Halo: The Master Chief Collection: It’s a Halo aloha

November 25, 2014


When we got Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary three years ago, it was generally accepted that Halo 2 wouldn’t be far behind. As one of the most successful games of the previous generation, it was generally accepted that a similar remake was on the way. Microsoft delivered more than just that, though, in The Master Chief Collection, with all four Halo titles in one box.

The version of Combat Evolved in the collection isn’t all that special. It’s largely an exact copy of what we got in Anniversary, though with one important addition: the multiplayer of the original works as it did then, but now features the ability to play online. Yes, this does include rubber Warthogs in Blood Gulch and all of the other maps and modes you remember from the early 2000s, without the need to haul all those Xboxes and CRTs into your mom’s basement for LAN play.


The big addition in this package is, of course, Halo 2. It has been given the full Anniversary treatment, right down to the ability to shift the visuals between old and new on the fly. The cutscenes are also very well done, and make it well worth a replay of the campaign.  It’s quite clear that 343 spared no expense in remaking them and used all of the resources available.  As far as the campaign goes, the ending is a lot more palatable when you consider that Halo 3 isn’t several years and a new console away, but it’s still a bit jarring.

Halo 3 and Halo 4 are both practically identical to their Xbox 360 iterations, but with one major change: every game in this pack runs at 60 frames per second. This is especially noticeable in Halo 4, which was sped up a lot compared to previous games in order to feel more like other shooters on the market. Being able to go back and forth between this and Halo 1-2 makes me realize that, outside of the nostalgia factor, each entry improved on the formula.

It’s easier to move, easier to shoot and, honestly, it just feels more fun to move that much faster, because you don’t spend as much time traversing the map. I could spend a while lamenting that everything gradually becomes more like Call of Duty, but honestly that kind of shooting is just more fun. It’s still Halo, though; you’ve still got shields and it takes a bit to get a kill, as per usual.


While I’ve noticed a marked decrease in the number of people talking about achievements and gamerscore, it is nice that the pack retains the full 1,000 from each game. It’s no longer about talking up your accomplishments, but there’s something special about having those feats recognized the way it was initially, even if it is just a number. There are also about 500 points worth of achievements specific to the collection, mostly related to online play and using cross-game playlists.

As many have noticed, the initial release of this pack was plagued with matchmaking issues. Players would get stuck waiting for games, or would get preemptively booted back to the menu. Over the first week, roughly 90 percent of these problems disappeared, thanks to reducing the playlists and thorough patches. When matchmaking is working, using playlists is a lot of fun, and switching between game physics can be a bit interesting to get used to. Being able to sort games based on play style and map aspects is compelling, like picking a list of vehicle maps or limiting a playlist to classic or modern styles. You hop between games about as fast as it takes to load the map, though I have noticed loading between multiplayer maps being a bit long. Campaign loading is fairly seamless, as it was intially. Also, there’s no getting away from the giant 15-gigabyte patch if you want to play online at all, making this a bit awkward for people with usage caps or anything less than a cable connection.


The Master Chief Collection is a must-have for serious Halo fans and releases on a platform with a relatively light library, even when considering the impressive fall lineup this year. This collection certainly contains more than enough Halo for your money, though we still hold out hope that ODST and Reach, the remaining and distinctive series entries, find their way to Xbox One someday.

Pros: All multiplayer modes intact, great-looking Halo 2 refresh
Cons: Matchmaking issues, initial patch is rather hefty

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.