, is HaloMCC any good? Thankfully it's more than good. Great actually. You get Halo: Combat Evolved & Halo 2 with remastered anniversary graphics (which you can swap on the fly to the orginal grpahics by a press of a button), Halo 3 and Halo 4 all running at 60fps in 1080p (H2 apparently runs at a slightly lower resolution for some odd reason). It's clear to see that these games, with their fast paced, crowded battlefields really needed to run at 60fps all along. The collection evolves around Halo games that feature Master Chief, the main protagonist in the series, so Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach are not included on the disc. It's all about the main  Halo series in this package.

The fantastic graphical resolution and framerate boost make all the games look amazing, and especially Halo 4 looks like it could have been from this generation of consoles! It's a bliss playing them upgraded, and even though I have played them all before, I loved every minute of it. Halo 2 was the one that stuck out the most, as I have not played it since it originally released on the first Xbox back in 2004. They have done a considerable job in remastering it. Halo 1, if you recall, already was remastered on the Xbox 360 (but running at a sub 720p at 30fps) and looks sharp and pretty.

Halo 2 Anniversary

Halo 2 Anniversary

All the Halo games are fairly different experiences, yeah I know they are all fire-from-the-hip old school type of shooters, but they are fairly different in their approach within the genre:

  • Halo: Combat Evolved  is for instance a more slow moving game, with a great sense of feeling alone and rather small in it's dramatic and large landscapes. It has a more dark style to it as you unravel something shocking as you progress into the game. You could accuse the first Halo of dragging out it's lifespan by making the player backtrack a lot of the areas towards the end, but me being older now and more patient than when I played it back in 2001, I actually enjoyed these parts better now. It gives a sense of the scale of the Halo ring planet you discover and it actually makes you feel the struggle of fighting your way back rather than ending it abruptly with a cutscene.
  • Halo 2 is the opposite of the first game's rather conservative and slow changing settings. Every location is distinctly different; layout, colours and type of environments are really mixed up nicely in H2. Though there's a more abrupt change from level to level, H1 felt more like one big part. The dangers of the Covenant are more apparent too, with fighting and attacks towards earth taking place. The sheer variation is impressive for a fairly old game like this and it's further shown when you take part as a Covenant and play from their perspective. The remastered graphics are really great too and breath new life into the game. At times the anniversary graphics look better than Halo 3.
  • Halo 3 takes the formula from both 1 and 2 and mixes it in a smart way. It retains the variation of settings from Halo 2, but kind of connects each level with each other. Once again it feels like one long journey just like the first game. Halo 3 really turns up the amount of enemies and vehicles from H2 thanks to the game being on the new Xbox 360 platform back then. The fighting often takes place on rather large areas, giving me almost a feeling of playing an online session of the Battlefield games. Halo 3 is probably my favourite in the series, varying from bright locations to dark ones, from huge open battleields to corridor shooting. Mainly Halo 3 feels very open and it takes great use of vehicles at your disposal. I really appreciate them taking down the graphical detail a notch for having more enemies, bigger areas and more clever AI than other games from it's generation.
  • Halo 4 is a testament to how far you could push the Xbox 360 graphically, it looks incredible still. At times it almost gives me a Metroid Prime feeling with it's varied planets, helmet visor HUD and alien landscapes. The scale of the battleifeilds are taken down slightly from Halo 3 though, it may still have some fairly big battles, but it's more tied down to smaller areas and corridors. I'm guessing the graphical lift went at a cost back on the old hardware. Halo 4 is very different than Halo 3, but I really think it's for the good. In fact, I enjoyed that Halo 4 didn't just take the Halo 3 formula and copy everything, it makes playing them after each other two distinctly different experiences.

    My original Halo 4 review for the Xbox 360 can be found here.
  • Halo 3: ODST (DLC) is a spin-off of Halo 3 and takes part during the New Mombasa attack. You play as a Orbital Drop Shock Trooper that, you guessed it, gets dropped over the city to fight the Covenant. I really like the difference this game has in style and approach to the original Halo 3. It has a much darker and melancholic theme, with a fitting soundtrack accompanying it's loneliness and atmosphere.The ODST soldier you play has to investigate the city at night and find his other troop members by investigating clues at crash sites. Doing so gives you a flashback to what happened and thus gives  the game a varied new mission level, spanning different environments and settings. ODST should be recognised for it's different approach to a Halo game and showing other struggles than Master Chief's story.

    My original Halo 3: ODST review for the Xbox 360 can be found here.

There you have my opinions of the four Halo games, included to this superb collection was a unique opportunity to try out the multiplayer beta of Halo 5. Which I did just after the new year began. It's nice to see it focuses on the 60fps framerate, which seems to have become a industry standard for online shooters on consoles after Call of Duty's huge success in the last generation. I have a positive feeling that 343 are really going to deliver something special with Halo 5 and after the glimpses we witnessed at E3 this year I doubt we'll be disapointed!

Halo 3
Halo 3
Halo 4
Halo 4

If you have never played the Halo games, perhaps the Xbox One is your first Xbox console? Then I warmly recommended picking this package up, with most the multiplayer bugs fixed and the fantastic value for money with four incredible shooters in one game; you really are in for a treat. The framerate boost and resolution bump give an even higher enjoyment of some of the most memorable first person shooters made.

The Halo gameplay feels more like an older type of shooter, relying a lot on your movement and dodging skills, while firing from your hip, rather than iron-sights aiming like most of the newer shooters. This type of gameplay really holds up well and, in my experience at least, never becomes boring. It's about movement skill more than pin point aiming accuracy. You'll be coming back to play ever so often. I can't stress enough that the gameplay really feels even more precise, smooth and overhauled with the framerate boost.

A legacy of games with hours and hours of entertainment, plus Halo 3: ODST is out now as a cheap DLC download for the collection too, get it and prepare for Halo 5 later this year! Play these games coop online with a friend if you have the chance and get even more enjoyment out of them too! Some of the best coop games made.



    + Plus points

    • Four amazing Halo games all shined up for your Xbox One. Great value for money!
    • 60fps goodness all the way.
    • Gameplay holds up well, so many years later.

    - Minus points

    • Buggy launch, especially regarding the multiplayer.
    • Local splitscreen has black bars and framedrops, they seem unoptimized.
    • All content should have been on the disc.

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