Halo: Combat “Remastered”

When Halo: Combat Evolved was released in 2001 for the original Xbox consoles, no one could have imagined the storm that was to follow. Gamers ate up the story of  Master Chief and his quest to end the threat of the Covenant and the Flood. Halo became one of the most influential video games ever released and, along with its three sequels, has garnered critical acclaim from game critics and gamers everywhere. The first two games in the series were released on the original Xbox console, while the third and fourth games were both released for the Xbox 360. Now, 13 years after the original release of Halo: Combat Evolved, all four games have been collected and placed on a single disc and it is one of the best collections ever released for a video game console.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection, released on the Xbox One console on Nov. 11, 2014, collects all four games in the Halo series. It includes the newly revamped version of Halo 2 known as Halo 2: Anniversary, and features some of the best gameplay, visuals and storytelling that has ever graced a series of video games. The collection was developed by 343 studios.

The main campaigns have remained relatively unchanged despite graphical overhaul to Halo 2. Landing on Halo, defending planet Earth, speeding around worlds in the drivers seat of a Warthog and mowing down Covenant and Flood is just as fun now as it was all those years ago.

All four campaigns and multiplayer run at 1080p and 60 frames per second. The anniversary edition of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3 and Halo 4 all look exceptional and play just as well as they have in the past. The one big difference that the collection gives gamers is the addition of Halo 2: Anniversary.

Updated graphics and revamped cutscenes make Halo 2: Anniversary even better than the original release. The revamped cutscenes are extremely good looking. The graphics of the campaign have also been upgraded and look really good as well. If gamers want to enjoy Halo 2 in its original glory, they can press a button on the Xbox One controller and flip back to the original graphics. The graphic flip mechanic is also available on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.

Halo: Nightfall is included with the collection and is made available to watch through the Halo Channel. Halo: Nightfall is a mini-series produced by Ridley Scott and David W. Zucker and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan. According to halowaypoint.com, “Halo: Nightfall provides insight into the origin and backstory of legendary manhunter Agent Locke. [He is a] a pivotal new character in the Halo universe and will play a key role in Halo 5: Guardians.” Some of the cutscenes in Halo 2: Anniversary further introduce the character of Jameson Locke into the Halo universe.

Another big feature of the Master Chief Collection is that each copy of the game  includes an invitation to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta. The beta is scheduled to start on Dec. 29, 2014 and end on Jan. 18, 2015. The beta will be the first time gamers will get their hands on a playable version of any aspect of Halo 5.

A big part of the Halo series has always been the multiplayer. Modes such as Slayer, Team Slayer and Capture the Flag have been series staples from the beginning and all return in the collection. One of the best things about the collection is you can now have map and mode playlists featuring all four games. One session you’ll be playing on Blood Gulch from Halo: Combat Evolved and the next you’ll be taken to the snowy buildings of lockout from Halo 2: Anniversary. Having over 100 multiplayer maps from all four games is one of the premier features of the collection and ensures that gamers will not get bored due to lack of content.

The Collection also includes a documentary known as “Remaking A Legend – Halo 2: Anniversary.” The documentary is about an hour long and follows 343 studios and their collaborators in their quest to bring Halo 2 to the Xbox One.

My one problem with the collection is that the matchmaking multiplayer system is sometimes wonky and took quite a bit of time for a match to load. 343 studios has publicly commented on the issue and they are currently working on patches that will fix the issues.

If you are a first time Halo player, a fan of good games in general, own an Xbox One or someone who just wants to dive back into the Halo universe after being away for awhile, this collection is for you. It’s easily one of the top titles on the Xbox One right now and will definitely tide gamers over for quite sometime while Halo 5: Guardians is being developed.