At #SDCC 2014, @Shannon and I (@Matthew) had the pleasure of catching one of the previews of Halo: The Master Chief Collection at the #Xbox Lounge. The graphics and audio updates seemed amazing, but what really connected with us was this being the ten-year anniversary for #Halo 2. That was the first game we played together and really represented finding a fun connection in our relationship. So, while this is Halo 2’s anniversary, it also represents a decade of our time together. We’ve gone through three different Xbox 360’s (one of those was caused by an angry Wii attacking from above), an Xbox One we love, two TV’s, countless games (good and bad – yes, Men in Black, we’re looking at you), and enjoying seeing our Xbox time shortened more and more as our son was born and eventually began playing.
That brings me to this evening. Thanks to a need to pay the bills, I missed the first half of the #Halo launch party, but did tune in for the Halo: Nightfall discussion. The producer mentioned that the show was premiering at 9:00, so I skipped the Twitch feed and switched over. Unfortunately, the video did not seem to be unlocked yet, but I clicked The Master Chief Collection for the heck of it and was shocked when it loaded three hours before expected (I had missed Major Nelson’s tweet)! @Shannon quickly logged in and we set out to reboot our #Halo journey. For @Shannon, it was her first time watching Master Chief thaw out and download #Cortana (Halo 2 was her first Halo); for me, it brought back memories of a very iconic game that was my entry to coop-binge-playing. It was fantastic!
From the moment the game began, the differences become obvious. The video is just more, but it’s the audio that really shines during the first chapter of repelling Covenant from the ship and rushing to the escape pod. Of course, if it’s your first time through on Xbox One, don’t expect to get any quick-completion awards. We spent way too much time switching between the new and original game engines. It’s amazing to see the difference. All of the flat textures pop to life with three-dimensional detail. The subtle lighting effects that we now take for granted become obvious when switched to the mono-lit original. Looking out windows is quite fun, where grey clouds pop into planets and that amazing and alien #Halo Ring. While we thoroughly enjoyed the ability to switch between engines, however, it doesn’t necessarily seem like something that will be used a lot after initial chapter views – of course, only time will tell with that.
All that said, don’t expect a graphics masterpiece a-la Dragon Age: Inquisition or Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The upgraded Halo: Combat Evolved looks how you remember a good game looking at the end of the Xbox 360 life cycle. Don’t be discouraged by this, though; as soon as you hear the baddies shriek, you’ll be all in with nary a thought of graphics detail. Detail quality aside, the smooth motion of 60 fps was absolutely incredible. I really didn’t expect to care much about the frame rate, but now want 6 fps in everything.