Halo: The Master Chief Collection is magnificent. Unprecedented. Masterful, even. It's thirteen years of console FPS history in a single package: Halo 1-4 tweaked and remastered with all of the local co-op, optional skulls, new skill and time challenges, levels, stages, secrets, live-action series and a massive multiplayer suite spanning 100+ maps, brought together into one cohesive experience. Halo 2 pushes the boat out even further with an Anniversary Edition boasting all-new textures, tweaks and gorgeous cutscenes. When it comes to HD Collections and re-releases, we may be looking at nothing less than the new platinum benchmark.
Unfortunately, it's also not all there, and I mean that very literally. The multiplayer suite and numerous performance tweaks aren't included on the disc, rather they have to be downloaded via a massive 15GB patch... which was only released 24 hours ago.
Giving the Master Chief Collection a score at this stage would be hilariously unethical, then, and I'd raise an eyebrow at any site willing to do so. However, having blasted through the all-important singleplayer campaigns, I absolutely can split the review in two to take an in-depth look at the remastered singleplayer and cooperative experience. You'll have to wait until next week for the multiplayer and our final verdict.Click here to read more...
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out next week, containing all four numbered Halo titles in a single enormous remastered collection. Our full review will be going live soon, but it's now the perfect time to look back at the franchise and remember why we still loved it. For us, it comes down to the levels, thirteen years of unforgettable set pieces, pulse-pounding moments, vehicular shenanigans and the freedom to experiment and improvise with our own strategies. So without further ado: the top ten most legendary Halo levels.
DIShonourable Mentions (nobody's perfect):
Sergeant Johnson knows what the ladies like: grinding treads and awesome tanks. What's not to love? This level starts with a bang as you smash across a Covenant-occupied bridge in a Scorpion, snipe jackals, go on a shotgun rampage ("It's tight quarters on the other side, sir. Use this!"), blow up an entire Covenant task force in a gauss hog and finally leap onto the back of a Scarab to murder its crew.
Halo 2 may be the most inconsistent and unsatisfying campaign in the series, but damn, it has its moments.Click here to read more...
Halo 3 was originally announced as one of the first Xbox Live 'Games With Gold,' but as the months following E3 2013 rolled on, Bungie's climactic shooter was nowhere to be found.
Until now. Microsoft has finally made good on their promise, so if you haven't played it to death already, be sure to grab it from the marketplace. You've got until the end of the month.
Bungie have called time on their support for Halo stats, releasing a new infographic that shows just how much love and devotion has been pumped into the multiplayer aspects of the games over the years.
"We have followed your careers with great interest here on Bungie.net, and you have gifted us a mountain of heroic moments to memorialize," wrote community manager DeeJ.
"It is with a sense of awe that we step back and admire the impact that you have had on our games, and upon our studio. Thanks for sharing your stories with us."Click here to read more...
Videogames have allowed us to experience things that we'd never witness in real life. We've boldly strode across alien worlds, saved civilizations, become sporting legends and explored complex narratives that rival anything on the silver screen. But I'd be remiss if we didn't point out that we've also been able to stomp about in massive, awesome robot suits and squelch our enemies beneath several tons of armoured murder. Mechs, exoskeletons, Mecha, call them what you will, but there's no doubt that these enormous war machines are very much here to stay. Just try telling them otherwise.
So it's time we game them their dues. Here's what we'd consider the best ten mechs of all time - in terms of firepower, combat prowess and game impact.
Designation: Gold-Powered Prototype Battlesuit
Weapon Systems: MegaNade Cannon, Shield Projector
Explosionade, the Indie action platformer from Mommy's Best Games, introduced us to a devastating prototype mech suit that's powered by molten gold. This alone immediately makes it one of the coolest things ever, but it's worth noting that the MegaNade launcher can deploy a gratuitous (even unnecessary) amount of explosive ordnance to the battlefield. Even a fat, bumbling and inept pilot can bring an alien empire to its knees.
Designation: Type 47 Ultra Heavy Assault Platform
Weapon Systems: Plasma Beam, Anti-Air Turret
The Scarab is unique on this list as it's technically not a playable exoskeleton - though it certainly deserves a mention. The Covenant's powerful walker was just a glorified pavement slab in Halo 2, but by the third game, it was infused with a colony of Lekgolo worms and turned into a bona fide mech suit. Essentially it's an enormous Hunter... and would have been rated higher if it wasn't hilariously vulnerable. Killing one is a fun puzzle in and of itself, and provides arguably the highest points of the Halo franchise.Click here for this week's mech-tacular spectacular!
I almost had to refrain from adding 'Reach' to the end of Halo instead of '3'. It's been so long since we wrote a Halo 3 deal, although this is definitely worth the cut-price. Currys, after weeks of writing Reserve and Collect deals, are finally open for home delivery business, and they've slashed the price of Halo 3 to just £4.97. Now, it might be three years old, edging on four, but H3 is still, in my opinion, the definitive next-gen Halo. Reach is cutting it for me, and while 3 is a few years behind in visuals and features, I prefer the space-opera tones and vehicular mayhem to Reach's war-journalism ground ops.
It's December, so Christmas is almost upon us, and if your house is swarming with little ones you're going to need some stocking fodder. And what better game to squeeze into an old football sock than Halo 3, the climactic finale to the record-breaking trilogy, which can be nabbed off Currys for just £4.97. That's less than a fiver, and the cheapest the game has been in a while. Having been so disappointed by Halo Reach, I have new-found respect for Bungie's first foray into the next-generation. It has its flaws and shortcomings, mainly in the story department, but the campaign is one of the best, the multiplayer chock-full of great modes and, at the time, revolutionary features. And here's a secret, on the very last level where you're navigating the collapsing Halo ring in a Warthog, when you see the colossal metal beam shear across the arena, hop out and run to the very edge of the crumbling lattice. There you will find a whimpering Grunt, left by his comrades to perish on the self-destructing ring. His dialogue is hilarious.
EA is the latest publisher to drop us a line with their E3 lineup: and it's one of the most impressive so far. There's a good mix of balls-out action, horror and more balls-out action, with a sprinkling of sims and Wii fitness thrown in for good measure. For your consideration:
Excited to see their lineup in action? Their media briefing can be viewed live at www.ea.com/e3 at 11.00pm this Monday.
Okay, folks- this one might be a little controversial. Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg has come out swinging into the pre-E3 trash talking arena by twittering that Halo 3 has sold six of the top Playstation 3 exclusives... combined.
"Just in from research team (NPD): Halo 3 has outsold Resistance 1 + 2, Uncharted 1+2, Killzone 2 and God of War III COMBINED....wow"
It's an impressive statistic, but I would be interested to see the as yet unreported NPD data before making a call on this one (as well as worldwide sales data). Frankly, I think Greenburg may be missing the point. Halo 3 may have sold phenomenally well, but it's still one exclusive compared to six. Microsoft may have won this battle- but I fear the console war will be ultimately decided by the number of first party exclusives that each brand brings to the table. [@aarongreenberg via Gamesindustry]
Rock Band 3 has been teasing us with tantalising little details every now and again, but USA Today has finally brought us the full scoop on Rock Band 3's Pro Mode, keyboard peripheral and partial setlist. And it's looking very exciting indeed.
First up, let's take a look at the Keytar. Whilst the model shown above is only a working prototype, we're overjoyed to see that it has two octaves of full-sized keys and what appears to be a 'pitch bend' flick switch on the handle. With any luck, it could actually be be used as a functional MIDI keyboard with the right software support (or homebrew app). As a keyboard player myself, I'm looking forward to seeing how well it integrates with the traditional dynamics.
Now for the setlist. The few confirmed thus far are a mixed bag, containing a few bona fide classics (such as Whitesnake's Here I Go Again and The Power of Love by Huey Lewis) and a mix of different styles. I still don't know whether Bohemian Rhapsody will stand up to repeated playthroughs, but hell, we can't wait to give it a go!
Finally, Harmonix have revealed the Pro Mode, which might well be the most exciting feature so far. This hardcore gametype will replace the traditional scrolling gems with more realistic musical notation (including guitar tab), essentially granting the game more credibility amongst serious musicians as well as teaching very basic musical theory to newcomers. Two new peripherals will take advantage of the Pro Mode, including a full-size, fully-functional Fender Squier Strat. Err... that's pretty much killed Power Gig then...
They're also throwing in 7-player band sessions, improved drums and cymbals, better story mode and character progression... basically, the way things are shaping up, Rock Band 3 might well be the most comprehensive music game ever made. And the last you'll ever need. [USA Today]
Just in case we all weren't miserable enough when we found out that Episode 3 wouldn't be making an appearance at E3, Valve has decided to let us all know that Portal 2 has been delayed until next year. Thanks a bunch, guys.
Still, at least we have their E3 "surprise" to look forward to... but the way things are going, they'll probably reveal that they've killed Santa, cancelled Christmas and eloped with our partners.