Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review

Dan Webb

HD remakes have been all the craze for the last few years or so, with publishers keen to make a bit of extra money on the side by targeting our nostalgia glands – that’s not a real gland, but it certainly feels like it. That statement is as applicable more than ever with the launch of the next generation consoles. When it comes to Microsoft specifically, they set a new standard with their “Anniversary” editions in recent years, and with the launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, they’ve only gone and set a new standard once again. It’s not all plain sailing though. Far from it.

With The Master Chief Collection, not only do gamers get to play through Halo 2 after it’s been given the Anniversary treatment, but they also get three other Master Chief games, all on one disc, and all for the price of a normal game. As far as value for money goes, it doesn’t come much better than this.

Old Johnny Master Chief has never looked so good.

343 Industries has done such a good job with Halo 2: Anniversary that it alone warrants the full price. Not only has the studio made the single-player look incredible, with all new fancy cutscenes courtesy of CG studio Blur, but the dual engine aspect of it – allowing you to switch back and forth between Anniversary and the 2004 version – not only has the old visuals, but the old vs. new audio to boot. And let me tell you, the new sounds are ever so sexual.

Then there’s the classic Halo 2: Anniversary multiplayer. As a hardened Halo 2 player, I’ve got to say I’m slightly disappointed by the fact there are only six remade maps, but other than that, it’s one hell of a nostalgic orgasm. It’ll take a while to adjust to the lack of sprint, but that’s not a bad thing at all. If I had to nitpick, I’d say that choosing Wizard (now called Warlock) and Sanctuary (now called Shrine) over Ivory Tower, Midship and Beaver Creek is almost criminal. The cynical person in me can’t help but think they’re being saved for DLC.

Outside of Halo 2: Anniversary, you can play through the single-player campaigns in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 3 and Halo 4, as well as jumping into their accompanying multiplayer. All three games hold up really well on next-gen platforms – Halo 4 still looks amazing – and benefit from the new engine that upscales them to 1080p at 60fps adding a gorgeous new lighting engine and what not to the games too. All of them are available to play in co-op as well, both split-screen and online.

"Whaddaya mean he's behind me?".

In terms of multiplayer, because let’s be honest, that’s what it’s all about, there are no Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary maps, which is an odd choice. But all of the other maps are thankfully present and correct. All of the usual options are there as well, from custom matches and Forge, to theater and the usual matchmaking gubbins. Well… we’ll get to that in a minute. It’s even got the old classic levelling system from way back when.

At the current time of writing, however, Halo: The Master Chief Collection's matchmaking is a car crash. We’ve essentially been sitting on this review for well over a week now while 343 has strived to get its shit together, but that hasn’t happened, and we couldn’t wait any longer to publish our thoughts. While players can still play custom games, the matchmaking for all intents and purposes is useless. Over the last ten days I’ve spent hours trying to get a game, only managing to play two. It’s a shame, as otherwise, the entire package would undoubtedly be an amazing experience.

Twin SMGs. Double your fun.

That’s not all you get though, folks. Further beneath the hood there’s Halo: Nightfall, the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta – which will take place between December and January – the Halo Channel, Forge, and 450 achievements. Yes, 450!

Judging all 450 is an impossible task, for sure, because while there might be the grindy achievements in there, there’s also plenty of clever and interesting ones too… not to mention the mammoth ones, like completing all Halo campaigns on Legendary in under three hours. Jeez. If you want all 4,500, good luck. It’ll be fun, but it’ll take a ridiculous amount of time.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection, at this current time of writing is effectively a star football player who’s currently holed up in bed with a broken leg. A singer with laryngitis. A pianist with a broken hand. The potential is there, but it’s not being realised. It will mend, and the pianist can play with his other hand – which in this particular analogy are the campaigns and the custom games – but until it’s fixed, we can’t in all consciousness rate it as highly as we otherwise would have.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is still a great game and incredible package stuffed with a remarkable amount of content, but the broken matchmaking is a blight on what would have been an easy recommendation.


Marty O’Donnell’s score is as epic as ever and the new sounds for Halo 2: Anniversary are quite brilliant.

Everything in 1080p all running at 60fps. Halo has never looked so good.

It’s Halo. What more can we say?

Four games, the Halo Channel, Halo: Nightfall and the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer beta. It’s just a shame that the matchmaking is broken. Britney Spears broken.

There’s 450 of them. That’s 4,500 Gamerscore. Some are great, some are good, some are decent, some are insane. Some are generic, sure, but did you not hear? THERE’S 450 OF THEM!!

I was ready to sit here and claim that Halo: The Master Chief Collection is the true definition of value for money, but the broken matchmaking effectively ruins what would have been an amazing package. The campaign stuff is still ace, as are the custom games, but the matchmaking issues have completely tarnished what would have been an indispensable Halo experience.

[Note: Once the matchmaking issues are sorted – if, they’re sorted – we will revisit this review and re-score the game]

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