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Relive the fight

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    Halo: The Master Chief Collection

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Relive the fight

    Halo: The Master Chief Collection takes the title character’s first four adventures and delivers them in one package. It includes the full campaigns for Halo 1 (including remastered visuals), Halo 2 (again, including the option for remastered visuals), Halo 3, and Halo 4, plus the original, intact multiplayer components of all those games as well. It’s the ultimate experience for Halo fans, but technical issues keep it from reaching its full potential.

    The Master Chief Collection is such a massive package, perhaps one of the largest games of its kind, if not the largest. So, let’s just jump right in with Halo: Combat Evolved first. The original Halo’s campaign does not hold up today, unfortunately, do to really poor level design and maze-like levels dominating every corner of it, but the story is interesting and the AI is extremely impressive. It’s still a good looking game, even with the retro graphics, and being able to switch between the old and new graphics at the press of a button is a nifty feature.

    Where Halo: Combat Evolved truly shines is with its multiplayer. The multiplayer is left completely intact from how it was on the original Xbox, allowing people to play the game on Xbox Live for the first time ever. The maps are all really well made and brimming with personality, catering to a number of different play styles. The pistols are extremely overpowered, but that just adds more fun and charm to the experience.

    Moving on, it’s time to talk about Halo 2. Halo 2 is one of the main selling points for The Master Chief Collection, as it features remastered graphics that, like Combat Evolved, can be added to the game at any time with the simple press of a button. Halo 2 also boasts gorgeous, brand new cut-scenes that are absolutely jaw-dropping and allow one to enjoy the Halo 2 story better than ever before.

    Halo 2 still holds up remarkably well today. The level design is significantly improved from Combat Evolved, and the multiplayer is fantastic as well, with some of the best maps in FPS history represented, and a more balanced game overall due to the nerfing of the pistol. The graphics have been improved, and the orchestral score is impressive as always. Honestly, they could’ve sold the remastered Halo 2 by itself and it still would’ve been worth the $60 asking price.

    Next is Halo 3. Halo 3 is more or less an untouched Xbox 360 port, meaning that the graphics haven’t been upgraded at all, which is a little disappointing as it’s the ugliest game in the collection. However, it’s also probably the best all-around game in the collection, with a really well made campaign (originally I didn’t like it, but playing it on Legendary makes all the difference) that supports four-player co-op and a ton of replayability, as the levels are all really fun to play, even the Flood level. The multiplayer in Halo 3 is top notch, with more classic maps, more vehicles, and simply more gameplay options than ever before.

    Halo 4 is the final piece to the puzzle. Halo 4 just came out a few years ago, but The Master Chief Collection ups its frame rate and resolution, making it the definitive way to enjoy Halo 4. Halo 4 remains one of the best-looking games ever made, even two years into the Xbox One’s life, and that holds true for the gameplay and cut-scenes. The campaign is a blast, the new enemies are a challenge, and there’s plenty of awesome new weapons. The multiplayer is amazing as well, which just rounds it out to being one of the most consistent of Master Chief’s adventures yet. Halo 4 also includes the co-op Spartan Ops mode, which, while not the best, is just icing on the cake.

    On top of all these re-releases, The Master Chief Collection also includes the expansion packs and DLC that were released for the games over the years. The amount of content in the game is staggering, meaning that there’s always something to do, and fully completing the game will take an extraordinary amount of time.

    Unfortunately, The Master Chief Collection is not without its fair share of problems. While the game works offline flawlessly (and many of the achievements can also be earned in offline multiplayer, which is greatly appreciated), the online has been plagued with technical issues since the game has launched. Numerous patches and updates since the game’s launch have helped alleviate many of the issues, but it still does not work perfectly.

    Back when it first released, for the first couple of weeks, players simply sat in a lobby that was constantly waiting for other players to join. Now it’s significantly easier to get into matches, but there’s still issues of people being booted, or games starting 4v1 or something like that. This is obviously not an ideal way to enjoy the Halo multiplayer experience, and the fact that these problems are still happening this long after the game’s launch is incredibly frustrating.

    To make up for these issues, 343 is releasing the campaign for Halo 3: ODST for those that owned The Maser Chief Collection during the peaks of its issues. ODST will probably be released as a paid expansion for others down the road, and while this is a nice gesture, ODST is still not yet available as of the time of this writing.

    Another flaw of The Master Chief Collection, in my opinion, is the lack of Firefight. Firefight is the co-op, Horde-like game mode that was introduced in ODST and also featured in Reach (which is not in the collection and there are currently no plans to add it to the collection, which would make it the last game needed to truly complete it). This is disappointing and keeps the collection from being as truly definitive as Microsoft wants it to be.

    One of the main selling points of the collection was the beta access to Halo 5: Guardians. That time has come and gone (it was also plagued by pretty bad matchmaking issues), and so now one of the main selling points of the game is no longer included. It would’ve been better to include a demo of Halo 5 as opposed to just a beta, but oh well.

    The Master Chief Collection, despite its disappointments and sometimes severe technical flaws, is one of the most bang for your buck games ever released. Just to recap, the game features full campaigns for Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4. On top of that, it includes remastered visuals for the first two games in the series, brand new cut-scenes for Halo 2, and all of the original multiplayer content intact, plus six recreated Halo 2 maps as well.

    This includes matchmaking for numerous game types, more being added with every update including my favorite game type SWAT, and the ability to play them all offline in split-screen. You can even take split-screen online, which greatly boosts the replayability even further. If that wasn’t enough, Xbox One only requires one account to have Gold now, so everyone can use their own accounts and not have to sign in as guests when playing The Master Chief Collection online.

    The Master Chief Collection also includes a number of other little things to boost replayability as well. This includes a live action TV show hyping Halo 5, the Forge mode where players can edit maps, and Theater mode, which saves recent games played so that the footage can then be edited. However, the big thing that hugely adds replayability are the game’s achievements.

    The Master Chief Collection, simply put, is the whale of achievements. Right now, the game has 5,000 gamerscore to collect, spread out across all four titles and cross-game. ODST, whenever it drops, will likely add even more GS to the game. This is absolutely massive, and the best part is, none of the achievements are ridiculous or require stupid actions to unlock. For the most part, they just require you to play the game, which is the best type of achievements for a game like this. Keep playing the multiplayer and the campaigns, and you will unlock an absurd amount of achievements along the way for doing so.

    Halo: The Master Chief Collection features four games that are all brilliant by themselves, but when brought together, there are technical issues that hold the title back massively. This is unfortunate, and while 343 are taking steps to make it up for fans and the online experience has greatly improved, it being this bad still to this day is ridiculous. Even so, The Master Chief Collection offers an absurd amount of content for Halo fans, and those looking to see what the fuss behind franchise is all about, there’s really no better place to start.

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