With The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One, Microsoft and 343 Industries have remastered the first four games in the Halo series, breathing new life into the most iconic Xbox franchise ever released. Indeed, Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a long-awaited gift that nobody was actually expecting to receive.
The developers bring back four games from our past, some more distant than others, in this spectacular re-release. Several additions to the four core parts of the Halo series make this game an absolute steal.
The Master Chief Collection features Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 in their original and newly remastered forms. It comes with the full campaign and multiplayer for all four games. This is especially exciting for Halo: CE because the original game did not feature online multiplayer (you could play with up to 16 players using system link).
With that said, I will break down each of the four Halo re-makes individually:
Halo: Combat Evolved
I got chills when the campaign started. Remastered by the developers, the opening cut scene is (like the rest of the game) in 1080p and 60 fps. The false memory that I had of Halo looking great came true. As soon as Master Chief popped out of the cryo-chamber, I once again gained control of the baddest man in space. As a default, it is set to display the remastered version of the game, which looks like a slightly tweaked version of the 10th anniversary re-boot of Halo: CE that came out in 2011. With a touch of a button, you can switch from the remastered version to the original game’s graphics and audio.
The new-and-improved graphics make the game look like a high-end Xbox 360 game. Movements are much smoother as you rotate Master Chief and fire your weapon. Just as you become engulfed in the impressive remastered look of every small detail in the landscape and AI’s in the game, you can switch to the original graphics to remind yourself just how far the game has come.
However, there are still some areas for improvement. Despite being remastered, a lot of the flaws of the original game remain. When attempting to shoot through small spaces, you will usually find yourself shooting the wall next to you even if your reticle says you are sniping that elite across the map.
I wish the developers had fixed the HUD. Like the original, it is often hard to tell when you are walking over a weapon that you might want to pick up – you almost have to consciously look at the top-right of the screen to see the dim-blue letters.
Halo 2 is far and beyond the best part of The Master Chief Collection. The new graphics and audio add so much dynamic to the game that I missed so dearly.
Added audio enhances the presence of Master Chief. You really feel Chief’s footsteps with any reasonable sound system while the arsenal of UNSC weapons sound full and heavy with every pull of the trigger. On the flip side, some of the Covenant weapons (particularly the plasma pistol) sound cheesy as the shots zing by. I don’t mind it too much – it makes it easy to pick a side. If the audio needed to redeem itself (and it really didn’t), when Chief says the famous, “Sir, finishing this fight,” everything is right in the world.
As if the flood needed to be scarier, the reinforced graphics make every dark, flood-filled mission even more chilling. While enhanced graphics make nearly every visual aspect of the game more beautiful, the flood looks extra horrifying with added detail – take my word for it, don’t get too close.
Of all the games, I wasn’t as thrilled with Halo 3. Don’t get me wrong, the game itself is incredible and has arguably the best campaign of the series. It also resolves the nasty cliffhanger left by Halo 2.
It is only disappointing because the developers did not polish it like they did for Halo: CE and Halo 2. The developers boosted the graphics (like the other games) to 1080p and 60 fps. This adds an element of smoothness to the game, but it wasn’t a huge remastered change like the first two, which almost look better now.
Still, the improved frame-rate and audio add good zest to an already great game. Since 2007, when Halo 3 came out, there haven’t been very many endings that stack up to its gripping finish. When the Halo blows up and you find yourself on the wrong side of the ship, Chief enters cryo-sleep once more until Cortana needs him again. The satisfaction of this campaign alone is worth the price.
Playing Halo 4 on my Xbox One makes me feel like 343 knew what the plan was all along. While not the usual Halo flavor, it already looked great on Xbox 360. Now, with improved video and audio it fits in with the games for Xbox One seamlessly.
Cortana needs Chief again as he finds himself in Requiem. Master Chief has to battle both Forerunners and Cortana’s looming insanity in this continuation of the series.
The visuals in Halo 4 are what put it above Halo 3 in The Master Chief Collection. I was expecting a remastered Halo 3, but the slight improvement left it just a smoother version of the original edition in 2007. I didn’t expect any change in Halo 4 as it just came out in 2012, but the improvements were a pleasant and impressive surprise.
Multiplayer and Custom Games
Right now, online multiplayer is extremely frustrating. The servers are constantly down and sticking with a party is nearly impossible. I have only gotten into a few games and they have a lot of issues because of the servers and connection.
This is just the excuse I needed to go back to my original Xbox days. Going back into the old Halo games on split screen brought back fond memories. It is still just as fun as it was 10 years ago to get four guys playing on one screen.
Now, it is an even better experience. The enhanced graphics are built for larger displays and better sound systems. You can actually see when you are in one of four sections on a screen now. In addition there are more options available for the older games. Before, newer controller layout options like “bump and jump” were not available on the older games. Now, the options for custom games flow freely from Halo: CE all the way to Halo 4.
Menu and New Options
Nothing about The Master Chief Collection gave me more chills than when the game first opened with the iconic menu music. If you have a preference of soundtrack (I like Halo 2), you can switch between which soundtrack you want playing on the menu.
One new option that stands out to me is the ability to make a playlist of campaign missions. This essentially gives you the power to make your own story. You can skip to all the good parts of the series, make alternate timelines (if you thought about it enough), or even skip all of the Arbiter missions in Halo 2. The possibilities are endless – especially since you can jump from game to game with playlists.