Tech News on G4
A masterful collection of Halo campaigns
Nov 12, 2014
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
G4 Canada will be providing two separate reviews for Halo: The Master Chief Collection - one for the single player campaigns, and one for the multiplayer. Here we look at the four campaigns, while next week we delve into the online competitive portion.
It's no secret that we live in a world that loves to binge - from weekends spent plowing through an entire series on Netflix, to going up for fifths at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Now it's time for first-person shooter fans to put on their stretchy pants and turn off their phones, because Halo: The Master Chief Collection tempts gamers with oodles of top-notch content.
We all knew Microsoft wasn't going to go two straight holiday seasons without some kind of offering from its lucrative Halo franchise. What may surprise you is just how expansive this collection - which includes Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4 - is.
In a brilliant move that bucks a trend followed by so many other developers, virtually everything in the Master Chief Collection is unlocked right from the get-go. You can play any mission from any campaign in any order you please, while skulls - which unlock special score modifiers for campaign levels - can be activated or deactivated at will.
Some seasoned Halo veterans may choose to jump back and forth in the series to fan-favourite levels such as Halo: CE's "Silent Cartographer" or Halo 2's "Delta Halo," but I chose to play every campaign from beginning to end, with all skulls turned off, simply to revisit what it was (sort of) like to play each game for the first time.
Simply put, it's absolutely fascinating to what the evolution of this franchise. There are a lot of Halo faithful who will go to their grave saying that Combat Evolved is the best campaign in the series, but playing through it again in 2014 shows that it doesn't hold up.
The game still features awesome weapons - especially that shotgun - superb shooting mechanics, and an ambitious plot, but the level design proves to be confusing for those who don't have the game memorized. Objective markers are used sparingly, and many environments are too repetitive for their own good.
That said, I'm still glad I replayed it, because doing so proves to make Halo 2 and every successive sequel, that much more enjoyable.
It's the 10-year anniversary of Halo 2 in 2014, and it's clear that that game has received the most attention for this collection. Combat Evolved received a really cool graphical update in 2011 on the Xbox 360 for its own 10-year anniversary, and now it's Halo 2's turn.
Once again, 343 Industries has updated a Halo game with a whole new look that can be reverted back to the original graphics instantaneously at the touch of a button. I still think this is such a novel idea, and while some players may ignore it altogether, I was addicted to switching back and forth, comparing the then and now.
All of Halo 2's cutscenes have also been updated in breathtaking CGI, and it's tempting to say that these videos alone are worth the price of admission. Even the revolting Tartarus looks stunning, as you can practically count the strands of hair on his head, and Gravemind is now downright terrifying, and truly a sight to behold.
All I could think of while watching the cutscenes was just how awesome a true, full-length Halo movie really could be. Maybe another decade from now, right?
Halo 3 debuted on the Xbox 360 and was the series' first high-definition entry. That game, as well as the first 343 Industries-developed game Halo 4, both appear in essentially the same form as they originally did.
Halo 3 suffers the most, as it actually looks a little rougher around the edges sandwiched between the overhauled Halo 2 and Halo 4, the latter of which came late in the 360's life cycle and really did an excellent job taking advantage of the system's power. That said, Halo 3 is still an absolute blast to play, even if it did reuse a lot of stuff from the previous two Halo titles.
The most recent game in the series, Halo 4, more than holds up, and acts as a - dare I say it? - grittier entry in the series.
It seems like every other week a remake of a previous-generation game is being released. It's sometimes difficult knowing which remakes are worth exploring, but know this: The Master Chief Collection is absolutely worth getting both for Halo fans who have already gone through all four campaigns, and for those who have yet to play even one of the games.
This collection wasn't just thrown together to sell a few extra Xbox Ones at Christmas. It's a fully-realized love letter to Halo fans, and serves to prove that despite a few imperfections sprinkled throughout the four campaigns, each game's single player portion is well worth visiting for the first time, or revisiting.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Single Player)
About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.