Halo: The Master Chief Collection review for Xbox One [Updated]

Platform: Xbox One
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: 343 Industries
Medium: Blu-ray / Digital
Players: 1-16
Online: Yes

Update: Grade and multiplayer thoughts added.

You’ll be hard pressed to find better value in a single video game package this year than what you’ll get with Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One. Featuring Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2: Anniversary, Halo 3, and Halo 4, along with extra content bridging the gap between Halo 4 and 5, and access to the upcoming Halo 5 multiplayer beta.

Of the four games featured on disc, Halo 2 has been considerably overhauled, with redone cutscenes that look outstanding, along with remastered in-game textures and character models that bring this entry more in line with the other three titles. Just like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, you can switch between the original audio/visuals of Halo 2 at any time, which allows you to really appreciate the great work 343 has done with this remaster. All four games run at 60 frames per second, with very few exceptions to that rule. I have experienced a few technical issues, primarily freezing, but that’s only occurred a handful of times and it was thankfully temporary, not requiring a reboot.

TMCC-Halo-2-Anniversary-Regret-BlockheadsOne aspect to this collection that I really appreciate is the ability to revisit any chapter of any game at any time. You can select freely from all missions for each of the four titles, without needing to finish a campaign or go through some sort of unlocking process. The same goes for Skulls, all of which are available from the get go, so you can mess around with various modifiers right from the start. Considering how loved and often-played this series is by fans, the ability to just jump in and play what you want, when you want, is worth praising.

Another neat component is the Campaign Playlist, with various unique playlists for all four titles. There’s even a playlist that provides a mix of all four campaigns. Single titles, like Halo 2, will feature playlists that divide up the Arbiter sections of the game from the Master Chief. It’s a neat addition that goes hand-in-hand with the leaderboard functionality.

TMCC-Halo-2-Anniversary-Cinematic-RevelationsWhile Halo 2 has been overhauled for the collection, the other three titles have only seen minor touch-ups. Granted, Halo 3 and 4 didn’t need a lot of work done, and I think you’ll be pretty amazed with how great both games look here. Considering Halo 3 is 7 years old, I think it holds its own quite well here. Halo 4 certainly benefits from being the baby of the bunch, and looks right at home on Xbox One in comparison to other new-gen titles. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is the only game of the three that looks a bit out of place. The U.I. looks downright ugly compared to the remastered Halo 2, and visually it doesn’t do much to wow the player. I think Anniversary was a pretty huge step-up from the Xbox original when it first released, but it pales in comparison to the other three Halo titles.

TMCC-UI-Halo-2-Anniversary-Mission-PlaylistsBasically, if you enjoy the Halo series for its campaign, you can’t go wrong here. This is a fantastic collection of four great games, and I would be hard-pressed to point out any glaring issues. However, this review won’t be complete until we’re able to sample the online multiplayer. As of around 6 pm EST on 11/6 I haven’t been able to get into that component of the game. The Day 1 patch, clocking in at 15GB, is live. I’ve downloaded it, successfully I believe, but I’ve found the game constantly hangs up on the installation process. Until this kink gets worked out, I’m unable to play the MP side of this collection. And because of that we’ll obviously withhold a review score. I’ll hopefully be able to update this review soon enough, and we’ll be sure to notify everyone via Twitter and Facebook when things change. But for now, I’ll say the campaign side of this collection is fantastic, and here’s hoping the MP side holds up too.

Review Update:
So, here’s the updated side of my review for Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

Multiplayer is pretty busted.

Matchmaking specifically, but other aspects of MP certainly have issues as of this writing. I know that 343 Industries has issued a statement regarding this, and that they’re currently working to fix these issues, but as of 10 or 15 minutes ago, there’s still some serious problems here.

With Matchmaking, you’ll have a real tough time finding any full game. You can’t seemingly jump into existing games, and you’ll spend 4 to 5 minutes in a lobby waiting for the player list to fill, only to see maybe 3 or 4 people join up. If you’re trying to play with a party, that party will be inexplicably split-up when joining games, even when playing split-screen.

Do I doubt that 343 will be able to fix these issues, and eventually get to a point where multiplayer will be a smooth experience for everyone? No. But for those that jumped in Day 1, took time off work, and dropped their own hard-earned cash on what they assumed would be a working product, there’s little solace in knowing that a fix is coming. We all expect the things we buy to work when we buy them, not a day, week, or month down the line. It’s unfortunate for Halo: TMCC in the sense that I think this is a pretty great collection of obviously fantastic games, but until the issues with MP are sorted out, you’re only getting half of what you paid for.

So, as of now, I’d strongly suggest holding off on picking this up. This month and last aren’t lacking in quality games to pass your time with at least, so there’s that. Hopefully, for those that bought Halo: TMCC a permanent fix comes along sooner than later, or you can get some enjoyment out of the single-player experience for the time being. But it’s certainly not fair to wait for the product you purchased to work, and because of that, I want to be sure that my review score for this retail product reflects that.

Review update #2:

I’ve been revisiting the MP side of Halo: The Master Chief Collection throughout yesterday and this morning, as 343 has rolled out server updates to improve the functionality of matchmaking and other aspects of online multiplayer. I didn’t see significant improvements yesterday, but this morning things have certainly changed.

My first attempt at the Halo 2 Anniversary playlist resulted in a nearly 10 minute wait for matchmaking. But moving on to Team Slayer I was able to secure a couple of stable games, with only a 2 to 3 minute wait. I also joined a full Big Team Battle match. Switching back to Halo 2 Anniversary I was matched with a full group in 2 minutes, but that game suddenly concluded without an actual opportunity to play. I jumped in one more time, and was able to play through a full game without issue.

Clearly, things are improving. I’ll continue to revisit the MP throughout the week and weekend, and then re-evaluate the final score come Monday.

Review update #3: As of today things have improved. I’ve jumped into Team Slayer and Halo 2 Anniversary matches with a small wait, around 2 to 3 minutes to find a full match. 343 has certainly been working to get out the server side fixes, and has even removed some playlists from the hopper in an effort to populate the more popular playlists while other fixes are incoming. There’s a patch scheduled to hit Wednesday, which ideally will fix a number of issues.

As it stands there’s still work to be done though. While I was able to get into Team Slayer and Halo 2 Anniversary, I waited around 6 minutes without a match for Halo 3 playlists. Having playlists removed is clearly a temporary solution for 343 while waiting for Wednesday’s patch, but it sucks if you were looking forward to say, Halo 4 MP in any way, shape, or form.

Again, I have little doubt that things will be ironed out, but if you picked the game up Day 1, you’re left with a product that doesn’t feel entirely complete or functional two weeks in. I’ve revisited the score, and made an adjustment, taking my initial score of C+ up to a B. MP is better, I’m able to find full matches for the most part, and not running into the weird, unbalanced team problem as often. This is the last time I’ll revisit the review however, so consider this our final grade.


Grade: B

Halo: The Master Chief Collection (Video Game)

Manufacturer:  Microsoft
ESRB Rating: 

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