Halo: The Master Chief Collection — Catching Up with an Old Friend
If games like Mario, Pokemon, and Smash Bros constitute my very first gaming experiences, then games like Call of Duty and Halo were my first SERIOUS gaming experiences, my first M rated games. The boys and I played Smash Bros in our pre-teen years (with heavy relapses occurring every three or four years) and then split screen first person shooters once we became real men. While COD was the more dominant franchise when I was in middle school, it was playing Halo 2 at sleepovers with my friends that first ignited my love for FPS games.
The Master Chief Collection includes Halos 1–4. Reach and ODST are available as DLC and are free on Game Pass, so I was able to play through those as well. I dabbled with the campaigns for the first two Halos but I was too young to really remember much, so I’m not playing these campaigns with nostalgia goggles on like so many other players. The story was absolutely epic, and despite being a man of few words you can’t help but develop an attachment to the chief by the time you finish the second campaign. The first two Halos got the remastered treatment and look beautiful on current gen, with Halo 2 looking especially exceptional. You can swap between the remastered graphics and the original with a quick press of the select button which is a nice touch as well. Halo 4 came out towards the end of the 360s life and holds up beautifully. That leaves Halo 3 as the odd one out, which is a shame, because many people consider Halo 3 to be the best Halo and it looks a generation behind the other games in the collection.
Playing through the Halo campaigns was a chore at times. After playing games like Skyrim, Borderlands 2, and GTA V, going back to the linear, mission by mission gameplay of FPS campaigns was a bit painful. But I will say this, if you enjoy achievement hunting, then MCC is the game for you. I’ve yet to see a game that comes close to the number of achievements MCC has available. Playing missions are heroic was a challenge, often taking over an hour to beat a single mission, but makes the game much more rewarding than just mindlessly running through everyone and has the added benefit of unlocking an achievement. If you’ve never played Halo before and you’re looking for a purely single player experience, you should probably stay away from this game.
The multiplayer side of MCC is also lacking in some regards. The gameplay definitely still holds up, even for the original Halo. The games all run smoothly and the connection is generally okay, about what I expect from a triple A FPS game. The problems I have are mostly with the matchmaking. The game refuses to start unless you have a full game, leading to some longer wait times, sometimes over five minutes between matches. The game also kicks you out of the lobby and makes a brand new one for every single game, exacerbating the long wait times. You also have to consider that MCC spans four different games (six if you include dlc), each with their unique selection of multiplayer game modes, splitting up the player base and piling onto the matchmaking problem. The multiplayer is a joy to play, I only wish I got to do more playing rather than sitting in unfilled lobbies.
For fans of the series, MCC is a must have. It is without a doubt the best way to revisit Halo and it’s timeless gameplay. However father time has definitely taken its toll on these games. Newer fans of gaming may not be able to appreciate these groundbreaking titles. Gaming has come a long way since Halo took the world by storm. I could think of plenty of titles that I would rather play today, but few I have more love and respect for
FINAL SCORE: 7.5/10