I still can't believe Halo: The Master Chief Collection exists. This ambitious Xbox One game coming in November puts some of the best Halo games money can buy onto a single disc. This mighty stockpile of first-person shooter games stretches back through two prior hardware generations. It updates four classic Halo games to a solid 60 frames-per-second. HD remakes quietly came and went before Halo: MCC, but in my mind this one stands out as the best because of the sheer quality and volume.
After a brief look at Halo 3's first playable mission, Sierra 117, fellow IGN editor Alfredo Diaz and I put updated versions of Halo 2's vintage multiplayer maps Zanibar, Ascension, Sanctuary, and Lockout to the test. The end result shouldn't come as a surprise: Halo 2's multiplayer feels as fresh as it did 10-years ago, and it harkens to a bygone era before RPG-like leveling systems and custom perk loadouts changed the face of FPS games for good.
Vintage is the new modern in Halo: MCC thanks to a noticeable facelift. I could see dust particles rolling off of rocks in Ascension, a deadly battleground that sets up two towers as prime real estate for expert snipers. I watch Alfredo post up at the smaller tower, and I can hear his giddy laughter over the booming digital explosions. By lining up quick precision shots, he helps hold our lead over the opposing Red team.
As I rush off in search of the handy Rocket Launcher, I steal a moment to really take in the great visuals of this remake. The arena itself has tons of new details, like the way the rotating center structure lights up at random intervals. The Spartan avatars look extremely polished, with highlights and details that look better than even Halo 3's high-definition look from seven years ago.
The same exquisite details are noticeable in Zanzibar and Sanctuary too. The waterfalls at the symmetrical ends of Sanctuary almost completely hide crafty soldiers looking to escape return fire. The sandy outer wall of Zanzibar has lots of tiny details like graffiti. The updated graphics add texture to everything from rocks to stationary palm trees.
The base on the other side of Zanzibar looks ancient, but also serviceable. The metal grates and hallways are a pristine vision of a game I remember, but it never really looked this good did it? Halo 2 was one of the best looking video games of 2004. But certain areas looked too shiny, as if they were slathered in digital Crisco cooking oil back then. The remade Halo 2 maps are Crisco free in 2014 and show off a breathtaking level of detail.
We end our multiplayer map tour of Lockout, but I already played that one at PAX. I consider Lockout as the crown jewel of Halo maps, a multiplayer space full of chokepoints expertly designed around conflict. Midway through that match, I think I heard Alfredo swoon out loud after stringing together enough enemy kills for a spree. Clearly, his unbridled enthusiasm alone should be a sign that the development team nailed what they set out to do.
I remember most of these maps have been remade for Halo games before. Zanzibar was also a Halo 3 map called Last Resort. Lockout became Blackout in another DLC pack. But what I witness in Halo: MCC outdoes anything I saw before. The look and feel of each location stands out substantially. You can still play those remakes as part of Halo 3, but the new ones outdo them both. Halo: MCC's ambitious package isn't something to write-off. The dream of revisiting Halo 2's excellent online multiplayer is almost here and it's pretty darn impressive.
Sourced Via IGN