Have you ever had that one game that defined your childhood? One game that you always go back to with fond memories and a tingly feeling of nostalgia? The game that you can’t really defend the faults of, but you love it regardless? For me that game was Halo: Combat Evolved for the Xbox.
This was the first FPS that I played religiously. James Bond Nightfire got me into them, but Halo was the one that really got me hooked; I would go to my friends house after school and we’d run through the campaign endlessly. And by the time Halo 2 came out we had full blown LAN parties, yelling obscenities down the hall between rooms. So that brings us to the Master Chief collect; Halo finally gets the HD remake treatment, and even includes games that aren’t that old like Halo 4. The disk contains the four main games in the series; Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4. The other FPS games in the series; Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach are sadly absent due to lack of Master Chief-ness, though I may cover them on the site at some point. What is included is all four games, including both its campaigns and multiplayer game modes and maps, which even come with all the different armour types, weapon skins and abilities already unlocked because I’m not trying to get the Overkill achievement to get the katana on Halo 3 again!
This includes the forge map editing tool for Halo 3 and 4, and a new forge tool for Halo 2 Anniversary maps, as well as a theater mode for capturing and editing your favorite game clips or for recording your own machinima. The first and second games come as an anniversary version, with updated textures that can be turned on and off with the back button which can be very jarring, or annoying if you have an asshole team-mate. Online includes a variety of game modes across all games, though matchmaking feels oddly designed in regards to which games are included in which playlists; Halo 4 is not present in the Team Deathmatch playlists, but only in Big Team Slayer. It does streamline things, but I’d prefer more choice personally.
Gameplay across all games uses a shields over health system, which can suck up much more damage than your typical twitch shooter and makes for much more energized and fun gameplay. Weapons are typically divided between human bullet weapons which take out health faster and alien plasma weapons which burn through shields, as well as grenades which include blasting frag grenades, sticky plasma grenades which stick to enemies and vehicles, with Halo 3 and 4 including new types like fire bombs, wall sticking spike bombs and the radiating pulse bombs. Weapons include a large variety with different functions, strengths and weaknesses, though the real weapons to look out for are the power weapons that take players out in one hit like the shotgun, sword, sniper rife and rocket launcher, though this means that most games require you to know the locations of the best toys ahead of time.
There’s also vehicles to have fun with, like the turret mounted jeep which can lead to you and two of your buddies cruising around the map, or the nimble alien hovercraft if you want to cause some solo damage. But like with the power weapons, the real goal is getting your hands on the scorpion tank or the mantis mech walker if you want to play at Metal Gear.
At the end of the day you need to think about the Master Chief collection in these terms; you’re paying for the price of one game and getting 4 complete stories at around 8 to 10 hours each, and some of the most fun and enjoyable multiplayer shooters you’ll ever experience. If you’re not a fan of the series, then this won’t win you over, but if you’re looking for a new shooter or are a huge fan and want to relive some of these classic games, then this is a must buy. It’s worth noting though that the matchmaking is currently very unstable and it’s near impossible to get into a game. There is a patch coming, but in it’s present condition you’ll have to stick to story mode, but with nearly 40 hours worth of gameplay I don’t think you’ll notice until the patch comes out.
Rating: 8/10 (9/10 once matchmaking is fixed)
+ 4 entire campaigns
+ Gameplay is fast paced and energized
+ Maps and game modes are fully customizable
– Matchmaking nearly impossible at launch