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.

An Interview With Master Chief: Delta Six Cosplay


In the lead up to some of the biggest gaming events of the year, EB Expo and PAX Australia, the team at OXCGN have been reaching out to cover more than just the games, we’ve been talking to the cosplayers who dress up as characters from the titles they love. Recently I had the chance to speak with James from Delta Six Cosplay, a Halo cosplay group that has recently become a part of the worldwide Halo Cosplay group, the 405th Regiment.

Jayden: What first got you into cosplay? What was your first costume or foray into the cosplay world?

James: My first cosplay was of Kakashi Hatake from the anime Naruto to manifest  2013 and Armageddon 2013, I had just decided quickly to cosplay as him just for the sake of it but it was at these conventions that I found my love cosplay and from that my cosplays have expanded into larger more complex characters such as my current Master Chief cosplay.

Jayden: Cosplay means a lot to so many people, from being an escape to a new way to socialise. Why is cosplay important to you?

James: To me cosplay is important not only because of the social experience that comes with it, but also because I get to make the people around me smile and add something to their convention experience.

Jayden: How did the formation of the Delta Six group come about?

James: The Delta Six group was formed before the 405th Australian regiment and was supposed to be a substitute for it before we ended up forming the 405th. I was recruited into the Delta Six group by Jack Britton.

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Jayden: What drew you to Halo specifically, to cosplay as a group?

James: I just love the Halo universe in general and for there to be a Halo cosplay group that’s something that just had to be done.

Jayden: Take us through a build quickly – how fast do you usually get a set of spartan armour up and going? What is the most difficult part?

James: It depends on which version or armour set I am making and how much detail I want to go into (Normally as much detail as I can). It all starts on blank piece of paper drawing and measuring out the templates to be transferred onto the Eva foam (My choice of material some people use others). then starts the process of cutting and gluing all the parts together. Once the suit is assembled it’s onto creating and strapping it to an under suit of some kind then painting and weathering it. The last step on my check list is a in depth test fitting, such as how long can I stand in it, mobility, movement etc.

Jayden: If not Halo, are there any other series the group has considered seriously pursuing?

James: For now it’s just Halo, but who knows what the future can bring.

Jayden: Who is your dream cosplay?

James: I actually have 2 dream cosplays, one of which I have completed, my Halo 4 Master Chief. My other dream cosplay is Megatron from the 3rd transformers movie which is currently in its design stage.

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Jayden: Do you have a favourite ‘in costume’ moment, from a con or a photoshoot?

James: I don’t have a particular favourite moment because every con and photoshoot is always so amazing and so much fun. Though my favourite part of a con is when I bring out my music and start dancing with fellow cosplayers, doing dances such as the nutbush and the Macarena or just dancing stupidly to Sexay and I Know it, it always makes everyone laugh and smile.

Jayden: How do you feel about the rise in ‘professional cosplayers’? Is this a goal you want to pursue in the future?

James: Professional cosplayers have gotten to where they are by being good at what they do and wouldn’t be “Professional cosplayers” without the fans and the people who love seeing what they do. Being a Professional cosplayer would be great I think, at the moment I am getting into charity work and appearing as a special guest to events but really I just do this because I love it and if I happen to get professional work from it down the line that’s just added bonus.

Jayden: With your new induction into the 405th Regiment, what do you think this will mean for both your group and the future of Halo cosplayers here in Australia?

James: The 405th regiment  is not only going to be a great community place for Halo cosplayers to gain feedback and advice from one and another but it’s also going to be a place that has us all in one place, visible and available to possible work for either halo launch events or appearances at cons.

We’d like to thank James for his time, and as we look to cover more cosplay in the future, we’d like to turn this over to you. If you’d like to have a chat about your cosplay activities or to show off what you’ve made, let us know! You can reach us easily on Facebook and Twitter, or drop us an email anytime at info@OXCGN.com – we look forward to hearing from you!

E3 2014: Halo: The Master Chief Collection vs Original Halo Series Screenshot Comparison


Feast your eyes on greatness

Even though this was kind of leaked prior to E3, knowing that this is real and will be released November of this year still fills me with excitement. In the past we’ve done a few screenshot comparison pieces specifically with Halo 3 vs Reach vs Halo 4 and it was interesting seeing how Halo had evolved on the Xbox 360. Now with both Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 receiving the Anniversary treatment and Halo 3 and Halo 4 receiving bumped up textures and frame rates, we thought we’d do another screenshot comparison with the old and the new.

We’ve grabbed the screenshots we’ve used for the previous articles since no new Halo: Combat Evolved screens were released. Seeing as both Halo 3 and Halo 4 won’t be receiving the anniversary treatment, we can still compare both titles and the graphical leap that came from both games, being developed by two different studios as well. (Ed Note: PS: Yes, Master Chief is spelt incorrectly in the URL. Editing error on my behalf, and if changed will break various links around the web. Simple error easily dismissed, enjoy the screens)

Halo: Combat Evolved Original vs Anniversary

Halo 2 Original vs Anniversary

Halo 2 Original vs Anniversary Multiplayer

Halo 3 Original vs Halo 4 Original

Halo 3 Multiplayer vs Halo 4 Multiplayer

Once screenshots are released for both Halo 3 and Halo 4 receiving some bump up in textures and frame rate, we’ll definitely compare them with what we’ve got to see the improvements. For now enjoy the screens and in case you missed it, here’s the trailer that was shown during Microsoft’s Press Conference. Also it seems that The Master Chief Collection will be receiving a tonne of new features whilst including everything that made each game great back then. I seriously cannot wait.

OXCGN’s Game of the Year Awards for 2012


2012 GOTY feature

OXCGN’s Game of the Year Awards for 2012

The world did not end this year 

by David Hilton

©2012 David Hilton

game of the year award smlWith all the attention on the impending Mayan apocalypse it would have been fitting to look at the state of gaming at the end of 2011 and wonder if the gaming world might also end.

While there was initially some optimism that new major next gen consoles would be announced at this year’s E3, only the Wii U actually was a next gen certainty and the limits of current gen consoles had seemingly been reached.

On top of that, gaming sequels continued to dominate game releases.

It looked like the end could be nigh for big release gaming of the AAA variety in the near future.

However the quality of this year’s titles shows that gaming is very much alive and though many studios and franchises faltered this year, more succeeded with some of the best games this gaming generation.

With a huge renaissance gaming year promised for 2013 in the form of new generation consoles, let’s look at 2012 as the last big battle of this current console generation for top gaming honours.

We gave our readers a chance in a poll to decide their 2012 Game of the Year, and the results came in with the beautiful and clever Playstation exclusive downloadable title, Journey. Now it’s our turn.

OXCGN GOTY here

OXCGN’s EA Showcase Snapshot: Crysis 3, SimCity, and The Devil’s Cartel


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OXCGN’s EA Showcase Snapshot: Crysis 3, SimCity, and The Devil’s Cartel

A showcase of EA’s Q1 2013 lineup

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos

ea logo oxcgnIt’s astounding to think that all the games at EA Australia’s Showcase will be released in Q1 of 2013. These range from the beautiful title Crysis 3, to Insomniac‘s first multiplatform title and new IP known as FUSE.

The line up is disappointingly filled with shooters, which I have to admit is starting to make this last stretch of current generation consoles over-crowded. With that being said though, EA do have Maxis‘s SimCity, my highlight of the showcase.

With FUSE and Dead Space 3 being the bigger titles of the line up, we’ve decided to bring back the snapshot format OXCGN utilized during previous events of this year.

This way, you’re able to digest more important information that we feel would interest you.

Get a glimpse of 2013!

Counterpoint: Multiplayer Unlocks Don’t Ruin Halo 4


ARTICLE_halo 4 kotaku

Counterpoint: Multiplayer Unlocks Don’t Ruin Halo 4

And here we go…

by Arthur Kotsopoulos

©2012 Arthur Kotsopoulos

halo 4 boxartOver the last month I’ve had a few issues with the level of quality journalism from our colleagues at Kotaku, from the abysmal THQ Humble Bundle article to the criticism of why the Bioshock Infinite cover is terrible and why it matters.

As we all know, the third time’s a charm when another Kotaku article caught my eye, this time criticizing why “This Year’s Biggest Shooters Remind Me Why Multiplayer Unlocks Suck“.

At first I thought: “Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch but I’ll bend my imagination, give this article a read and see what the fuss is about.” The first paragraph sums up the article and its outrageous claims nicely:

Kotaku: The other day, a colleague mentioned that she felt like there was something off about Halo 4′s multiplayer. She was getting destroyed by others players, eventually feeling like she didn’t have much of a chance when up against people with advanced abilities or gear gained from level unlocks.

I’m not sure what game the supposed colleague was playing but as far as I know, Halo 4 doesn’t include advanced abilities, nor any type of gear you can unlock at higher levels that even remotely attributes to a stronger Spartan.

Sure, Halo 4 includes Armor Abilities, Tactical Packages and Support Upgrades, but neither of these substantially increase the player’s chances of being an unstoppable killing machine.

When GameInformer broke down the inclusions of Halo 4‘s multiplayer aspect, a lot of gamers cried foul about how Halo 4 was moving away from its roots and becoming another Call of Duty among the plethora of generic shooters.

Does Halo 4 really suffer from modernizing?

OXCGN’s 2012 Reader GOTY: Gamers Voted, But Will the VGAs Get it Right?


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OXCGN’s 2012 Reader GOTY

Gamers voted, but will the VGAs get it right?

by Nicholas Laborde

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

For five wonderful years, OXCGN has been bringing the gaming community in Australia and abroad the best opinionated pieces in the gaming space.

This year, we decided to have two separate Game of the Year awards: one for the readers, and a second traditional one decided by our staff.

You voted, and the results are in.

Who did you pick?

And the winner is…

OXCGN’s Halo 4 Review: Reclaiming the Chief


OXCGN’s Halo 4 Review

Reclaiming the Chief

by Nicholas Laborde

©2012 Nicholas Laborde

It’s quite difficult to properly express how great my anticipation was for Halo 4.

Halo. The innovator and father of the modern console FPS.

Eleven years ago, Halo under Bungie redefined what was possible with a shooter on consoles.

Now, with new developer 343 Industries at the helm of a new trilogy, the fate of the Master Chief is in the hands of the world.

Luckily 343 hits the mark and the Chief will live to fight many more days.

Halo 4 review