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Games : Worth a Look
Ranking:
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Release Date: November 11th, 2014 Movie Release Year: 2014

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

Overview -

Master Chief. A simple two word military title, which up until 2001, was largely unknown to the gaming audience at large. Enter 'Halo: Combat Evolved,' not Bungie's first step up to the plate in the realm of the first person shooter, having broken ground with the acclaimed, but I'd argue still obscure, 'Marathon' series.  What was originally to be a Mac exclusive, turned cross-platform release, ended up being the face that launched half a million Xboxes (my own rough estimate given claimed sales figures). Since that initial game, the series has seen a steady release, every three years or so, with the exception of the timeframe hovering around 2010, wherein three tiles in the universe flooded the market. Of course, Microsoft has always had a growing degree of oversight on the mega franchise, and that oversight has seen the development transition from Bungie to 343 Studios and more recently, from the 360 to the Xbox One.

It's nigh impossible to try and succinctly make sense of the storyline of the series, but one figure remains a beacon throughout: Master Chief. For all the diversions and cross-media spin-offs, what brings players back to the universe is Master Chief (and personally, I'd argue Cortana). His saga, told over the course of four games, spanning over a decade, now can claim dominance on three consoles, with the release of 'Halo: The Master Chief Collection.'

OVERALL:
Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p
Audio Formats:
5.1 LPCM
Release Date:
November 11th, 2014

Video Review

Ranking:

Visually, 'The Master Chief Collection' shows a steady evolution of graphics from start to finish. 'Halo 2' and 'Halo 4' looks the best of all the games here, both running 1080p at a steady 60 frames per second.  The graphical overhaul of 'Halo 2' makes 'Halo 3' look like a minor chump and is a definite upgrade over the 'Combat Evolved Anniversary.' Lighting effects are quite noticeable as are the high-res textures and completely redeveloped cutscenes. It still doesn't feel like a native Xbox One game, but its turn of the century console hardware origins are long behind it. (Unless you click over to Classic view that is.) 'Halo 4' is absolutely stunning on the Xbox One and everything about it that worked on the 360 works even better here. The higher res textures and output make an already beautiful game look almost like it was originally designed for this console. The steady framerates are greatly appreciated and the colors pop even more this time around. 'Halo' and 'Halo 3' both look good, definitely a step-up from the 360 (you can jump back to the original Xbox graphics of 'Halo' with a button press and the disparity is breathtaking), however both still feel firmly rooted in the last-gen of gaming. The real improvement here are slightly smoother textures and the definite upgrade in framerate.

Audio Review

Ranking:

There was never an issue with the sound on any of the prior games, and that remains the case here. All four games sound amazing, with the pulsating guitar infused orchestral score remaining a common thread. Sound design is definitely more advanced in 'Halo 4' with great immersive use of surrounds and rich effects work. Voice work is top notch throughout. I'd really challenge anyone revisiting the series with this release to stop and appreciate the sound design: from the various covenant species to the unique tones of the games many vehicles, the 'Halo' world is truly a living, breathing entity.

Final Thoughts

Once multiplayer is up and running without any sizeable hiccups, I easily foresee 'Halo: The Master Chief Collection' taking its place as one of the finest releases for the Xbox One to date. That said, it's a partially complete package sold to consumers at full price. As fantastic as the campaigns are, and as intriguing as the Halo Channel appears to be, I wouldn't necessarily say it's worth $60 out the gate. I intend to continually return to multiplayer in the coming days and weeks for two reasons: one I love the 'Halo' series and multiplayer experience and two, because like the game itself, this is an incomplete review. Once multiplayer has settled itself in a firm state, this review will see a complete overhaul and final ranking set in stone. Until then, 'The Master Chief Collection' is simply worth a look.