The return of the king.
Just about everyone knows what Halo is; they recognize Master Chief, and who hasn’t hummed the iconic theme at least once? Well, the series is finally making its (proper) debut on Xbox One in a big way. The Master Chief Collection spans the four numbered entries in the franchise, complete with an overhauled version of Halo 2, and the third and fourth games featuring higher resolution and better lighting effects. All four games, complete with their infamous multiplayer, in one neat package. It is hard to argue that value, but the question remains – does Master Chief still have what it takes?
While collections of past games are certainly not a new trend, what 343 has done with this particular collection is unparalleled. Let’s start with just the four core campaigns. Each one is a hefty lesson in the history of console FPS games. The evolution of the series is amazing to watch, and now I had the opportunity to experience it in succession, or in any order I chose. For example, I started off playing the final mission in Halo 2, just because of how nuts it was. Then I jumped directly into Halo 3 for a swift wake-up call of how much had changed between the games.
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
Multiplayer: Co-op, competitive
Having access to all four games, and all unlocked to play at my discretion, is fantastic. There are also plenty of skulls to add for challenge or cosmetic fun, on top of a series of playlists for each of the four games that focus on specific moments.
343 could have simply dumped all four games on a disc and called it a day, but they went beyond that. As I mentioned, all four games run at 1080p and 60fps, which dynamically changes the way Halo plays. It is jarring at first, but once I adjusted, the experience was all the more better for it.
Halo CE is the Anniversary Edition, while Halo 3 and 4 are simply higher resolution versions with some improved lighting and other graphical enhancements. I had forgotten how good Halo 4 actually looked on Xbox 360, and with the new resolution and lighting it almost looks next-gen.
The biggest change though is of course the newly remastered Halo 2, which has received a complete overhaul of its visuals and cut scenes, which are in fact amazing. Credit the team at Blur who were brought in to recreate the moments of Master Chief’s second outing; they are simply jaw-dropping. I mean on the levels of classic Square CGI that developers used to strive for visually. It adds a whole new level to the narrative in Halo 2.
The game itself also got a fresh coat of paint for the campaign, and in Anniversary fashion, I could switch between the original and new visuals on-the-fly. Probably the most important thing for me though was the multiplayer. Halo 2 is my most cherished memory when it comes to online gaming. It is the experience that I shared with so many of my adult friends now. It is where I cut my teeth on Xbox Live, and my memories of playing this game online are unforgettable.
This is where this collection goes above and beyond. Every single game has its own multiplayer, complete with all the maps, physics, and unbalanced weapons it shipped with. It is designed to recreate those moment-to-moment experiences the series has provided over the years. And it works.
There are over 100 maps to play on, tons of playlists, and enough customization to make my head spin. It was like opening a smorgasbord of fun once I booted up the multiplayer portion of this collection. Forge is present, Spartan Ops is coming very soon, and every map has been preserved into one place. Halo 2 has even had six of its maps redesigned with the new visual makeover.
Each game can be played separately, or in combined playlists. The amount of options and modes are staggering. I could play this game for years and still not see it all, or at least that is how it feels. Also for Achievement hunters, there will be 4500 points obtainable in this game. Yes, that is over four thousand Achievement points to earn, and trust me, they will take some time.
I could ramble on forever about this series and its games, but this collection speaks for itself. This is easily the best value I have ever seen. The sheer amount of content included for $60 is staggering. For me, being able to finally play Halo 2 multiplayer again was worth the price of admission, but toss in 100 maps, Forge, Spartan Ops (coming) and four of the best FPS campaigns in history and it is impossible not to recommend this. If you own an Xbox One this game is a must own. If not, it might be time to buy one.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.