Hands On: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
By Sean Booker
December 20, 2014 - 18:37
Studios: 343 Industries
Rating: T (Teen)
Platform: Xbox One
This is obviously a no brainer for any Halo fan; it has every core game involving Master Chief along with updated graphics/audio and cross game bonuses that easily make it a done deal. If you are a fan of this series, or even completely new to it, there is no better place to start than with this. The downside is the major amount of bugs and issues both online and offline that plague what should otherwise be an amazing product. Even with all that said, at the standard retail price this game is worth it and when you factor in how the developers are improving it every week then of course you should buy this.
At the forefront this is a collection of Halo Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4. Each of the main games are in here in their original form with the first two being updated to much more modern aesthetics. Though we saw this a couple years ago with Halo 1, the improvements on Halo 2 are even better. As before, you are able to press select (or whatever that button on the Xbox One controller is) in order to jump back and forth between the original and new art styles as well as hear the differences audio. This time around there isn’t a delay when switching, it happens immediately. The improvements are great; the cutscenes alone look incredible and really breathe new life into the game.
One of the coolest features is the inclusion of specific cross game playlists. These can range from playing through every Halo mission in a row to more obscure combinations such as only the best warthog stages or all the main sniper missions. Pulling from four different games allows for some really interesting and great playlists being formed. There are specific modes for people looking for the hardest challenges in Halo so you can really try your hand at the best the developers can string together. A major oversight is that you can’t make your own playlists. Being able to pick and choose your favorite levels from each game would have been really nice. The playlists options are cool to go through and play with but the mode lacks what would be a great feature.
Along with all the campaigns is the multiplayer from each game brought in. There is a huge selection of content to play here and it gets even deeper when you can choose which game physics to use. The gameplay from each game is preserved (as opposed to just revamping everything to the latest in Halo 4) and different game types will be presented based on which type of play you want. You can’t swap in different physics to a game not native to them but that makes sense since it would cause a lot of balance issues. Long time fans will appreciate the depth there is here.
The big caveat to all this is that The Master Chief Collection launched in a very broken state and is still buggy at the time of this writing. Finding games and matchmaking in general can take ages - if ever. I ran into issues where I couldn’t even party up in game with a friend whereas it worked fine with others the day before. Achievements errors can cause them to not unlock when they should. It is well documented the number of problems throughout the game when trying to play with an internet connection. This is a huge letdown considering cooperative and competitive play is such a major component to the Halo franchise. It’s good to see the developers issuing new patches at such a rapid rate but if you’re wanting a perfect experience you might want to hold off.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection has a lot of rough spots but they seem to be smoothing out as the weeks go by. The core gameplay is there and persevered nicely and the amount of content in this collection is amazing. If you ever had an interest in Halo then this is the game for you. Fans of old or anyone wanting to start can easily find enjoyment here. The bugs might make you want to hold off on a purchase but by the time everything is in a stable state the game will most likely be discounted anyway. Diving in now or later are both good ideas since you just get so much for your dollar here.
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