I’ve made a statement about developers remastering games before – about the more recent games to be exact. Games like Tomb Raider or The Last of Us really didn’t need remastered editions; as good as the games are there isn’t any significant difference between the two besides a small boost in fidelity. But where I think other remastered titles are lazy and mostly unwarranted, Halo: The Master Chief Collection destroys what is to be expected and is a prime example of remastered games done right.
500 years from now, humanity will make contact with a hostile alliance of alien species known as The Covenant. In their eyes humanity is an abhorrent, blasphemous presence that mocks their holy “Great Journey”, and so they wage an all-out war to annihilate all of human-kind. Luckily for us, a group of super soldier known as Spartans, fight alongside our marines to hold back the Covenant onslaught. But one after another, setback after setback, our worlds fall. As the Master Chief, the last surviving Spartan-II, you will fight back against the Covenant and stumble across an ancient ring-like world that houses a terrible threat.
Halo always had great gameplay with smart enemy A.I., but let’s go over all the new stuff that The Master Chief Collection adds. First is the user interface when you fire up the game; Ever Halo game, every level, and every multiplayer map can be accessed at any moment you want. Want to jump straight to Halo 3? Done. Want to play a specific level on Halo: CE Anniversary? Go ahead. Want to play all of the levels that contain warthogs in them? Santa read your wishlist! You can relive all of the Master Chief’s adventures, or experience it for the first time, in any which way you want and for folks like me, playing every Halo back-to-back is absolute joy.
Multiplayer is absolutely bananas. The Master Chief Collection has over 100 multiplayer maps; every multiplayer map from every numerical Halo title is here, including all the downloadable maps. For long-time fans, we can experience Halo: CE and Halo 2 multiplayer exactly as we remember them; all but six of the maps included are running their original engines and the other six have are select Halo 2 maps that have been remastered for Halo 2’s 10th year anniversary.
Instead of doing a ranking system where you gain rank by experience points, The Master Chief Collection uses the skill-based Halo 2 ranking system where the better you do the higher your rank is. But as of this review some game modes have been removed to help some players experiencing matchmaking problems. I’ve run across some issues, but the update did help improve matchmaking and I have been able to play several matches. Getting back into the arena-style multiplayer of Halo: CE and Halo 2 is a blast to play again. Maps like Battle Creek and Ascension is the standard at which I hold other multiplayer maps to – they are just that good. Plus, co-op can be local or online, so you can your friends can tackle Legendary difficulty while going through every mission if you’re crazy enough and have the time.
The biggest and most impressive change in this package is Halo 2’s completely revamped campaign. Where Halo: CE Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4’s campaign have been touched up to boast higher resolution, small tweaks, 60 frames per second, and new lighting effects, Halo 2 in its entirety has been reworked with a powerful new engine that makes the game seem like a whole new experience. Following Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori’s beautiful score, the re-vamped composition adds to the power that the score wields, making it more predominant than the remastered visuals at times. And instead of just settling on remaking the cinematics using the already great looking in-game engine, 343 brought onboard Blur Studio to recreate every cinematic, and they are simply the best looking cinematics I’ve ever seen in a game – it’s like watching a live action short, but all of it is animated in 3D.
Never before have we seen a collection like this. Four complete titles, dozens of playlists, over 100 multiplayer maps, smart and intuitive U.I. that links everything together, Forge mode for Halo 2, 3, and 4, the Halo: Nightfall live-action digital series, and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta in December – all of this in one disk. As monumental as the changes are, the core gameplay goes untouched, and that’s for the better; Halo’s gameplay is phenomenal as it stands and still hosts some of the most epic moments and threatening enemies in gaming.
With that being said, it suffers from some of the series’ past problems like inept companion AIs, and the current problems involving connectivity issues with online matchmaking. Ultimately, this is a must have title for any Xbox One owner. You will not find a better collection that is as filled to the brim with literally years worth of content than The Master Chief Collection and you can experience it however you want. Halo: The Master Chief Collection puts all other “remastered” or “definitive” editions to shame.
Overall Score: 4.75/5