Editor’s Note: This is the third and final part of our week-long review of Halo 2: Anniversary and the entire Master Chief Collection! Make sure to check out our review of the best remastered maps and campaign levels, as well as our review of Halo 2: Anniversary.
It’s amazing how much time I’ve spent writing about Halo this week. That I’ve had the pleasure to play this series for 13 years and then share my love for the games with you is a dream come true. This has been a great week for Halo fans in general.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection would be the single greatest piece of fan service ever created for the gaming world if it weren’t for its very broken multiplayer component that is still suffering from poor matchmaking 3 days after its release. But the heart is there. What does work, namely all 4 campaigns under one roof with their original control schemes, soundtracks, cinematics, and loadouts, is incredible. Not to mention a remastered version of Halo 2: Anniversary with gorgeous, new cinematics from Blur. People that said the collection was just a money grab can quietly exit the room.
I’ve already reviewed Halo 2: Anniversary separately, so I won’t really talk about that in this review. As far as multiplayer, there’s not much else I can say except that it doesn’t work. Matchmaking takes forever to find a game, and when you finally do find a match, the lag is ridiculous. When 343 gets the multiplayer component up and running, it’s going to be killer, though.
Assuming people still care next week, the options are endless. You can choose from several playlists that allow you to play your favorite version of Halo multiplayer. You only want to play Halo 2 multiplayer? Here’s a playlist with only Halo 2 maps (remastered maps, btw), the original hub, loadouts, and control scheme (which you can change at will). Or if you prefer to play on maps across the entire series, you can do that, too. Really, multiplayer is going to be great if someone can manage to turn the lights on.
Every game in the collection, while on one disc, maintains its own identity. Jump into any of the four campaigns and you’ll immediately discover the button layout for that specific game, as well as the hub. I actually found the different layouts annoying, so I created one universal control scheme for all four games at the press of a button. The collection is convenient that way. Each game plays slightly different from the other, and if you play the campaigns in order, you’ll recognize just how much the series has evolved from the first game to the newest. It’s a lot of fun to experience Halo‘s innovative early take on the console shooter and then jump into Halo 4‘s focus on mobility. The speed at which you can unload bullets on your enemies really varies. Oh, and you can even play a single-player or co-op playlist that allows you to play through a mix of levels across all of the games. It’s fun if you just want to fart around for a bit.
Sometimes, the drawbacks of a collection this size do become noticeable. My biggest issue (besides the multiplayer) are the endless load screens that flash in between levels, cinematics, matchmaking, literally everything. Many cinematics are broken up by load screens, which interrupt the flow of the story, pulls you out of the experience for just a few seconds. Don’t get me wrong, the load times are super short, but they are a bit annoying. That’s pretty nitpicky, though. And doesn’t overshadow all the great stuff in the collection.
Playing through older games at 60 fps, 1080 p can be a bit disorienting at first. It was to my untrained eye, anyways. While Halo 2 got most of the love and was undoubtedly retrofitted for the higher visual fidelity, the other three games are pretty much the same in terms of graphics except for the upgrade in resolution. Your eye adjusts, though. I just had to lower the look sensitivity.
I won’t go into reviewing oft-reviewed games from the past. I’ll just say that they’re still a lot of fun, and it’s never been easier to sit down in your living room and pick up the Halo adventure of your choosing and play for a while. I’m having quite a bit of fun with Halo 2: Anniversary with a friend at the moment.
As far as extras go, there’s plenty of stuff to watch, including the Halo: Nightfall digital series, which has a direct connection to the upcoming Halo 5. You can also watch all of the terminal clips from every game that has them if you don’t feel like finding them in-game. Or you can sit back and admire the new Halo 2: Anniversary cinematics because they’re just that good. Finally, there’s a neat, nostalgic documentary about Halo 2.
By the way, you also get access to Halo 5 multiplayer beta coming in December, so if nothing else will, perhaps that will draw you in. I know I’m pumped.
There are a whole mess of leaderboards, achievements, and skulls that will keep you playing even after you’ve finished all four campaigns. While the leaderboards aren’t exactly working right now, it will be fun to compete with your friends once they’re up and running. Yikes, I’ve said that a lot in this review, haven’t I?
Yes, Halo: The Master Chief Collection would be all the more effective if it had everything working correctly from launch, but I’d say that it holds its own in a season that has seen its fair share of shooters and competitive multiplayer. Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and now this big end-all Halo collection. FPS fans have been treated right this year.
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