Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review


The Xbox One has no Halo. Madness, I tell thee! Enter, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, featuring jazzier versions of Halo, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4. Quick and easy cash-in or does this collection actually do justice to four top quality games? It’s more of the latter. A whole lot more.

Game: Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Reviewed on: 


(review code provided)


Showing us that first-person shooters could work on a console, Halo had a massive influence on the gaming world when it was originally released on the Xbox. Times have obviously moved on, but Combat Evolved remains a very good shooter. Some elements of it might seem archaic and a bit outdated (no zoom for most weapons), but the quality of the core gameplay more than endures the test of time. Guns, grenades and melee, it’s a combination that still works and is a whole lot of fun. Mainly because the enemy AI is fantastic, something I’m happy to see 343 Industries have not messed around with. It makes every single enemy encounter an utter joy, putting newer, more modern shooters to shame.

And that’s just the campaign. For the first time, on Xbox LIVE anyway, you can play the Halo multiplayer. As promised by 343 Industries at E3, it’s completely untouched and just like it was on the original Xbox. If, like me, you played multiplayer via system link then this will be sweet music to your ears. The campaign was the best part of the original release, but the multiplayer side of it was criminally underrated. It wasn’t included in the Xbox 360 release of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, so it’s more than welcome here.

In terms of visuals and performance, this remaster performs superbly. Running at 1080p and 60fps, it’s as smooth as you’d like. It’s definitely an improvement over the Xbox 360 release, but just don’t go in expecting a title with Xbox One like fidelity. You can still switch between the Xbox visuals and the upgraded ones at the press of a button too. It’s a gimmick, sure, but it’s nice to occasionally switch back and forth to reminisce or see how far the visuals have come.


Surprisingly, Halo 2 is the best of the bunch in this bumper package. In addition to upgraded visuals (1080p/60fps), the cutscenes have been given some much needed attention. Not only do they look great, but they actually make more sense now too. Don’t get me wrong (without going into spoilers), the story still feels a tad unfinished, but the tweaks help you make a little more sense of what’s happening. Just like Halo: Combat Evolved, you can switch between old and new visuals at the press of a button as well.

Just like its predecessor, the gameplay remains untouched. It’s still all about guns, grenades and melee, but this time you get to see and play it from two different points of view. Don’t worry, if you haven’t played Halo 2, I won’t say anymore. The AI remains wonderfully smart and challenging too, but the main draw here is the multiplayer. It’s fair to say Halo’s second outing was the making of Xbox LIVE, and the content that features in this remaster remains untouched in its glorious original form.  I have some fond memories of playing local and online multiplayer on Zanzibar, and found it to be just as much fun as it was back then. I guess class is permanent after all.

It doesn’t end there with the multiplayer either, as 343 Industries has packed in a little bit more. Yes, there’s more. Halo 2 also includes Ascension, Zanzibar, Lockout, Sanctuary, Warlock and Coagulation remade with sexy new visuals. Each map looks stunning, with little tweaks breathing new life into the original designs. As someone who is a huge fan of the Zanzibar and Ascension, I was a bit worried about them being remade, but 343 Industries has done a fantastic job. Early signs suggest Halo 2 will be the most played part of the collection, mainly down to the multiplayer and these redesigned maps. And, hey, despite the rushed story, even the campaign is damn good.


Probably the least impressive part of the collection, Halo 3 hasn’t had visuals or cutscenes redone like Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo2, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthy. It’s 1080p and 60fps, plus it still plays beautifully. Bungie’s last proper Halo game, the formula is still the same, but with some newer (tougher) enemies and amazing set pieces. Then you have support tools (armour, abilities etc.) such as the bubble shield, introducing a welcome strategic element to proceedings. This might be controversial, but the story is arguably the best of the trilogy or at least on par with the first Halo. There, I said it.

Just like the other two games in the collection, Halo 3’s multiplayer component is present. Untouched, of course. While I don’t think the maps are as good as the ones in Halo 2, on the whole the multiplayer facet is still undoubtedly excellent and lots of fun. I played hours upon hours of multiplayer when the game was originally released on the Xbox 360, found myself getting addicted to it during my time reviewing the collection. Playing on Sandtrap again brought back some great memories, like the time I took on four friends on my own and completely destroyed them. Fun.


I reviewed Halo 4 when it was originally released on the Xbox 360, saying:

“Whether or not Microsoft should’ve resurrected the Halo series is irrelevant at this point. Like it or not, Master Chief is back. And you know what; it’s great to be back in his massive boots. 343 Industries have done a fantastic job in staying true to the Halo roots whilst adding their own, modern twist to the gameplay. However, whilst there’s no doubt that they’ve freshened the series up a little, those expecting a massive departure from previous Halo games might end up somewhat disappointed. That said, despite the slightly abrupt ending, the campaign is a blast throughout and multiplayer is sure to keep you addicted until the next addition to the series. Simply put, if you’re a fan of the series, Halo 4 won’t disappoint. It’s not a perfect return, but Master Chief is well and truly back. Long live the Chief.”

The above still rings true now. Sure, a couple of years have passed (damn, time flies), but it remains an excellent addition to the Halo series. More so than before, perhaps because of the other games in collection, I noticed the changes 343 Industries has made, but the essence of what Bungie left behind is still there. It’s Halo, but “modernised” and upgraded a bit.

Multiplayer isn’t too different from Halo 3, apart from the added 343 Industries stamp, which means it’s (as always) fun. This extract from my review two years ago sums it up quite nicely.

“Finally, you have the famous Halo multiplayer, which is still as addictive as ever. Taking inspiration from the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield, the more you play it, the more you will get out of it. Not only will you rank up, but you’ll unlock new weapons, abilities, armour and loadout slots. There are several game types for you to get to grips with too, including the likes of Infinity Slayer, Oddball, Capture the Flag and King of the Hill. You might not enjoy all of them, but play for a few hours and you’re sure to find a favourite or two. Also, if you’re so inclined, you can save and share your most memorable online moments in screenshot or video form. For the creative Halo fans out there, Forge mode makes a welcome return, allowing you to create your own maps, share them and then play on them with friends. There really is so much on content offer in Halo 4, so much so that almost everyone will find something to enjoy.”

It’s worth mentioning that 343 Industries has also included a playlists feature, allowing to play through campaign missions in a specific way or style. Just want to play through “boss” battles? There’s a playlist for that. Only want to play vehicle missions? There’s a playlist for that. It’s nice little addition, giving you total control over how you tackle the collection.


Halo: The Mast Chief Collection is a great example of how great games should be remastered and packaged up together. 343 Industries has thrown a lot of love and attention at it, making four great games available to Xbox One owners. Yes, it would’ve been nice if Halo 3 was given the same treatment as Halo 2, but that’s a small bone of contention. This is all four Halo games, with untouched (and improved) multiplayer, in one awesome collection. For fans of the series, it’s a fantastic and more than worthy trip down memory lane. Other the other hand, if you’re new to Halo, you need to pick up this collection.


Joint Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful place. Over 10 years of games industry experience on all sides of the fence and more! Huge Metal Gear fan and all-round geek.


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