OXCGN’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review


Anyone knows that the key to a successful collection, are what extra goodies the publisher/developer can squeeze in and charge for an affordable price. Most movie box sets have hours of commentary by actors and directors, deleted scenes, as well as various other things for fans to get excited about.

The Master Chief Collection is the epitome of a collection, featuring 4 complete single player campaigns with hundreds of achievements and hours of content. Only available on the original Xbox and Xbox 360, now all 4 campaigns are available on a single disc on the Xbox One, with multiplayer available through a 15GB download prior to the games release.

This collection is huge, and I’m not talking about the size of all the content.

This is Master Chief’s journey, and I’m glad that fans of new and old, can experience and relive what made this franchise a blockbuster hit with millions of fans around the world. To relive the journey of Spartan 117 through 4 sprawling campaigns on a mission to stop a genocidal alien race called the Covenant, is nothing short of epic.

Accessibility within a collection of this magnitude is key, and 343 Industries have done an outstanding job to not only make it look gorgeous, but easy to navigate. Seamlessly navigating the menus, players can access all 4 campaigns as well as multiplayer, achievements, customisation options, medal, leaderboards, and a whole lot more.

From the moment one inserts their disc into the Xbox One, every single mission from each campaign is available and I commend 343 for doing this, as it allows players to either start from scratch or enjoy their favourite level. For newcomers, they can enjoy everything Halo has to offer them.

Players can seamlessly choose to play which mission they desire, and equip any of the games Skulls which act as modifiers to increase difficulty, score multipliers and fun. In the many ViDoc’s that Bungie done during their time promoting each Halo game they always spoke about the “Combat Loop”.

“In Halo 1, there was maybe 30 seconds of fun that happened over and over and over and over again. And so, if you can get 30 seconds of fun, you can pretty much stretch that out to be an entire game.” Half-Minute Halo: An Interview with Jaime Griesemer

Skulls add to this famous combat loop, and players wishing to perform LASO runs through each campaign will be in heaven. They can choose it directly from the Playlists, which are specific missions that 343 have mustered up sprawling all 4 campaigns. Players can choose to play ‘Guilt Pleasure” which only features every level with a Guilty Spark or “Arbiter’s Journey” featuring only missions with the Arbiter from Halo 2. It’s definitely a nice touch for players to experience the most epic of scenarios within the Halo series.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

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Halo: Combat Evolved revolutionized the first person shooter on consoles and did what no other shooter could replicate since Goldeneye 64 on the N64. It brought staples to the genre such as a limit on carrying weapons, health kits, shields and tight controls for both driving and shooting.

Combat Evolved has already received the anniversary treatment but seeing how each game runs and at 1080p and 60fps, this version actually runs a lot smoother the it did on the Xbox 360. There’s not much else that’s been changed or added to this version, so don’t expect it to really be much different. But alas, this is the game that started it all, and boy is it difficulty on Legendary. Games of today feature many little additions that not only enhance gameplay but make it easier.

This is pure twitch shooting on a console, and even though level design is extremely outdated, the game still holds up quite nicely, especially when it comes to Legendary difficulty.

There’s no drop in frames, and when the action ramps up everything is smooth.

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Halo 2: Anniversary

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Halo 2: Anniversary though, is what most gamers will be buying The Master Chief Collection (MCC) for. Reliving the thrilling campaign which introduced new gameplay features never really witnessed in a console shooter. Hijacking Ghosts whilst enemies rode them around, dual wielding various one handed weapons such as the SMG and the over powered needler, as well as that now infamous ending cutscene.

Everything the way that you remember it is here, and in glorious 1080P at 60FPS.

Halo 2: Anniversary features the game completely remastered to take advantage of the Xbox One’s hardware and boy, does it look gorgeous. Character models from Master Chief, Miranda Keyes, Cortana, Brutes, Grunts etc… all look spectacular for a game that’s 10 years old. When eyeing a Brute up close you can notice the amount of detail that 343 have put into its model. You can now see individual strains of fur on Brutes, and it does actually make for a more thrilling experience.

It’s a huge feat that they have managed to replicate from Combat Evolved. Whilst it may not be as big of a graphical leap from the original Halo 2, you can definitely see the limitation the original Xbox had and what the hardware of the Xbox One has been able to produce.

Audio has also received an update with a lot more environmental sounds happening at any given moment. When switching to original graphics, players can notice the barren emptiness in hallways and open rooms in most levels. In anniversary mode, enemies are more consistent shouting and screaming at your where about, enemy movement can be heard in the distance, human AI where applicable, are shooting enemies calling out to one another and the orchestral soundtrack is in full force.

It really helps to build a much more engaging action adventure with so much happening on the screen.

Players may find that some new audio enhancements are a little to different to how they were originally and find that a little off-putting. Users found the Energy Sword to sound too different and not as brutal as it once did, with the addition of 60 FPS, meaning that the Covenant Carbine was extremely over powered with a quick trigger finger. Unfortunately players cannot mix and match between original and remastered, if one was to enjoy the remastered graphics with the audio enhancement unfortunately they’re out of luck.

Switching between modes is flawless however, and unlike Halo: CE, Halo 2 has received updated cutscenes thanks to Blur technology. When viewing the opening cutscene players can notice that cutscenes which are visually appealing do indeed create a much more engaging story. Switching to original graphics and one can see just how bad the game actually looks whilst not giving the player a real incentive to watch them apart from propelling the story forward. Now seeing character models pre-rendered even though some do look awkward is simply amazing and makes you more engaged with the story.

Prior to the update, H2:A did feature some game breaking bugs where not only would enemies glitch through the map, but Grunt Birthday Party would drastically drop the frames per second and certain sections of levels would freeze. The patch has definitely fixed any problems that I may have witnessed prior to its availability.

Halo 3

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What is arguably the most epic of all campaigns due to the large scale battles witnessed in the later portion of the game, Halo 3 feels like the odd one out of the bunch. Even though the game runs in 1080p and 60fps, it definitely isn’t the prettiest as it feels like ‘Halo Lite’.

Graphically it’s still too bright, and weapons don’t have that heavy sound to them the way they do in H2A or Halo 4. Whilst that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it would have been nice if this title did receive a bit more of an update apart from a bumped up resolution. Visually it isn’t as striking as Halo 4 or even Halo 2: Anniversary, that being said though, players can enjoy the game via co-op, the way they did on the Xbox 360 in 2007.

It was the game that introduced Theatre mode, a staple function that many other shooters included in Multiplayer as a means to replay, save and edit prior games then upload them onto File Share. There, other users could save game clips, vote on them and share them around. With the 15GB update Theatre mode returns and with the power of the Xbox One Azure Servers this could mean endless potential.

Also returning is Forge mode, which saw users creating countless novelty game types within pre-existing maps as well as characters from other titles such as the Brumak from Gears of War or the Death Star from Star Wars.

With the amount of emphasis on user created content, and players around the world creating ridiculously amazing works of art, it will be a sight to see what is created in the hands of players who love creating content but have never experienced Halo before.

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Halo 4

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Halo 4 was released late into the life cycle of the Xbox 360 and was developed by 343 industries. Keeping the franchise alive after Bungie and Microsoft split and went their separate ways, Halo 4 has received the least treatment. When stacked up against other titles currently available on the Xbox One, Halo 4 is artistically and visually appealing. The Prometheans and their weaponry add to that visually striking art that this title has over the rest. Radically changing the look of Master Chief to properly convey his tremendous weight due to this armour is apparent.

Whilst many dislike the additional features added such as sprinting which make it feels like Call of Duty, 343 took Halo 4 in a much needed direction to keep the franchise somewhat relevant by today’s standards.

While Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach both had Firefight which was a co-operative game mode much like Horde Mode in Gears of War, Halo 4 introduced Spartan Ops. Taking place 6 months after the ending of the story of Halo 4, players could enjoy this story-centric missions based add-on in 4 player co-op. Again, whilst it may not be as fun as Firefight, players can enjoy the 10 episodes that were released for it.

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Halo Channel

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Halo Channel technically replaces Halo Waypoint in that every additional piece of content available through Xbox Live ends up here. Players can watch the countless video documentaries posted by 343 Industries regarding the collection, Halo: Nightfall as well as watch Twitch streams regarding anything Halo, terminal videos and much more. Much like the main menus within the collection, Halo Channel is easy to navigate.

The main downside to this is that any terminal you now view is housed in the Halo Channel. When accessing a terminal in Halo 2, the game minimises the game loads up Halo Channel and then begins to play the terminal video. Whilst it doesn’t break the game it does detract the user from the game and takes them out of the experience a little. Much like over complicated menus do every so often in role paying games, this is exactly the same.

Halo: Channel is the hub for everything Halo, so if you’re tired from playing the game you can browse the hours of content that is featured within the channels menus.

Halo: Nightfall

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Halo: Nightwall which isn’t yet live and won’t be till the game release, bridges the gap between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. It tells the story of Jameson Locke and his team as they are caught between a terrorist attack whilst investigating terrorist activity on a distant colony world of Sedra. Sounds simple enough and with Ridley Scott attached, one would assume we’re finally going to receive the Halo we’ve been waiting for since the movie has been on an indefinite hiatus.

Unfortunately initial reports points towards this being an utter failure, which horrible CGI, dialogue and acting, and that’s not good. We haven’t had the chance to yet watch the pilot so we’ll hold our judgement until then, but Nightfall does not affect the overall experience of this collection, so one does not need to worry.

TL;DR

Whether you love or hate Halo, there is no denying that for value for money, there is nothing better than The Master Chief Collection at the moment.

Those that have been on the fence about purchasing an Xbox One, now is the perfect time to get into it. Featuring 4 single player campaigns, Theatre mode, Forge, 450 achievements and every single multiplayer map ever imagined there is no doubt this will keep you entertained for months to comes. For those who have already experienced the Halo series and completed all 4 games multiple times, there is still a lot to be loved here.

The pros most definitely outweigh the cons, and despite some minor annoyances there is a lot of polish in this collection. From the fluidity of the menus to how smooth each game runs. 343 Industries must be commended for the work they have included in this collection and definitely support them by picking it up on release.

Pros:

– Endless amount of content from 4 campaigns, multiplayer, forge and hundreds of achievements

– Each game runs in 1080p and 60 FPS

– Menu layout is top class and users can easily pick and play any game and multiplayer map/type they want

Cons:

– Halo 3 is the least visually appealing and thus is the weakest of the 4 games on offer

– Viewing terminals minimizes the game and loads up Halo Channel, detracting from the experience

– Cannot play multiplayer, Theatre of Forge without the 15gb content update and various bugs and glitches ensue if you don’t

9.5/10

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Disclaimer: The 20GB now 15GB update, was not available to reviewers until late into the review period. With only custom games available and no real matchmaking, we may revisit the games multiplayer at a later date to give an accurate and fair analysis of how multiplayer is revived within this Anniversary edition of Halo 2 and entire collection. Until then we shall wait for the game to be released and the servers to be populated so we can enjoy, experience and report back. Also this review was conducted with a digital copy of the game provided by Microsoft Australia.

OXCGN’s Ryse: Son of Rome Review


rysetest1Hold the line and read this review

Ryse is in Crysis, because it finds itself a Far Cry from previous efforts by famed frame-rate pusher Crytek, and as such doesn’t rank among their Collectibles.

*Ahem*

I must say I like Ryse; the feel, the look and the foundations of the gameplay certainly hold within them tinges of greatness. There is no however denying it is by standards an average affair.

Though gorgeous in a fashion certainly impressive for a launch title, Ryse finds itself bogged down by its “next-gen” conceit. An interesting story beset by cliché and melodrama coupled with gameplay that never matures beyond the initial two hours of the campaign mar what is otherwise an impressive effort on Crytek’s part.

Visually impressive visuals
Visually impressive visuals

Continue reading OXCGN’s Ryse: Son of Rome Review

300 More Titanfall Collectors Editions Available from EB Games Australia!


titanfallheaderIf you missed out last time, get in quick!

The Titanfall Collectors edition is an impressive package, featuring a highly detailed, LED lit, limited edition statue of ‘titanic’ proportions. EB Games Australia, exclusive stockists of the edition, initially secured three hundred Xbox One Collectors Editions, which sold out incredibly fast and more than a few eager collectors found themselves empty-handed.

Titanfall Collectors Editions go up for pre-order 15/1/14 at 10am!
Titanfall Collectors Editions go up for pre-order 15/1/14 at 10am!

Continue reading 300 More Titanfall Collectors Editions Available from EB Games Australia!

OXCGN’s Buyers Guide to Christmas!


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OXCGN’s Buyers Guide to Christmas!

Our team pick their top 5 buys this Cristmas

by OXCGN Staff

With Christmas fast approaching and shopping centers now having entered late trading hours, now is the best time to pick up any last minute gifts for friends or family that you may have missed. Since the Christmas period usually means quiet time on all fronts, we thought we’d have our staff pick 5 titles or peripherals and compile a list of what you could purchase for someone this Christmas.

If you are struggling to find the perfect present for a friend, family member or even yourself, hopefully this quick guide can give you some idea for those who are hard to purchase presents for.

What will you put under someone's tree?
What will you put under someone’s tree?

Continue reading OXCGN’s Buyers Guide to Christmas!

2013 in Gaming: The Year in Under 2 Minutes


2013

2013 in Gaming: The Year in Under 2 Minutes

What a year for gaming

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

There’s a reason why I love December and no, it’s not only because of Christmas and getting new presents but because of this single Youtube video by Malcolm Klock. If you want this year in gaming summed up for you then look no further than this 2 minute video.

All the years biggest and best titles.

I look forward to other videos which sum up the year in gaming, movies, trailers and so much more!

If you do remember Malcolm by any chance then you’ll know that he also did a 2012 in Gaming: The Year in Under 2 Minutes, which was accompanied by music from Mass Effect 2, that hit all the right spots.

I’m not to sure which year was better though 2012 or 2013, either way we have these two great videos which sum each year up. I cannot wait to see what 2014 has in store for us.

(Thanks to Rae Johnston for posting the link on her Facebook and bringing this to my attention and Malcolm Klock for another great video!)

©2013 Arthur Kotsopoulos

OXCGN’s Forza 5 Review


Forza 5

OXCGN’s Forza 5 Review

Can graphical and audible gold fill the shoes of lost content and game play features?

by Ben Cadwallader

(ED: Here it is folks, we’ve got our first next gen review for Turn 10’s latest installment in the Forza franchise that is rated one of the best in its genre. What did Ben, our racing aficionado think of the latest outing?)

Turn 10‘s Forza Motorsport 5 is a car salesman’s wet dream; get ready for the showroom experience. It is without a doubt, the closest thing to ‘real’ you will visually see in any automotive video game, period.

It is a surreal experience to see when the camera slowly pans across your car and your eyes discover that your vehicle’s paintwork features that classic ‘orange peel’ texture. You suddenly realise that this is truly what the next-generation is all about; the finer details.

Graphically Forza 5 takes it to the next level.
Graphically Forza 5 takes it to the next level.

Continue reading OXCGN’s Forza 5 Review

OXCGN’s Mid-Week News Snapshot


News

OXCGN’s Mid-Week News Snapshot

All of this weeks new in one place

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2013 Arthur Kotsopoulos

It’s only Wednesday and it seems that the news for various games just continues to keep rolling in. Now rather than clog your news feed on every social media outlet about the same news you’ve already read, I’ve decided to put it all in a snapshot.

Much like we do for E3, EB Expo and other gaming events every year.

It is mid-week which means that there will be enough content within this post in case you don’t check out other sites or haven’t read the news yet.

Click the link to read the news from earlier this week!

OXCGN’s Gears of War: Judgment Review


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OXCGN’s Gears of War: Judgment Review

Hordeless, but still distinctly Gears 

by Kent Sobey

© 2013 Kent Sobey

gears_of_war_judgment_oxcgn_boxartI’ll start this review by saying four very sad words, ‘Rest in Peace Horde’.

The first thing I noticed when I put Gears of War Judgment in was that lack of horde mode. This meant two things for me – firstly, the game was going to have to be that much better to impress me, and secondly, I was delayed starting the campaign by a few minutes because I had to wait for the tears to dry so I could see again.

Once the initial shock had passed though, I decided that I would give the game a fair chance, with or without my favourite part of its predecessor. I started with the campaign.

Judgment on Gears Judgment