Months, no, years of hope went into the expectation of an eventual Halo 2 Anniversary, and after the shortcomings of Halo 4, 343i needed to earn some much needed respect back. The unveiling of the Master Chief Collection sent my hopes soaring, my favorite trilogy of games all, on a brand new console able to be accessed from a single, unified interface almost seemed magical, awe-inspiring…
And downright impossible.
343i, I’m not saying you did a bad job, in fact what you managed to pull off with the MCC is downright impressive, coupled with full multiplayer support, 100+ multiplayer maps and game modes and how absolutely stunning the Halo 2 remaster sounds and looks just makes this the complete package, for old long time fans such as myself looking for a nostalgia hit and to newcomers to the series looking for a new universe to dive into, I was genuinely impressed with what you managed to pull off.
Then I started playing.
At first it was harmless enough, after waiting an hour and a half for the install to finish i jumped right into Halo 2 to start drooling all over my controller at how pretty Master Chiefs’ left hand was, and I was loving it all the way through, aside from a small crash on Delta Halo wherein I reloaded my sniper rifle and the game kicked me out, but hey, nothings perfect, i can deal with a crash every now and then.
Things got a little bit more angsty once i gritted my teeth through the cut-and-paste level design and cliffhanger ending that still makes me very, very angry 10 years later, and hopped into the multiplayer. I had heard about the matchmaking woes and was expecting some delay or slight lag, and i didn’t mind, being an OCE region gamer I’m used to 200+ MS. 15 -Yoink- minutes of searching later, finally found a game for Team BRs on Lockout, “Sweet” I thought, “one of my favorites.” And oh my lord did -Yoink- go sideways, first of all it was 2 v 6. Well, that long a search time I wasn’t about to leave the game, and not to blow my own whistle but I am rather competent at Halo, and put up a decent fight, only losing by a 15 point margin, amidst a flurry of lag spikes, de-sync, and a full disconnect at one point. Needless to say, I reasoned with myself that I’ll return to future-space-soldier-death-fun land when the server issues have been fixed, or at least until they shut down the dedicated servers and switch to a peer-to-peer system used in the old games until the severs are repaired.
Moving back to my single player adventures, I glanced over the playlists and saw the Holy Grail of Halo, the 45 mission Master Chief Saga, all 4 games back to back, and just cancelled everything I had planned for the next week. So, loading up Halo 1, buckled down and was ready and eager to punch out an Elites entire blood supply with one jab to the jaw. It was going great, I was blazing though on Heroic, knowing each level layout like the back of my hand, and upon finding the mysterious Halo arrays control room, finishing the level, watching the awkward anniversary animations and then see myself be teleported by Guilty Spark right into the flood infested Library.
Wait, what? did it just skip my favorite mission? are you serious?! Yes, it did. Upon realising it had missed and entire mission, I left the game and checked the playlist, and the mission in question had been marked off as completed as sure as little Timmy at Sunday Mass. Honestly I was bewildered, then angry, the resigned, that was the big playlist man, THE playlist, you couldn’t possibly have missed that bug or glitch with the -Yoink- saga playlist.
Just biting my tongue, I pressed on, finishing 1 and then 2 with no hassle after that point, until I got to 3, when it wouldn’t even load the -Yoink- game. The loading screen for Sierra 117 would come up for a split second then cut the the default MCC loading screen, then move back to the menu. Thinking this was a glitch, I tried to resume the playlist with the same results a second time. Then a third. Then a fourth. Then a fifteenth. I can allow a little bit of leeway here and there, I would presume switching game engines on the fly is an extremely twitchy and delicate operation, but this problem should have been rectified early on seeing as the playlists are one of the core features of the whole Collection. So, giving up on the playlist I moved to 3 as a standalone campaign with no hassle, errors, or crashes, lovely.
Later that day I get a message from a friend wanting to test out the Anniversary forge maps, seeing as I build a test-like sandbox map in each forge mode, I accepted the offer and invited my friend to join my lobby and engage in forge festivities, and here another problem arose, the Xbox Live invites refused to connect the player 100%, and upon seemingly entering the party and loading the game, it crashed to the dashboard. Half an hour later the person manages to fully connect via manually joining the party uninvited for the 8th time and we go about our business. Again, a problem that should of been rectified pre-launch. Earlier today the same problem persisted trying to load Gravemind on Halo 2, the friend of mine was saying that the game forcibly saved and quit mid mission and did not checkpoint, so the level was restarting upon hitting resume. After contacting me for help, managing to set up a lobby, disabling skulls I had active and trying to load the game, surprise surprise it crashed. How did ANY of these issues manage to make it past testing? Yes I understand you had a deadline to meet, this was a massively ambitious project, but Jesus Christ you need to compensate for the scope of the game with thorough, vigorous and diligent testing with the intention of breaking the game so the devs can iron these issues out.
Here is a TL:DR and List of the errors I have encountered:
- Small crash on Delta Halo reloading a sniper rifle- Multiplayer search times are insane, team auto balancing clearly not working, huge lag spikes- The Master Chief Saga Playlist skips level 6 of Halo 1, “343 Guilty Spark”, still registers as a completed level- Master chief Saga will not continue into Halo 3, although this problem seemed to have fixed itself- Halo 2 Level “Gravemind” forcibly saves and quits, making you restart the level (citation needed)- Xbox Live group invites do not actually enter players into the party, more like a pseudo version of them is ghosted in and upon loading a custom, campaign or forge map the game crashes to the dashboard, happens to aforementioned “Gravemind” level, but manged to load “Delta Halo” just fine the previous day
This collection of games has forced me through the 7 stages of grief, yet I still love it, but 343i please, please, PLEASE get to work on crushing these bugs and errors, they really mar this otherwise lovely, amazing and beautiful piece of work.