Editor Note: Midlife Gamer were given Halo: The Master Chief Collection to review by the publisher. The 20gb update that builds in the multiplayer section of the game was only released on the evening of 6th November 2014. This review will focus on everything but that and will be updated once we’ve had time to experience the multiplayer aspect.
I still remember getting Halo: Combat Evolved. I’d just finished at shift at Gadget Shop (remember them?) and may have had a bit of a session at the pub before aimlessly walking to HMV. The Xbox caught my eye so I just bought one; it came with Splinter Cell and Halo. It didn’t take long to find myself deep within the world of Halo and 13 years later I find myself jumping back in to experience it all again with Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection brings the Halo franchise together, you are able to playthrough Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary which was previously out on the Xbox 360, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4, pretty sweet. Not only are you able to play through all 45 campaign levels, but there are also over 100 maps to play multiplayer on too.
Anyone who has played Halo for any amount of time will know how brilliant the music is in the game. It’s the first thing that hits you when you start the game up and will no doubt bring back years of memories. The UI is fantastic, the whole collection is right there in front of you from the off, as you navigate between each game the music changes to the correct soundtrack for the game, it’s only a small thing but it set me up nicely before each campaign. The UI has a particularly difficult job to do, because there will be quite a bit to navigate (once the MP patch comes in) thankfully it manages the navigation very well. You can choose which title you want to play at the top level and drill down into each to play through the campaigns from the beginning or even choose specific missions.
One of the main features of the Master Chief Collection is the fact that from the off, everything is unlocked and available to use straight away. Every mission, all the skulls, emblems, armours and abilities, the chances are if you are a previous Halo player you will have unlocked most of this before, so it’s nice to think that 343 have thought about the fans. I suppose it would have been quite a good idea to give new players a chance to try to unlock them the traditional way but there is no option to do that.
When Halo 1 & 2 were released you probably played the game on that hand breaker of a controller, whereas 3 & 4 had the rather nifty 360 pad, not only that but the control schemes varied through the different games and now 343 have had to deal with a third controller, thankfully though this has all been taken into consideration, there are plenty of different option to customise our controls based on which game you are playing but there is also a “Universal” mode which means you don’t have to try and remember each scheme again. It’s definitely worth experimenting with the systems available to see what suits you best.
So what of the games? Halo Combat Evolved is essentially the same game, but has been slightly updated to run at 60fps and 1080p, as well as remastered audio. You have the option to switch back and forth between the original game and the up to date version, which is great for seeing how the game used to look. The game handles as well as any shooter I’ve played and it was nice to start the story again. If you have Halo Anniversary on the 360 the differences aren’t hugely significant.
Halo 2 Anniversary however is the centrepiece of this game; just like Combat Evolved the graphics have had an overhaul as well as the audio. But the biggest difference comes from the cut scenes. 343 Industries brought in Blur Studios to recreate all of the scenes within the game and frankly they are stunning. The detail is incredible, so much so that when I got back to play Halo 2 I felt a bit underwhelmed by the graphics on display, when in fact the game looks pretty good. I’d forgotten how tough the game was in places but I’ve quickly realised that now.
I was personally excited to play Halo 3 again, and much like Combat Evolved work has been done to bring the frame rate and resolution up. It felt like it has made more of a difference in Halo 3 for some reason certainly in the early levels as the light comes through the trees, the game plays as well as ever and brought back lots of good memories for me.
Halo 4 feels like the least work has been done on it, but that’s more because of the fact it was one of the later titles on the 360 and was the best looking game. Some work has been done much like to the other games. A further patch which is due in December will see Spartan Ops brought back to allow you to co-op through all 10 episodes, which will be as much fun as it was last time.
Every Halo fan will have their favourite levels, the final level of Halo 3 always was one of mine, but what 343 have done is create a set of playlists based on certain levels across the games, whether it be all of the vehicle based levels, or even the best levels for speedrunning through, hopefully in the future you will be able to make your own list, but there are enough playlists to keep you going as it is.
Ever since this game has been announced I had to have it, Halo got me hooked and still to this day when I hear the music the memories come “flooding” back, all of the games would hold up against most shooters these days and for about £45 you are getting a hell of content. Halo Nightfall, the series directed by Ridley Scott is also ready to be watched but isn’t available until the game launches.
Until I’ve had time to play the Multiplayer side of the game I won’t be giving the game a score, but I’ve had a brilliant time playing this and there is still plenty more to play.It’s great to have one of my favourite games series all in one package and the effort 343 have put into creating this really shines through.
MLG Rating: To Be Confirmed Format: Xbox One Release Date: 11/11/2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Halo Master Chief Collection by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a Xbox One. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.