The Halo series is often praised as being one of the most influential game series of all time. It revolutionized console FPS and paved the way for the present-day FPS games. But as a PC player (who wasn’t around for the release of Halo 1 and 2 on PC), I had no means of playing this series. And for me, Halo was just one of the many games which were inaccessible due to the choice of my platform.
All this changed on 12th March, 2019 when Microsoft and 343 industries announced that the Halo: Master Chief Collection would be coming to PC through Steam. This got me excited to experience this acclaimed franchise for the first time.
The release of the games was scheduled to be one at a time starting from December of 2019 with Halo: Reach. I will be documenting my experience of all the games and give my opinion about them. And how those opinions might have evolved through time.
Halo : Reach
This is a weird place to start in retrospective. But Reach is a fine game with a lot to like.
Playing Halo: Reach’s campaign without the context of the other titles behind had me confused not curious. It was my first time experiencing the Halo sandbox and it was interesting. The campaign had great pacing. The combat encounters felt very unique in an enjoyable way. All the set pieces were unique ranging from a huge battlefield to active space combat.
It was a fun enough first experience but not really one that hooked me. In my opinion, the characters felt flat and boring with each of their sacrifice not really affecting me much. And the story was serviceable, only really kicking off with Halsey giving Cortana to the Noble team. Until then the story felt like it only existed in order to connect all these great set pieces. The campaign made more sense when I replayed it after all the other Bungie-made halo games but my criticism about it still stands.
The multiplayer was fun but nothing special for me. I had my fun with it but never really got into it that much. Firefight was ok…i have nothing more to say about it.
Overall it was a fun experience with a very well paced campaign and fun multiplayer.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Many are probably going to disagree with my opinions On Halo: CE but I did not enjoy it.
OK, here we go. I understand that Halo was the first console FPS without any obvious downsides to it. The game has many people who grew up with it nostalgic about it. All this does not change my opinion on the game being exhaustingly repetitive.
All this does not mean that Halo: CE Combat Evolved has no merits. It has a great atmosphere that remains unmatched in the series. For that, I recommend playing with the original graphics. Its combat loop is fun and engaging and all the guns feel great to use against the Covenant. The characters are fun and I like the banter between them. But all this is dragged down by repetitive level design. Along with bad pacing of the levels and the second half the game almost just being backtracking through the first levels.
I like the concept of the Flood but I think the combat arenas featuring them become a bit repetitive and all this repetitiveness is encapsulated with the level Library. All this leads to the game having really bad pacing in my opinion. One thing to note is that the last level, The Maw, was really fun and a banger of an ending. But it did not redeem the rest of the game for me. And the music is impecable.
For me the multiplayer was more enjoyable than that of Halo: Reach. This was just a stripped-down version of Halo’s multiplayer with its only mechanics being guns, melee and grenades. The pistol is overpowered and the grenades are essentially mini-nukes. But it still was really fun.
Overall, I did not enjoy the campaign, had fun with the multiplayer and it made me weary of the future games.
Halo 2 Anniversary
This is where I feel in love with Halo.
Halo 2 is awesome. I was skeptical going into this from Halo: CE but Halo 2 blew me away. It is exciting, fun, and varied. The story is more interesting as we also saw the perspective of the enemy with the Arbiter. The combat encounters are now more wave-based than moving through copy-paste environments. And as mentioned with Reach, Halo 2 has unique levels which flow beautifully into each other. Dual wielding is awesome. Also unlike the previous entry where the remaster is a bit clunky, Halo anniversary is still a beautiful-looking game. And for me it has something many games I play struggle with…great pacing. And all this is supported by a fun cast of characters with Sergeant Johnson, Cortana, Miranda, Master Chief, and Arbiter. All of them have great chemistry and have fun dialog just like in its predecessor.
I have replayed the game from start to end at least 7 times in varying difficulties and it was almost always very fun. Metropolis and Uprising are levels I can replay anytime. The only faults that I can say the game has are its difficulty on Legendary, which is too unfair in my opinion, and the fact that the end of Halo 2 feels abrupt, like the game still has at least 2 more levels. This seemingly was indeed the case as Bungie were in a time crunch. Still, it is a great game with a lot of replay value. This is the game that made me a fan of the series and more excited about its critically acclaimed follow-up. I do not need to say anything about the music… it’s just so good in both the classic and anniversary versions.
Interestingly enough, in terms of multiplayer this game comes with two modes. One is the classic multiplayer, which is a basic port, and another that’s a complete remake with reworked maps and a new feel available in the anniversary version. I really like the classic Halo 2 multiplayer, it really clicked with me, and I started playing it a lot. The anniversary multiplayer was fun but I prefer the original.
In the end as stated before this is the game that me a fan.
Halo 3 is a great and satisfying conclusion to the first trilogy.
As I was waiting for Halo 3 I tried my best to not look up what happens in the game as I was excited for it. And all I saw were the near-perfect reviews which only got me even more excited. After all that, I played the game….and it was fine. Not that I hated it, I liked it a lot, but I did not love it like I did Halo 2. H3 is a game that is an interesting combination of both of its predecessors. It is more open and sandbox-oriented with its enemy placement like Halo, which as mentioned has waves of enemies. At the same time, it tries to incorporate the pacing of Halo 2 which I do not think is completely successful at.
Baring that, Halo 3 still carries the fun characters of the previous two games but it can be seen that these characters are now a bit more melodramatic when comparing them to the previous games. I do concede that this change matches the story of the game. But the enemies were significantly changed as now we are fighting only the brutes but they act the same as the Elites. The Flood are the best that they have ever been. And finally, the last Warthog run of Halo 3 was heart-pounding and one of the best levels that I have ever played. This game was a well-earned and satisfyingly ending to the trilogy.
This was the time when I poured hours into the multiplayer. Halo 3’s sandbox works so goddamn well in multiplayer. Even though the hit registration was a bit off, I came to the game over and over again just for the multiplayer.
Halo 3 was a fun and satisfying end to the trilogy, leaving it open enough to explore new things for the future. Along with that it has a satisfying and well balanced multiplayer
Halo 3 ODST
My Personal Favorite Halo game has no halo in it.
OK, this might be not the case for everyone but I adore Halo 3: ODST. It is not a drastic change from Halo 3 itself in terms of gameplay. There are just minor changes to movement speed and the removal of dual-wielding.
The game is set in New Mombasa during Halo 2. And It follows a group of ODST Soldiers with a nebulous mission. They all get disbanded due to the Ships jumping as we see in Halo 2. And for the most part, we take control of “The Rookie” roaming through the dark streets of New Mombasa as beautiful jazz music plays through it. We discover clues regarding our other teammates which act like mission selections and these missions are shorter than Halo 3’s grand missions. In my opinion, they play beautifully like short samples of Halo fun, coated around a, atmospheric mission select hub world.
It had Firefight with which I barely interacted with but found it fun the few times I played it. For me, one of the main aspects of this game is its music from Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. It is so damn good.
The story itself about discovering and protecting a living supercomputer is ok at best. And the romance between Dare and Buck is underdeveloped. But as mentioned before, this is my favorite Halo game. Its smaller well-paced mission and the setting of The Rookie on the ground discovering the story with us just drew me in more than anything else. It may not be the case for everyone but that just hooked me.
Ehh….its not that Bad.
Halo 4 was the first game made by 343 Industries and it takes a very interesting approach. Before I go I would recommend reading this article by Dan Waterman as I echo a lot of the same thoughts. The one thing I wanna talk about is the fact that the story tries to humanize Master Chief unlike the older games. It is interesting but the story of forerunners is a complete mess. The game was trying to be more like its contemporaries but at the same time stick to its roots as a game in its series. One thing I gotta give 343 credit for is the guns feeling way way better than ain any of its predecessors. Also, the game looks beautiful.
The multiplayer is interesting as it tries to work in a load-out system to Halo which I do not think works. But it is still very fun to play and retains most of the other strengths of its predecessors.
It has many positives and overall Halo 4 adds up to a good game. But it’s just not as good in comparison to the other games in its series.
The Future of the MCC and my Thoughts
Even after the release of Halo 4 on PC on Nov 4th, the MCC did not stop updating the collection with new stuff. This includes new armors and shaders with a new Season Pass with Seasons 5.
And this seemingly will be expanding more with the upcoming seasons. Now season 6 is set on bringing new stuff like new maps (from Halo online) along with a custom game browser. And more excitingly for the future mod tools. I do not mod but have seen modders do crazy stuff with other games so I am excited.
Since the release of Halo: Reach on PC I have put about 400 hours into these games. It has been a journey for me playing this series. I am happy that I finally got to experience the series so many people love and cherish. It was not a journey where I loved every moment of it but a journey where I found new games to love and discuss.