In its 13 years of existence, Halo: Combat Evolved made Master Chief just as memorable as Mario.
Then, Halo 2 showed that consoles could have online multiplayer that could be just as fun as PC online multiplayer. While Halo 3 had a strong end to the trilogy, Halo 4 for some reason missed a step. The single player was strong, but multiplayer, which was always a strong point in the series, missed its mark.
So, 343 Studios decided to compile the entire series into one disc and see what fans really want. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is the compilation of the remake of the first game, a remake of the second game and the original, and the third and fourth titles.
I’m not going to get into the story or gameplay of the story modes here. There are the exact same as when you played them years ago and, if you’ve never played them before, they’re highly worth experiencing for the first time if you have an Xbox One.
Instead, I’ll focus on changes the collection brings, some new features and the biggest question: how does the online multiplayer handle.
The game immediately starts off by unlocking every campaign mission, meaning you don’t have to wait to experience The Silent Cartographer or other fan favorite levels.
The biggest draw here is the remastering of Halo 2. The cutscenes have all been redone and look amazing. The game looks just as stunning. You can hit back at anytime to see the original graphics and new graphics, and the gap between the two is definitely wide.
One thing to note is that players can go through and just watch the cutscenes if they want. So, if they want to relive the Halo lore without playing the missions, they can easily do so before hopping into the multiplayer or custom playlists.
Another great feature that was added are the new options in the menu. Players can select a control option for one or all games, and pretty much any control style is available here. I also loved the option to auto-mute everyone in multiplayer. That’s a great feature any online game should have.
343 Industries also included a new Playlists section, which can be interesting for a while with friends. It takes some key levels and groups them together with a common theme, such as tanks or close escapes. Unfortunately, the levels are the entire missions, not just the key segments that made the levels great. Still the cross-game playlists were enjoyable to check out.
Now it’s time to get to the meat of the game: the multiplayer. The studio definitely outdid themselves with the maps, bringing over every multiplayer map released, including the Halo PC maps and DLC maps. In addition, several Halo 2 maps got a graphical upgrade to brand new maps, which look great.
Unfortunately, some of these remastered multiplayer maps are sometimes a separate playlist than other maps, meaning you have a very small selection of maps that will be recycled. For Halo 2, I think both new and old maps should be combined together for matchmaking.
As far as the playlists go, there are plenty of classics to choose from, such as Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, Oddball, Races, Flood, Infection and more. If you’re favorite mode isn’t there, there’s always ways to make custom playlists, although not every playlist is in every game. Forge is also back for the mutiplayer maps in the third and fourth game, as well as the remade maps from the second game.
The biggest disappointment so far, though, is the matchmaking. What should be the shining light of the game is laggy and full of connection problems. Looking for a match can sometimes take 10-15 minutes without finding anything, and finding one doesn’t guarantee you’ll stay in the lobby with the players for long. Even if you do get into a game, must games I’ve played so far are extremely laggy, with players jumping to and fro.
The good news is that, once matchmaking is fixed, it will feature maps from every game in there. Not every matchmaking list will have every map, but most lists have a good variety of maps from the different games.
A few other things I want to touch on is the Theater mode returning to let you rewatch your old matches or your friends matches online. There are also plenty of other features coming in the future, such as Halo TV, the Halo Nightfall series, the beta for Halo 5: Guardians and the Spartan Ops mode from Halo 4. There’s plenty to do in The Master Chief Collection, and fans won’t be bored for quite some time.
Overall, once the matchmaking gets fixed, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be a must-own title for any Xbox One owner to experience the series that really put the Xbox on the map. For now, fans will still enjoy it to relive their favorite moments and to play custom games, just stay away from multiplayer for now.