Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review (2019)
Ryan's Ranking of the Halo Games (Overall, Campaign + Multiplayer)
- Halo 2
- Halo: Combat Evolved
- Halo 3
- Halo 3: ODST
- Halo 4
- Halo Reach
- Halo 5: Guardians
What's your favorite? A quick word on Halo Reach, as it’s the most recent addition to MCC and the first part of launching the whole package on PC. In short, for a nine-year-old game, it still looks quite good after its 4K cleanup on both Xbox One and PC, and it controls beautifully. 343’s first PC game feels a lot more natural on mouse and keyboard than when Gearbox brought Halo 1 to PC back in 2003, and offers PC-centric customization options like FOV adjustments. Audio issues are a bit wonky right now, though, with sound levels for various elements being too loud or too soft, but it’s more of an annoyance. If the rest of the Master Chief Collection’s PC ports are up to this standard, that’ll be excellent news.
All of the previously included campaigns have aged gracefully, too. Halo 4 remains underappreciated, and with its 4K/60fps enhancement it still looks like a recent game on Xbox One X. Halo 3, ODST (also new since MCC’s original launch), and Reach are largely unchanged outside of the resolution and framerate bump, and even Combat Evolved looks surprisingly clean, image quality-wise, for an almost 20-year-old game. It’s a classic for a reason. Halo 2’s Anniversary treatment, meanwhile – which enhanced both the campaign and a select group of multiplayer maps (everything’s available, though most of it hasn’t gotten the facelift) is holding up nicely. Here’s what I said about it in my 2014 review, all of which remains true today:“I jumped straight to the star of the Master Chief Collection: Halo 2 Anniversary. Like 2011’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary is actually running two graphics engines at the same time, allowing you to instantly switch from 2004 graphics to 2014’s Xbox One coat of paint and back again at the touch of a button. Admittedly, the new facade is a bit rough around the edges – I saw occasional frozen enemies, some framerate dips, and a few long loading screens that jarringly interrupt the pace as the impressive new cutscenes cue up. And while the graphics are up to modern standards in many ways, they’re hardly jaw-dropping. Some parts of the campaign seem unnecessarily dark, for instance, and I don’t agree with all of the choices made on the new art. But the sum of Halo 2 Anniversary’s parts – most notably a classic campaign that now runs at 60 frames per second – trumps its minor annoyances.”
About My Original ReviewThis one has always bothered me. See, I got my original review of 2014’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection wrong. I held it for a few days after launch at the time, hoping 343 would patch up the then-four-game collection’s catastrophic matchmaking and connectivity issues, and then I put a 9.0 on it on the strength of its four fantastic campaigns and the faith that the multiplayer issues would be resolved soon enough.
As it turned out, of course, The Master Chief Collection didn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. What should’ve been a dream package for Halo fans was instead a nightmare on the multiplayer side. And for our part, we learned an important lesson and soon began making more use of reviews in progress for server-dependant games in order to help prevent this from happening again.
Fast-forward five years and a lot has changed. Xbox Game Pass is a thing now, and any subscriber gets full access to MCC. The Xbox One X also exists, and playing MCC on it gives you 4K resolution. Even better, the collection has grown to six games, adding Halo 3: ODST and, most recently, Halo Reach (including Firefight mode). The latter is also now available on PC – via Steam, no less! – and serves as the starting point for bringing the whole shebang faithfully to Windows, game by game, between now and Halo Infinite’s launch in Fall 2020.
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Halo Xbox 360 servers to be switched off in 2021
(Pocket-lint) - The Xbox 360 will be effectively, finally killed off next December when then online services for one of its biggest games series will be retired.
Halo game services for the Xbox 360 will no longer work from December 2021. That also means anyone playing the Xbox 360 version of any Halo game on Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S will no longer be able to use its online modes from that period.
The games in question are the Xbox 360 versions of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo 4, Halo: Reach, and Halo Wars. Halo Spartan Assault will also be affected.
All non-online aspects of each game should still work.
There are native Xbox One versions of many of those games, including those in The Master Chief Collection, that will continue to be supported and work as they do now.
"Here at 343 Industries, our teams are wholly focused on the future of Halo. From significant updates and improvements to MCC and the move to PC, to the future of the franchise with Halo Infinite - we’re working to deliver great experiences for years to come," wrote developer 343 in a blog post.
"To that end - today we are announcing our intention to sunset our Halo Xbox 360 legacy services to fully focus on the future of the franchise. In approximately one year, December 2021, online services for legacy Halo Xbox 360 titles will be discontinued. Owners of these titles will still be able to play these games indefinitely, however, certain online features and experiences, particularly online matchmaking, will be limited or disabled."
Writing by Rik Henderson. Originally published on .
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Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Video game compilation
2014 video game
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a compilation of first-person shooter video games in the Halo series, originally released in November 2014 for the Xbox One, and later on Microsoft Windows through 2019 and 2020. An enhanced version was released for the Xbox Series X|S in November 2020. The collection was developed by 343 Industries in partnership with other studios and was published by Xbox Game Studios. The collection includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and Halo 4, which were originally released on earlier Xbox platforms.
Each game added to the Master Chief Collection received a graphical upgrade, with Halo 2 receiving a complete high-definition redesign of its audio and cutscenes, exclusive to the collection, to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The game includes access to the live-action series Halo: Nightfall as well as the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta that was available for a limited time. The collection's multiplayer features every map originally released with each game, including six Halo 2 maps remade from the ground up.
At launch, critics generally praised The Master Chief Collection for its updated audio and visuals, as well as its quantity of content, but criticized its multiplayer aspects due to a significant number of bugs and poor matchmaking experiences. Many of these technical issues were later fixed in post-release patches.
The Master Chief Collection originally consisted of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4, complete with their full catalog of extras, including all multiplayer maps and gameplay modes. There have been no story or gameplay changes to the original releases. The games are first-person shooters with vehicular combat that takes place from a third-person perspective. All four campaign modes can be played alone or cooperatively via split screen or Xbox Live. Each campaign has four difficulty levels and access to gameplay modifiers known as "Skulls".
As in Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 players can swap between the original and upgraded graphics on the fly. Additions to Halo 2's campaign mode include "Terminals", and new prologue and epilogue cutscenes to link the series for Halo 5's debut. Since only six of the game's multiplayer maps were remastered, there are two Halo 2 multiplayer modes. The Halo 2 anniversary multiplayer mode uses the six remastered maps, while the standard Halo 2 multiplayer mode includes all of the original game's released maps with a full graphical update but no remastering. The Collection multiplayer includes Mission Setlists, curated lists of levels selected from throughout the series.
The Extras menu includes access to live-action video series Halo: Nightfall and the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta, until it was removed prior to the game's release. The compilation features new Achievements, and all difficulty and play modes are unlocked from the start. The game launched with a total of 4,000 Gamerscore spread across 400 Achievements—the largest amount of Gamerscore given to a game since its introduction—with another 500 Gamerscore, spread across 50 Achievements, being released in a day-one update. With the release of Spartan Ops a few months later, an additional 50 Achievements, worth 500 Gamerscore, were released. In May 2015, another 100 Achievements, worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore, were released alongside Halo 3: ODST.
343 Industries studio head Bonnie Ross pushed for Halo 4 to be a launch title for the Xbox One, but it instead released in 2012 for the Xbox 360. The timing left a gap in the release schedule between Halo 4 and Halo 5. Having previously developed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary for Combat Evolved's tenth anniversary, the initial plan was to release a similar standalone Halo 2 Anniversary within the first few years of the new console's lifecycle.
The collection was developed by 343 Industries, Certain Affinity, and Saber Interactive, with development assistance by United Front Games a new cutscenes by Blur Studio. Following the announcement of The Master Chief Collection at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2014, Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's Xbox division, stated that the collection originally began as just a remastering of Halo 2 to celebrate its 10th anniversary. 343 Industries decided that it would be a great opportunity to release the other main Halo titles for the Xbox One in preparation for the 2015 release of Halo 5: Guardians. All of the games run at 60 frames per second and have received lighting upgrades; all but the Halo 2 remake have a native resolution of 1080p. On October 18, 2014, the game had been declared gold, indicating it was being prepared for duplication and release.
Combat Evolved Anniversary is based on the high-definition remaster of the original game released in 2011 for Xbox 360.Kinect features from the Xbox 360 version are not supported in the Xbox One collection. Stereoscopic 3D features from the Xbox 360 version are not supported in the Xbox One collection.Ruffian Games was responsible for developing the Halo 3 and Halo 4 ports.Halo 3 and Halo 4 received only a simple lighting upgrade, and an increase in both frame rate and rendering resolution. 343 Industries designed the interfaces and online networking. United Front Games worked on the unified interface that works across all games. Coinciding with the release of The Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries developed the Halo Channel, an application for the Xbox One and Windows. It is a successor to the Halo Waypoint app that was released on the Xbox 360. The Xbox One app is integrated with the collection, allowing players to access Halo: Nightfall and "Terminal" animations, unlock rewards for the game, and launch the games directly from the app.
Halo 2: Anniversary
Saber Interactive, which co-developed Combat Evolved Anniversary, assisted in the remake of Halo 2's campaign. It received a complete visual overhaul. The game's soundtrack and sound effects, such as weapon audio, were updated as well. The refined Halo 2 cutscenes, as well as two new cutscenes created to complement the Halo 5: Guardians storyline, were produced by Blur Studio. They feature the same structure and timing of the originals, and motion capture was utilized for the animation.
"Terminals", a feature first introduced in Halo 3, were added to the Halo 2: Anniversary campaign. Their purpose was to create a "connective tissue" for stories within the Halo universe that explores the relationship between the different races within the Covenant and extensively covers the events portrayed in Halo 2. Terminals also gave 343 Industries the opportunity to introduce Spartan Locke, a main character in Halo 5: Guardians. Visual effect studio The Sequence Group collaborated with 343 Industries to provide the animation; the group had previously performed similar work in Combat Evolved Anniversary and Halo 4. Several voice actors reprised their roles including Keith David as the Arbiter, John DiMaggio as the Heretic Leader, and Tim Dadabo as 343 Guilty Spark. Mike Colter provided the voice-over for Spartan Locke.
Once the Halo 2: Anniversary project was green-lit, executive producer Dan Ayoub at 343 Industries reached out to Max Hoberman of Certain Affinity for assistance on the multiplayer component. Hoberman originally designed Halo 2's multiplayer and founded Certain Affinity after leaving Bungie in 2006. Certain Affinity was asked to remake several of the multiplayer maps from Halo 2. The team found it difficult to decide how many of the original 24 maps to redesign and eventually settled on six – two small, two medium, and two large – to provide some variation.
Along with the visual upgrade, Halo 2's original score was re-recorded with the San Francisco Symphony at Skywalker Sound studio. Guitarist Steve Vai returned to the franchise to play on additional tracks with Periphery guitarist Misha Mansoor. The Halo 2: Anniversary soundtrack was released on November 11, 2014.
On June 9, 2014, Halo: The Master Chief Collection was announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo with a trailer titled "Hunter and the Hunted". The trailer was created by animation company Digital Domain, which had previously collaborated on other Halo commercials. The trailer recreates a moment from Halo 2, in which the Master Chief rides a bomb into a Covenant ship. It is narrated by Keith David, who voices the Arbiter. Several other trailers were released prior to launch, showcasing the updated cinematics and Terminals featured in Halo 2: Anniversary, and gameplay from all titles across the collection. On October 31, 2014, 343 Industries released a documentary, Remaking the Legend – Halo 2: Anniversary, chronicling the history of Halo 2 and the development of Halo 2: Anniversary; it also features interviews with developers at Bungie and 343 Industries. The documentary was initially broadcast on Twitch, and was later available on the Halo Channel, Xbox Video, and YouTube.
In August 2014, UK retailer Game revealed two special editions of The Master Chief Collection. The "Limited" edition includes a steel book case, a map book, and an in-game modifier, while the "Mjolnir" edition includes all the content from the Limited edition, along with a 1-foot (0.30 m) statue of the Master Chief. In October 2014, Microsoft announced a white Master Chief Collection Xbox One bundle for Brazil and other "select markets". A second Xbox One bundle containing the collection was announced for release in the United States during March 2015.
The collection was released worldwide in November 2014. 343 Industries confirmed that the collection would be available to download from the Xbox Games Store on the day of release. A 15-gigabyte patch went live to those who had digitally preordered it through the Xbox Games Store on November 6, 2014. Players who preordered through the Xbox Games Store also received early access to the "Boom" Skull, which provides double the explosion physics in the Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 campaign mode; it became available to all other users on December 12, 2014.
At launch, many players experienced problems with online matchmaking modes. 343 Industries released numerous updates to address these issues. On November 24, 2014, Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, issued a public apology noting issues "that have resulted in a frustrating experience, including long matchmaking times and low session success rates". On December 19, 2014, Microsoft announced that as an apology for the issues, it would give a free month of Xbox Live Gold, a special avatar and nameplate, and a free downloadable copy of the Halo 3: ODST campaign to those who played the game between its launch and December 19, 2014. The campaign mode of ODST was released to the public on May 30, 2015, and with it, 100 additional Achievements. It is available to purchase separately to those who are not eligible for a free code for the add-on.
Spartan Ops, the episodic content originating in Halo 4, was released as free downloadable content for The Master Chief Collection on December 22, 2014. Additional Achievements for Spartan Ops and the multiplayer mode were released on January 8, 2015.
Halo: Nightfall—a series of weekly, episodic digital videos directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan and produced by Ridley Scott—launched soon after the collection was released. The series was designed to connect the stories of previous Halo games to the upcoming Halo 5. The Halo 5 beta launched on December 29, 2014, and ran until January 18, 2015.
With the release of The Master Chief Collection, Microsoft and 343 Industries announced an official esports league, the Halo Championship Series (HCS). 343 Industries partnered with the Electronic Sports League, live-streaming platform Twitch, and other tournament organisers to foster the competitive multiplayer community in Halo. The first season of HCS, featuring Halo 2: Anniversary's multiplayer, launched in November 2014 and ran until March 2015. It served as a test bed for ideas and future plans that 343 Industries had for esports in Halo 5.
In April 2018, the MCC Insider Program was launched to playtest upcoming changes to The Master Chief Collection, notably the various improvements to its interface and to its multiplayer modes. As a part of the various changes, 343 Industries introduced patches to bring back well-known Halo 2 glitches from the original Xbox version, such as sword flying in the campaign. This led to an increased interest in speedrunning the game on the MCC version. On August 27, 2018, the changes were published for all players.
In August 2020, 343 Industries announced that Xbox-PC crossplay will be made available by the end of 2020, based upon input-based matchmaking. The crossplay option was made available with the release of final game in the collection on November 17, 2020.
Microsoft Windows release
On March 12, 2019, following a series of teases, Xbox Game Studios announced on the Inside Xboxlive stream that The Master Chief Collection would be coming to Windows via the Steam digital distribution platform in addition to the Microsoft Store.Splash Damage and Ruffian Games aided 343 Industries in the development of the port. Xbox Game Studios plans to roll out the individual games in the collection separately, starting with Halo: Reach and then proceeding chronologically from Combat Evolved. Upon this announcement, 343 Industries' offices in Redmond, Washington were overwhelmed by pizza delivery orders from anonymous users, particularly from Reddit.
The collection was released on Steam and Microsoft Store on December 3, 2019. Only Halo: Reach was playable at launch, but subsequent titles became available over the following year. 343 Industries had set out to have the collection playable on PC before the launch of Halo Infinite in 2021. This goal was met with the release of the PC version of Halo 4 on November 17, 2020.
Xbox Series X|S release
An enhanced edition of the console version of the collection was released on November 17, 2020 for Xbox Series X|S. It features various graphical and gameplay improvements, including some features introduced with the PC release, such as the variable field of view and running at 120 FPS in both singleplayer and multiplayer modes, with support for 4K resolution on Xbox Series X. Players can also cross-play between Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
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Halo: The Master Chief Collection received generally positive reviews. Aggregating review website Metacritic gave it a score 85 out of 100 based on reviews from 69 critics. Reviews praised the graphics, frame rate, and content included in the bundle, but criticized the prominent matchmaking issues that prevented players from playing online multiplayer modes on release day.
The technical issues deeply affected the game's online experience. Forbes' Paul Tassi wrote the game on release "was just flat out broken", and though improvements have been made, it "may very well be the worst major game release in a decade." Stuart Andrews of Trusted Reviews commented that "Halo 3 looks and feels surprisingly dated" when compared to the rest of the collection, particularly Halo 2 and Halo 4.
Following the announcement of Halo: Reach being added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the announcement of the game coming to Windows, 343 Industries was sent pizzas from fans as a token of appreciation. Brian Jarrard, community director at 343 Industries, eventually pleaded fans to stop sending pizzas, as the number of pizzas being delivered was becoming overwhelming.
- ^Additional work by Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity, United Front Games, and Blur Studio. Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach were originally developed by Bungie. Ruffian Games and Splash Damage assisted with the development of the Windows release.
- ^Was released in some time zones on November 16, 2020, a few hours before the official date.
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The Xbox Series X and Series S consoles are less than a month away from release, and ahead of launch, Microsoft is announcing that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be fully optimized for its next-gen hardware.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection on the Series X / S will run at 120 frames per second in both campaign and multiplayer modes, Microsoft confirmed. Split-screen will also receive some improvements, and the game will get 4K support for the Series X.
The upgrade will be available starting on November 17th, one week after the Xbox Series X / S release. Those who currently own the game will receive a free copy. The game is also available on Microsoft’s gaming subscription service, Xbox Game Pass.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a anthology that includes Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, Halo Reach, and Halo 4. The compilation was originally released on the Xbox One but was ported to PC in late 2019, though it has been slow to add every game in the collection.
With Halo: Infinite delayed until next year, the announcement of The Master Chief Collection coming to the Xbox Series X / S within the first month of the console’s launch is a nice benefit for early adopters. It’s also great for Halo fans who likely played the game on the Xbox One (or PC) but are interested in playing a more optimized version of the compilation that takes full advantage of the next-gen hardware.
$28 at Microsoft
Chief edition xbox 360 master
For the first time ever, The Master Chief's entire story is on one console. Featuring a re-mastered Halo 2: Anniversary, along with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo: Nightfall, a new digital series, and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Beta, this is the definitive Halo experience.*
* Some game features, including hidden terminal videos, require broadband internet; ISP fees apply. Online multiplayer features require Xbox Live Gold membership (sold separately). Halo 5: Guardians sold separately; release date not yet announced. Halo: Nightfall: 5 episode live action series is streaming only, with episodes releasing on a weekly basis. Xbox One or Windows 8.1 and broadband internet required; ISP fees apply. Halo 5: Guardians Beta: Halo: The Master Chief Collection required. Limited Time Beta Starts: December 29, 2014; Ends: January 18, 2015. Must be 17+. Xbox One, broadband internet (ISP fees apply) and Xbox Live Gold membership (sold separately) required. Halo: Nightfall and Halo 5: Guardians Beta dates, content, and features subject to change. See www.xbox.com/halo
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