Every so often a game comes along that changes everything. Games like Doom, Super Mario Brothers and Half-Life aren't just incredible games in their own right - they helped shape the gaming industry as a whole. Halo: Combat Evolved is one such title. As a game, Halo evolved and refined the first person shooter, making it work on a console like never before. As a product, it helped define the first generation Xbox and help Microsoft become the juggernaut of today and, as a project, it lifted its creator, Bungie, into the history books as one of the most revered developers of all time.
It's been nearly seven months since the troubled launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. November 11th 2014 marks the day that Halo fans everywhere were left out in the cold when the game hobbled out of the gate with serious functionality problems. While a number of other high profile releases shipped with nasty bugs, The Master Chief Collection is perhaps the most infamous of all. This is Halo we're talking about, after all. It's the most important franchise in Microsoft's stable. As good as the campaigns are, it's the series' multiplayer action that has kept fans playing for more than a decade now. Unfortunately, while the single-player modes were generally excellent, The Master Chief Collection was simply not fit for purpose when it came to online multiplayer.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is just hitting stores now and while we've already served up some in-depth impressions, it's fair to say that the sheer scale and scope of the project means that there's still a lot of specific detail we want to share with you about the game. Perhaps more than most other remaster projects we've played, The Master Chief Collection stands as an incredibly ambitious project, consisting of multiple game engines designed across multiple generations by many different teams. Bringing it all together into one solid package is clearly an undertaking of epic proportions - and while it's not (and probably never could be) the ultimate compilation that will please every fan, the bottom line is that the end result works very well.
Four major Halo remasters are included in The Master Chief Collection, but the Halo 2 Anniversary Edition is quite the package itself - a fitting tribute to a classic game celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Saber Interactive returns from Halo Anniversary duties to handle the re-mastered campaign, while Certain Affinity, formed by ex-Bungie employee Max Hoberman, is tasked with remaking six of the game's multiplayer maps. On top of that, Blur Studio has recreated key cut-scenes as high-end CG renders, while 343 Industries facilitates the whole project. So what we have here is one game featuring three engines and four developers - five if you factor in Bungie's work on the original game. What could have been a disjointed mismatch of elements is anything but: the results are remarkable and the package is a significant leap over what was achieved with the original Halo's Anniversary release on Xbox 360.
UPDATE 5/11/14 17:15: Microsoft's Halo: The Master Chief Collection NDA has been adjusted, allowing us to show you more campaign video from each of the compilation's component games. We've got 60fps capture of each of the stages, and that includes a Halo 2 level that demonstrates the quality of the remaster.
There aren't a huge number of people still playing Halo online. Franchise custodians 343 know this. And ahead of the launch of Halo 5: Guardians, potentially the biggest Xbox One exclusive yet, it's time to do something about it.