Halo Master Chief Collection Review: Finish The Game
If you told any gamer one year ago that Microsoft would release a collection of the first four Halo games, updated with improved graphics for their next-generation console, no one would have believed you. Four fantastic, classic games for the price of one, complete with all the modes, maps in the original games sounded too good to be true. At E3 earlier this year Microsoft announced Halo: The Master Chief Collection and after six months of anticipation, it is finally here. Turns out it really was too good to be true.
Let’s start with the positives. The Master Chief Collection brings Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 to the Xbox One. The game runs at 1080p with fully revamped graphics for Halo 2 Anniversary, with the visuals in the other Halo games improved as well. As far as playing these four excellent campaigns alone the game gets the job done.
Everything from these games is lovingly remastered, even decade old exploits made the cut. Halo still is one of the most purely enjoyable first person shooters on the market and each of these games have aged well. There are some dated aspects of the game but the level design, enemy AI, soundtrack and pacing are still near the top in the industry.
Years later, Halo one through four are still some of the best shooters you can play in all of gaming.
Unfortunately there are too many flaws to overlook. Split-screen multiplayer, both competitive and co-operative play, suffer from frame rate issues offline. The frame rate can drop significantly without warning, hindering the experience tremendously since Halo requires quick reflexes and well-timed shots. Playing the co-operative campaign modes online is another nightmare altogether.
Several attempts to play the campaigns online with friends ended in curse-inducing frustration as the action would lag consistently, coming to a crawl on more than one occasion. One of the best parts of the Halo series was how it consistently delivered a co-operative campaign mode both offline and online. Offline co-op will require patience with frame rate issues but online co-op is nearly unplayable.
Sadly the problems do not end here. Matchmaking for competitive play is entirely broken. Players are left waiting for far too long to find matches, with waits taking 10-30 minutes if you aren’t lucky. Not only that but users are often matched into uneven teams when matchmaking does work, stuck in a 6 versus 2 match of Team Slayer. In addition to this, some modes are missing or overly difficult to get running. Halo games typically get new modes and content for free after release so its hard to hold that against 343 right now but its still disappointing.
The party system, which is supposed to keep you and your friends together, doesn’t work as expected either. Friends will randomly disappear from your party, other times the game won’t allow you to leave a party at all. In addition to these issues, Halo suffers from crashing issues. This has to be the buggiest game released for the Xbox One so far with players facing a laundry list of issues that are still not fixed over a week later.
343 Industries released a patch this week that was supposed to fix the game’s matchmaking issues at the least as well as other problems. The 1.4GB download does appear to fix anything, with matchmaking woes still present. I spent over 30 hours with The Master Chief Collection before the patch and have spent another half dozen with it. Matchmaking seems marginally improved but still far from where it should be.
Despite the game having unending potential, it is a broken, unfinished mess so far. How Microsoft didn’t see these issues pre-release is baffling, especially for their flagship franchise that is supposed to help turn around the Xbox One’s so-so sales. Simply put, The Master Chief Collection is not worth your money today nor should 343/Microsoft be rewarded for releasing such a flawed product.
In a month’s time Halo may be in better shape, where it should have been from day one. That’s even more reason to pass on this would-be legendary collection until the kinks are worked out. If you dig deep enough and have patience, The Master Chief Collection can be fun but the cons far outweigh the pros. Take Master Chief’s advice Microsoft, finish the fight.
Halo MCC should be an easy sell for FPS fans. When it works it can be a blast but frame rate/lag issues during offline and online co-op, party system problems, horrendous matchmaking, campaign glitches and a few missing features/modes keep this collection from being what fans want it to be. Over 30 hours played with a mix of campaign, matchmaking and co-op before and after the recent 1.4GB patch.