Finish the Fight, again (and again)
My first Halo: Combat Evolved game was with a friend of mine, he brought his Xbox around to my house and we played co-op. I have to say, it did change my gaming life. It was an experience unlike anything I'd ever tried before and it was pretty mind-blowing to be honest. Then there was the adversarial multiplayer rife with hilarious Spartan deaths and chaos, not to mention Warthog jumping on Silent Cartographer in co-op.
I fell in love.
I picked up a copy of the game and an Xbox the same week and had my own crazy shenanigans.
That was years ago, and now I'm grinning like a lunatic again because I still get the same feeling from hearing the Halo music main theme kick in. I still feel the same sensation of joy that I got from playing the original Combat Evolved way back. This is Halo reborn for the new-generation Microsoft console, and whilst the console itself did get off to a shockingly bad start, it's been improved with constant solid updates into quite a machine now.
Halo is back with the Master Chief Collection and you get Halo Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4 in the one package, on the one disc packed with extra features, access to the Halo 5 mp beta, Nightfall (the live action TV show) and even more. The UI is a little bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it you'll be able to jump around and play any of the games in any order, even setting up playlists and enjoying a nicely customised Halo experience, this includes a wealth of control options for making your play as tuned to your control style as possible.
Everything is here, all the modes, the maps, and the bells-whistles from each iteration of Halo. With the added bonus of Xbox Live play across all the games and all in lovely hi-def graphics. Even Halo 3 benefits from the additional graphical power and Halo 4 (which looked fantastic on 360) shines in this collection.
Sadly, there's a fly in the ointment as of the writing of this review - the matchmaking is quite buggered and getting a good match (even with friends) is plagued with issues from time to time. 343 have made a statement over on Halo Waypoint (here) about this, their plans for updates and a bit more - so rest assured it's still being looked at and worked upon.
The Chief of Chiefs
Halo: Combat Evolved - The remastered Halo Anniversary was good on the 360, it's even better on the Xbox One with improved graphics and remastered sound effects. You can switch between the two at the touch of a button and play the Old-Halo/New-Halo shooting game. Shoot a grunt in Old-Halo and switch to New-Halo, see the differences in the textures and the environments - it's quite something else.
All the multiplayer components are here for Halo CE as well, so there's nothing skimped upon. It's the fresh sense of life delivered by the boosted graphical upgrade and tweaking that makes it a true pleasure to tread the old ground in those well-worn John 117 Spartan boots.
There's definitely a frame-rate improvement as well, and it plays silky-smooth.
Halo 2 Anniversary - I'd have to say that this is the pure icing on the cake, because not only has Halo 2 been given the complete new-gen graphical/sound/blah-blah makeover this time around resulting in a really smooth buttery-good Halo experience, it's been given new CGI cut-scenes that are gorgeous and showcase just how good the studio behind them really is.
Blur Studios has outdone itself with the CG for these videos and I was left wondering what complete remakes on the Halo 4 engine would have looked like, of Halo, Halo 2 and 3. I don't mind that though, because Halo 2 remains just as badass and fun to play as it ever was in single player (and I managed to get a single game of Halo 2 multiplayer in thanks to some friends) and multiplayer.
Again the game plays nigh-on flawlessly and the frame rate is rock solid, it benefits from a better visual upgrade than Halo Anniversary and again it has remastered new ambient sound, effects and more lurking under the hood. Fantastic stuff.
Switching back and forth between classic and new-gen look provides a great sense of 343's achievement here, with a heck of a lot of detail - that's not just texture based, in some cases whole areas have been packed with extra little details like billboards and signs.
Halo 3 - There's no remaster of this one in the previous sense of the word, you do get boosted graphics, cleaned up sound and some other little touches here and there but that's it. No switch-over and nothing else. It doesn't really need it either, because Halo 3 is a great game stand-alone without extra bells and whistles. Moving on!
Halo 4 - 343's own take on Halo was one of my favourite games on the 360 and honestly it looked nice on there, now it looks even nicer on the Xbox One taking advantage of 1080p and a smoother frame-rate with extra oomph. There have been a few tweaks to the way the game plays and it contains everything that was on the 360 version of Halo 4, including the tweaked Forge map designer.
A whole lot of Halo for the money
You get a whackload of Halo for the money from this one, and for Halo fans it's a true reflection of a much-beloved franchise character, John 117. This is his journey, which is why you won't see Halo ODST, Reach, Wars or any other spin-off Halo game on the disc or part of this collection.
It's Master Chief, Sgt. Johnson and Cortana all the way and I couldn't be happier.
Well I could, I could be playing multiplayer a lot more with people and until matchmaking is fixed we're sticking with the score we gave it. We may revise the score at a later date once 343 has time to fix this vital component, but at the moment I can't in all good conscience give it much higher than the 8 it's been given already.
There's a lot of value on the disc though, with the extras and features, new videos and connection to the Halo Channel where you can see all the new terminal vids from the previous Halo games providing a much deeper insight and connection to Guilty Spark and the Monitors.
If you're a Halo fan, get it.
If you're looking to start the Fight, and become a Halo fan, get it.
Bottom line: get it, 343 will fix the issues and things will be hunky-dory again.