Definitive, complete, the total package; if you own an Xbox One there are a lot of great games out there, but up to this point only one can truly claim those descriptors. Halo: The Master Chief Collection compiles every numbered Halo game from Halo: Combat Evolved right up to Halo 4 with not only its single player campaign but all of the multiplayer content as well. When you do the math that adds up to an astounding 106 maps to kill with friends and over 40 hours of story and campaign content.
A brand new and unproven IP, Microsoft put a lot of faith in Spartan 117 when they launched Halo: Combat Evolved with the original Xbox console in 2001. I’m not sure if they knew how important it was at the time but it turned the FPS genre on console on its head. When Bungie refined the experience even further with Halo 2, they created what was to be the model for multiplayer shooters for years to come. Adding map editing features in Halo 3 and even more abilities for Master Chief in Halo 4 it’s clear that the Halo franchise is a pivotal one in the first person shooter arena that has constantly evolved (see what I did there?) with its audience.
Trying to pick this apart for a review is essentially an exercise in futility. When you take four of the highest rated games in history and package them along with all their extra content and a host of new ones it’s inevitable that people will say it’s amazing. Factor in the $60 price tag and there’s no denying that Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a must own. If you had to pick one part of the compilation to focus on here it is most definitely the anniversary treatment of Halo 2 and that’s what I’ll really focus on here. If you want to read a 4000 word review that dissects everything I can do that but in the end you’ll come away with a simple conclusion; OMG AWESOME!
Touching on Halo: CE, Halo 3 and Halo 4, it’s amazing to be able to see the progression from one iteration to the next. Sure Halo: CE shows its age, even with its anniversary treatment from the 360 era, but it really helps you to appreciate how far the series has come. Both Halo 3 and 4 look amazing on the Xbox One and while they don’t receive the same overhaul as Halo 2 they do receive some minor lighting and texture upgrades that take advantage of the new hardware.
The crown jewel in the MCC is hands down the Halo 2: Anniversary Edition. It’s been ten years since its initial release and it has never looked better. The cutscene cinematics have been painstakingly remade by Blur Studio and as cliché as it sounds they are jaw dropping. The levels themselves can be played in their original format or the remastered format which is certainly where you’ll end up. The ability to switch between old and new on the fly, much like you could with Halo: CE Anniversary, really drives home how much work 343 Industries put into this release.
Of course you can’t have a Halo collection without a serious multiplayer component and this is where MCC shines even further. 106 maps is nothing to sneeze at and they’re all given to you in their original format running on their original engines. While this brings up some legacy issues with the older releases it’s also a really fun reminder of the nights spent super bouncing on maps in Halo 2. Of course, alongside the anniversary treatment for Halo 2, the team at 343 has revamped six of the multiplayer maps for you to enjoy. Admittedly I never even touched half of the maps but that’s no surprise when you consider the hours upon hours it would take to fully play through everything in this collection. Regardless, once matchmaking was ironed out I really was able to jump in and capture the magic that first ensnared me way back in 2001 on Halo: Combat Evolved. The experience was even further refined when Halo 2 debuted on the Xbox Live platform and all the memories of how much fun I had in my early twenties came flooding back the instant I started playing. The first time I BXR’d an opponent I let out a squeal of delight something akin to that of a young schoolgirl.
The depths to which HTMCC goes behind the scenes is nothing if not expansive. From custom games to the Forge and Theater to the leaderboards and customization options it’s mind boggling how much you can do and track. In fact at first glance it can all be a bit confusing so be prepared to spend some time familiarizing yourself with the menus and options. One option which I found exceedingly helpful was the ability to set my controls to the same settings across all games. Considering that back in the days of the OG Xbox the ‘Duke’ controller had no right or left bumpers so controls were much different than they are today. By being able to adjust to more current standards I found it much easier to play. Taking everything one step further the extras included in the HTMCC including documentaries, the Halo: Night fall series, access to the Halo 5 Guardians beta there’s no denying a huge bang for your buck (I am just chock full of clichés right now it seems).
I’m honestly not sure what I can say that will truly influence anyone as to just how good Halo: The Master Chief Collection is. If you’ve ever played Halo you’ll already know that a compilation of this magnitude is nothing short of epic. Not many games can be described as a true ‘must own’ without that exclamation being full of pomp and circumstance but this is one time where the statement genuinely rings true. If you own an Xbox One you MUST OWN Halo: The Master Chief Collection.