Halo. Halo Halo Halo Halo Halo Halo. Halo Halo. Halo.
That’s what playing Halo: The Master Chief Collection (also available exclusively for Xbox One) feels like: just an absurd amount of Halo being thrown at you like a pie in the face. And that’s not a bad thing. Think more of a delicious apple pie being gently pressed against your face instead of a painful shaving cream pie being shoved in there and stinging your eyes. That analogy makes sense, right?
HTMCC is a Halo fanatic’s dream. The game boils all previous editions of Halo down to their essential elements, including both the complete campaigns and multiplayer of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4 Halo: Reach and Halo 3: ODST are the games missing from the collection). That’s four full campaigns and close to 100 total multiplayer maps, which is a ridiculous amount of content, even if it’s not really new. There’s also a separate Halo 2 Anniversary multiplayer mode with even more graphically-enhanced maps. Also included are the Forge modes from 3 and 4 and a new one for Halo 2 Anniversary, as well as access to the Halo online channel and Halo 4’s Spartan Ops co-op mode (which won’t launch until closer to the end of the year).
The experience of playing HTMCC is completely seamless. You’re able to play any mission from any campaign immediately (you don’t have to progress through each as you would with any individual game), all the multiplayer maps are available right away too and, perhaps coolest of all, you can go through playlists that string together various missions from the different games, with each playlist’s missions grouped by some common theme. This is a dream feature for any serious Halo fan, as you get to experience all the greatness of past games while jumping from point to point. This is something that can only happen through an anthology-type game such as HTMCC, and it’s good to see that aspect of the game is being utilized.
As of this writing, the beta multiplayer mode for Halo 5: Guardians was still missing, It won’t be released until Dec. 29 and will run through Jan. 18 (the game itself won’t be released until late 2015). Getting to play the demo likely won’t be the key in any player’s decision to ultimately buy Halo 5, and the main feature of HTMCC is obviously it being a collection of everything that’s already come out. It certainly wouldn’t make sense to drop the $60 on it if you’re just interested in the Halo channel or if you want to play the 5 demo for a couple weeks. Still, it would’ve been nice to try the demo out just to start building the excitement for the 5’s ultimate release.
HTMCC is exactly the experience you’d expect given what’s included in the game. There’s no earth-shattering new features, and the improved graphics and specs themselves probably aren’t enough of a reason to buy the game if you’re merely a casual fan of the Halo franchise. The game’s value comes in its convenience and the sheer amount of content available through one disc/download, content whose quality you’re already well aware of. If you’re a hardcore Halo fan, it makes sense to pick this up. If you aren’t, it probably doesn’t. But if you do buy it, it’s definitely a cool experience to have almost all previously-released Halo content available in an easier-to-use, more powerful machine. Few franchises, if any, can match how prolific and how high-quality Halo has proven to be, and it’s a real treat to have a collection like this available.