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Halo: The Master Chief Collection: Unmissable

07/11/2014 15:28 GMT | Updated 07/11/2014 15:59 GMT

So it's finally here. Microsoft's solution on how to both appease an army of fans and win over a new generation has arrived in the form of the 'Master Chief Collection', all four Master Chief titles on one disk, or via one ridiculously huge download.

Where Rockstar have given their latest game a major overhaul, 343 Industries has gone one (three?) better by taking an entire history of games and updating them to a level of polish that would do the series proud on Xbox One.

While that required only a few updates to Halo 3 and 4, Halo 2 was in desperate need of some housekeeping. That means Halo 2 has been completely remastered into an 'Anniversary' edition, along with Halo 1's equivalent, plus all the framerate and resolution bumps you'd expect.

That's a big load of Game. And while we know that this is a world that's increasingly becoming digital-only, when it comes to this game we have one simple piece of advice: buy the disc.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a 45GB download, which is a massive strain on most people's internet. Add to that the 'modest' 15GB day one update and you're looking at a staggering 60GB that need to be downloaded.

It's an awful lot, and one that even our 'unlimited' internet connection struggled with over the course of a day.

Once you boot up the game you'll be greeted by the iconic Halo theme gently wafting out through the speakers, from the main menu you can then access each game.

halo master chief collection

And 343 Industries have done a great job of managing all the extra content and settings as well. Rather than split it into individual games you can access all the videos, or all the achievements and even change your multiplayer characters under one simple menu system.

The first thing we played was, of course, Halo 2. Flicking through the game selections prompts that games relevant theme music to start playing, it's a nice touch.

Now Halo 2 is arguably the most controversial of the Halo 2 games and as I've seen around, more than a few people regard it as the series' weakest.

halo 2 anniversary edition gameplay

In my opinion, they're wrong. It features arguably the best soundtrack of them all and for the time, the visuals and multiplayer were pretty much genre-defining.

343's visual prowess is under no doubt, they did a sterling job with Halo and in Halo 2 they've taken it a step further, it's seriously impressive.

Not only have textures been drastically improved to level that rivals even Halo 4 at times, but lighting, smoke, water have all been totally reimagined giving the game a spectacular new lease of life.

On top of that they've completely remastered the soundtrack so that it's now as much a sensory part of the game as the visuals. It's hard to describe how significant the audio improvements are until you press the 'options' button, instantly flicking the game between the original and the new.

Finally, 343 commissioned Blur studios to completely re-make the cutscenes from scratch while using the original audio files. The results are breathtaking.

As with Halo: CE it's difficult to judge the game on how it plays because essentially those mechanics are unchanged which means that if you didn't like the way it played then you're more often than not, still not going to like the way it plays now.

Instead this is an audio-visual evaluation and in those regards, Halo 2 stands up incredibly well.

Halo 3 and 4 have only been given minor visual updates indeed all the games have been given a 1080p 60fps boost, this is most apparent on the later games and makes them all the better for it.

This isn't just about reliving the old days though, it's as much about getting you prepared for the future which is why there are hidden easter eggs to the future Halo series dotted throughout Halo 1 and 2.

You'll also get first watch of the first episode of Halo: Nightfall, the Ridley Scott-produced TV series.

As you've probably noticed this review is as much about just listing all the things you get as it is evaluating how good they are, you really do get a lot.

Factor in all the games, all the multiplayer maps, all the bonus content and for £40, 'The Master Chief Collection' is frankly ludicrous value for money.

If you like Halo then this is a must buy. If you haven't tried Halo then this is a must buy, it's as simple as that.

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