20 November, 2014

Review - Halo: The Master Chief Collection: You Have Lost Connection To The Host

Halo, the series that revolutionised the FPS genre on consoles has been remastered! All four games, although Halo 3 and 4 aren't that old, meaning that you can experience all that child like glee of bringing your Xbox to a friends house, sitting on a couch together and enjoying some good old fashioned CTF... Okay maybe not, but with four Halo campaigns to play you won't have time to play any multiplayer anyway!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

"I think we're just getting started..."

To start from the beginning with Halo 1, or Halo: Combat Evolved, though no one really calls it that… Halo 1 was the first remastered game that 343 Industries released, for the game's tenth anniversary. At the time this released I was close to buying it as I had never played it before; my first Halo experience being on the Xbox 360 playing Halo 3 and now after playing it in the Master Chief Collection I can safely say that buying it would have been a mistake. Although the remastered version of the game looks good and plays really smoothly at that oh so precious 60 frames per second (fps) 1080p that everyone cares about, the game itself is just so archaic in its level design and gameplay. It just felt like a chore to play through several hours of shooting down narrow hallways that you would then return to later and shoot down again.

I suffered a few bugs, as is the trend with the Master Chief Collection where certain achievements would not unlock despite me meeting the requirements; the achievements for finding the hidden Skulls or Terminals as an example, and a game breaking bug that caused me to crash when playing the final level in Co-Op and as a result I have still not technically “beaten” Halo 1 despite me finishing the level…

“What would you have your Arbiter do?"

Halo 2: Anniversary on the other hand is a great game. While I feel that the Halo 1 story was a very generic sci-fi storyline, Halo 2 is much more polished in that regard and many others. The gameplay is silky smooth as I did not personally have any frame drops at all playing through the game and it looks beautiful (in the remastered mode of course, in classic mode you can still see the polygons sticking out of hills and count the number of pixels on someone’s flat face.) The cut scenes look amazing, though they are CGI and not in the game engine which I am fine with, I would rather have amazing looking and highly detailed cut scenes over player models any day.

The lighting and sound design in Halo 2 is some of the best I’ve seen in video games, making it almost feel like a movie at times. It was cool to fire a needler into the dark hallways and see the room light up pink as the needles ricocheted off the walls. All the guns sound great and the ambiance of some of the levels is really captivating as it makes you feel really immersed into this living, breathing world.

Halo 2 caught me in a way that I didn’t expect. Having never played it or Halo 1 before I went into the game knowing off the story and what happens and yet Halo 2 still managed to take my breath away. I’m sure part of that is because I played the remastered version but I did catch myself flicking back and forth between the two versions in what I thought was a gimmicky feature but it was actually pretty cool.

"This is our fight. And I will see it finished."

Halo 3 was exactly how I remembered it from the countless times I have played it. Kinda boring and a bit of a grind to get through some of the levels (Cortana in particular) though I enjoyed my time playing it again although that may have been because I was playing it Co-Op with a friend and was much more focused on chatting away and having fun than on the game itself. There was a strange moment where on the level: The Covenant the frame rate cut down to what felt like 12 fps, you could literally see the individual frames on the screen and it stayed like that for the entire level. This is the only time I had experienced something like this and I don’t know if it was a network problem or the game just being broken but I felt it was worth mentioning.

I have not played much of Halo 4 as I have been busy playing the other three games and other things outside of gaming but I will say that it feels exactly like Halo 4 on the Xbox 360 only the image is much clearer and it’s at a decent frame rate. I personally think that Halo 4 is the best game in the Master Chief story so I enjoyed my time playing through it again; it’s not a hard game as you can beat it in Legendary with not too much trouble. With Spartan Ops coming out in December later this year, I feel like I will go back to it, I enjoyed playing it when they first released back on the 360 but having to wait each week was painful. So I hope they don't do that again.

"Were it so Easy..."

You may have noticed I’ve not talked much about anything else other than the four campaigns and that’s because everything else in the Master Chief Collection is not that great… 

The matchmaking is broken as it is almost impossible to get into a game. I always thought that the multiplayer would be a problem as it was hard enough in Halo 4 to get maps that you wanted; for example the final DLC maps that I played about four times because of this issue however in the Master Chief Collection is impossible to get into a game, let alone a map you want. I will say from the few games I’ve managed to get into the Halo 2 Anniversary maps look amazing and the extra features and weapons they’ve added into the maps work really well.

The user interface (UI) is terrible. There is an Avatar system, where you can complete objectives to unlock different Avatar’s that you can put on your player cards for people to see. However this is pointless, as they do not display in the multiplayer lobby for people to see; only when someone clicks on your player card do you see them. The player cards themselves are just as bad as there are the same still images on 4-5 different coloured backgrounds that you have to choose from, a massive step backwards from Halo 4’s UI system which allowed you to customise your Spartan form colour, armour and even poses for people to see.

My friend and I played through all four of the campaigns in Co-op experienced nothing but problems trying to play together as the lobby system kept breaking and game invites wouldn’t work. We had to dashboard and exit the game numerous times just to get into a game together.

Halo is fun don’t get me wrong; The Master Chief Collection could be great if it wasn’t so broken. When we could play the game we enjoyed ourselves and had a great time, however the game launched broken and as of the time this review goes up no patch has been implemented to fix these many issues (a patch is expected to come out on Friday the 21st of November) When the game is fixed and is easily playable I would recommend anyone who is interested in the series but looking for an entry point to buy this game but as it is right now I would give it a miss.

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