Over 100 maps, 4 full games, Halo 5 Guardians beta, and the Halo Channel, this is the value you get when picking up the latest from 343 Industries, Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I have always loved the Halo franchise so when I was invited to the launch this past Saturday to experience a Halo LAN, I was over the moon. I strongly believe that the Halo franchise is one of the greatest first-person shooters in the gaming industry, its story is strong, its gameplay is immersive, and it’s really not trying to fit the mold of these cliché shooters with all the explosions and dazzle, but no content.
I was invited to the Halo launch organised by Xbox South Africa, and hosted once again by Internet Solutions. We were all provided with a copy of the game to review at our own pace. The first major issue that was pretty clear to us all was a mandatory update of 15 GB that needed to be downloaded. The game was playable once the updated reached 32%, but you cannot hide the fact that 15 GB is a gigantic update, and to make matters worse, once that was done the update installation took around 2 hours. Those with slow internet be ready for a long wait, and do not expect to boot this up and play this instantly.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
If you have never played a Halo game before, you play as the Master Chief in an intergalactic war against The Covenant. The Prophets who lead the Covenant also worship an ancient civilization known as the Forerunners, who were extinguished during the battle with the Flood. The story has the deepest lore out of any first-person space sci-fi shooters in gaming, and prepare to be dazzled by everything this collection has to offer.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection consists of all the titles that featured the Master Chief, meaning Halo: ODST, and Halo: Reach are excluded from this bundle. All the games have been polished to perfection but the main focus is Halo 2 Anniversary, which has the biggest visual overhaul out of the lot. The game has clearly been torn apart and put back together with great precision. New sounds, and the original soundtrack has been re-recorded. It also runs two engines at the same time allowing you to switch between the two on the fly.
Halo Anniversary runs at 1080p 60fps, it has also received some noticeable render improvements like lighting and the ability to switch between the original’s visuals and anniversary instantly. Both Halo 3 and Halo 4 also run at 1080p 60fps, but there is no visual upgrade to them other than the smoother frame rate. The games offer the same great experiences that you have come to love from the series; a deep story, great gun fights, and a beautiful world to explore, even though the games do look dated, it’s more about experiencing this amazing franchise for the first time, or revisiting it.
Halo 4 is probably the best looking out of the bunch, and it could stand alone as an Xbox One game, whereas Halo 3 is the complete opposite, looking pretty underwhelming. But regardless of visuals, the games are all there in all their glory, those who have never played any Halo title before will be pretty pleased at the package. There is also a new mode called Campaign Playlists that has a set number of levels from all 4 campaigns put together, you could go from playing all the final levels from each game, to every mission where you had to be more stealth orientated. This mode is fun and a nice way to extend the game after you play through every campaign, especially doing this co-op or split screen.
But enough about the visuals, Halo is the grandfather of multiplayer anyway, and with over 100 maps to challenge your friends in, you won’t need a new multiplayer game for a few months. During the launch we got to play competitive matches against each other on multiple maps, the good thing about this collection is the ability to choose different controller schemes, so if you have been playing other first person shooters and feel like Halo has the complete opposite controller scheme to what you are used to, then you can easily switch it to a new scheme, and there are tons to choose from.
The maps are what you know from the franchise so far, every game and every game’s DLC is present on disc, with more free DLC for Halo 4 coming later this year. Just like Halo 2 received special treatment in the campaign mode, the game has also received six anniversary maps that are gorgeous to look at, there might only be six of them but with over 100 maps in total, you really have no right to complain about the lack of content. Although it is a great collection of maps, I wish there was a universal way to access them, say you want to jump from Halo 4 multiplayer to Halo 3 multiplayer, you would need to exit the mode and go into the Halo 3 mode. It would be nice to have them all together and jump from game to game randomly, creating the ultimate multiplayer mode, given that there has never been a game to feature over 100 maps ever.
Prepare to get lost in the multiplayer as you have so many maps and so many modes to play through, it will take you a few weeks to explore them all, and by the time you have done this, revisiting the ones you played on first will feel like you have never touched them before. If you think 100 maps are plenty, there are thousands of unlockable player emblems, IDs, and 4000 Gamerscore to unlock in this game. It is crazy to think about how much content it on this one disc, and for how long you could be playing Halo. Once you have completed the download and installation, the game is yours to explore at your own pace, be ready to get lost in the Halo franchise one again.
Four campaigns, over one hundred multiplayer maps, thousands of unlockables, and achievements galore. Banish all other collections that have come before this, this is an ultimate collection done properly.
Lasting Appeal: 10/10