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 co-creator Jason Jones reckons that the seminal Xbox shooter would have been a better game if made today with modern technology and design.Click here to read more...
Maps can make or break a shooter's multiplayer mode. Get the level design right and your community will come flooding back time and time again. Get it wrong, and you'd better pray to some sort of deity that your mechanics are up to scratch. We were mulling over the day's news earlier today when, out of the blue, Jon had an epiphany and a conversation was struck up determining our favourite FPS multiplayer maps. All of a sudden, a top ten was on the table.
So here it is. Let us know if we've missed any of your favourites.
Sometimes you just have to say, "sod balancing!" Jump pads glaore, open sightlines, plenty of verticality, The Longest Yard began life as a part of the Q3 Test beta, before being promoted to fly the flag for Quake III: Arena as the game's demo map.
There was a little sniper net, only accessible through some nifty jump pad platforming, and acceleration pads on the second level that made for hilarious rocket jousting. No wonder it's still a fan favourite to this day.
Overgrown was good, but Crash is better. Arguably the finest map Infinity Ward have ever made, it perfectly combined paranoia-inducing outside action with the frenetic fury of indoor combat. Balanced incredibly well to suit both sharpshooters and ground-pounding riflemen, it never gets skipped.
Also hearing Santa chuckling to himself as he bombs the hell out of you at Christmas time is excellent.Click here to read more...
It's official. As we all pretty much expected, Halo: Combat Evolved is to be redone in HD and released to celebrate the original's 10th birthday on November 15th. Announced in Microsoft's E3 presser, there'll be a fully remastered, very shiny campaign as well as online co-op and, happily, assassinations.
As if November wasn't shaping up to be expensive enough!
I admit, I've doubted Microsoft's nebulous claims of Kinect eventually serving the hardcore once its - playing it safe - launch was out the way. Especially when their attempts at aping the Wii were triumphantly successful, I'd forgive Microsoft for at least considering abandoning us core folk and focusing on those beautiful upper middle-class families with their Ikea lounges. But according to Eurogamer, the Redmond giant is prepping at least ten all new Kinect titles for an E3 unveiling. And they're not just Kinect Sports 2.Click here for more
We're big fans of Halo here at Dealspwn. Big. We often engage in spirited canon conversation that usually ends in harmless fisticuffs. I still believe Grunts can fly. However, in celebration of Halo's tenth anniversary, Microsoft is throwing the swankiest of swank celebrations during PAX Prime over in Seattle, with Halo Fest taking place on August 26th to August 28th. And amongst all the makeshift Master Chief costumes and Elite cosplay, might we be seeing some surprises, too?Click here to read more...
343 Industries are, according to all reports and speculation, hard at work on bringing Halo: Combat Evolved into the next-generation using a modified version of the Halo Reach engine. Recent reports suggest that Timeshift developers Saber Interactive were behind the project, but a statement from 343 Industries indicate that these rumours may be way off the mark.Click here for more details...
According to Australia's classification website, a videogame adaption of Jonathan Liebesman's Battle: Los Angeles film is in the works at Saber Interactive, due to be published by Konami. It's the first we've heard of the game, and with the film due for release in March it's unlikely this is a big-budget, retail release. However, what's more intriguing is the inclusion of Saber Interactive.Click here to find out why!
Halo: Combat Evolved isn't afraid to reveal its influences. In fact, just glancing over a synopsis on the back of the box reads like a hodgepodge science fiction's greatest achievements. The Halo ring, for example, is quite clearly inspired by Larry Niven's Ringworld series. The cunning, fearsome Elites feature split-jaws not at all dissimilar to the clicking mandibles of Predator's titular villain.
And then we have Sergeant Johnson, standing in the plasma-strobed fog of his own cigar smoke, grinning and poised to utter a clench-jawed one liner. His likeness to Aliens' Sergeant Apone is so striking it verges on plagiarism. But we don't care. Because we love him. Here's why.
We're first introduced to Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson in the opening cinema to Combat Evolved, where he's rallying a marine platoon for an imminent battle with the Covenant in a scene ripped straight from Aliens. Johnson strikes us as a stoic, courageous leader not fazed by the threat of the Covenant breaching his ship, instilling a calm fury in his men for bloodshed ahead.
Johnson isn't then seen until the fantastic level, 343 Guilty Spark. We don't actually meet him, but we witness his apparent demise through the retrieved helmet of Private Jenkins, where his on-board camera captured events unfold inside the mysterious Forerunner facility. Johnson was accompanying Captain Keyes and his men inside the facility, stumbling on the mangled remains of a Covenant force. They're then overrun by a parasitic life-form, the Flood, with a dozen or so carriers swarming over the dear Sergeant's writhing body.Click here to read the rest of Felix's tribute to Sergeant Johnson...
This choice little rumour slipped through our dragnet yesterday, so just in case you're not already chattering away over at Bungie.net, consider this your wakeup call. Joystiq has reported that an anonymous source (it's always an anonymous source) has outed a November 15th release date for 343 Industries' rumoured Halo: Combat Evolved remake.
This source has also suggested that entirely new art assets will be used with a modified version of the Halo Reach engine, though the audio will remain unchanged. Naturally, since this is a rumour, we'll take that with a pinch of salt- but be aware that Saber Interactive have surprisingly been tentatively linked to the project.
As far as the exact date's concerned, your guess is as good as mine. After all, a holiday season release would be the obvious time to launch any major title. However, we can say with some certainty that the Halo CE remake is going to happen- and will be a perfect way for 343 Industries to prove that they have what it takes to inherit the Halo universe. More as this develops. [Joystiq]
Do we want- or need- a remake of Halo: Combat Evolved? Is this the rite of passage that 343 need to undergo in order to win our trust? Or are you just sick and tired of teh hal0z? Have your say in the comments!
The Onimusha action/horror series has all but dropped off of the radar this generation (with its latest iteration appearing on the PS2 in 2006), but Capcom's Yoshinori Ono believes that it's high time for Samanosuke and the gang to make a comeback.
The time feels right to me. It feels like it’s the time to resurrect that series. But I wouldn’t want to do the things we’ve done before. I think it might be time to progress beyond the standard single-player adventure.
Ono continued to suggest that cooperative or competitive multiplayer elements could make an appearance in the next title... though the game itself is still a theory at present.
There should be ways to expand upon what we’ve done while involving the community more. Perhaps implement some sort of multiplayer into a game like that.
I don’t have those ideas solidified yet, but when these ideas come to fruition, when I feel good about them and I feel we can do something, I will most certainly take them in for approval with the higher-ups. It’s something I’m very interested in doing.
Sounds promising, but so far, a new Onimusha title is just a twinkle in Yoshinori's eye. We'll keep you posted.
In other news: Yoshinori would also love to see another Darkstalkers title. And so would we. [IGN]
After a modestly successful launch on PC, Telltale Games has confirmed that the first episode in their Back To The Future series will be hitting American PSN on 15th February, with the European version following "shortly thereafter." Veteran PSN users will expect a couple of days for the Euro marketplace to lag behind its transatlantic cousin.
The entire season will cost $19.99 US, with each of the five episode becoming available over the next four months. [EG]
Halo: Combat Evolved is a classic for a multitude of reasons. For one, it almost single-handedly rescued the original Xbox from disaster, revolutionized what we came to expect from a console FPS, and delivered some of the finest moment-to-moment action and multiplayer. It's no mistake Halo went on to shatter sales records, reshape online gaming and establish itself as a mass-media property. And it all began here.
And while I love Halo for its bombastic action, its addictive multiplayer and sweeping space-opera strokes, what I remember most fondly from Combat Evolved was the chubby silver pistol you carried on your adventures. It's been almost a decade since we first crash-landed on the lost ring, when the Chief first plucked that hand-cannon from his hip, so I think it's only fitting we cast our gazes back to remember... Why We Love Halo: Combat Evolved's Pistol!
The Assault Rifle might be the Chief's signature weapon, but it was always the trusty Pistol I turned to when times were rough. And by rough, I mean cowering behind a boulder on Legendary as Covenant bombard my position with plasma fire. The Pistol could drop a Grunt or Jackal with a single headshot, an Elite with three or four raps to the noggin, and even the mighty Hunter with a sole shell to the fleshy orange parts he so proudly displays between his turquoise armor-plating. Is it turquoise? It might just be blue, or perhaps a shade of lapis-lazuli.
The Pistol was a feared weapon on the competitive battlefield, too. It could kill a rival Spartan in just three shots if you aimed at the head, and its on-board scope, wired to your Spartan's optics, meant distance wasn't a problem. On maps such as 'Boarding Action', where you can teleport from each parallel Cruiser's exposed flank, the Pistol was a beast, that far-off shot and subsequent ping to your shields and health suggesting you hightail it to some cover. It was a much-loved but also much-maligned weapon, obviously overpowered but a joy to wield, nonetheless.
In Combat Evolved's followup, Halo 2, the Pistol was replaced by the Magnum, a lesser version of the gun we all know and loved, with its reduced power and range compensated by the ability to dual-wield. Yes, you could rock two Pis - , I mean Magnums now, and while it was great fun to fire from the hip at dozens of Grunts like some futuristic John Woo character, I couldn't help but mourn the loss of the all-conquering Pistol.
Bungie recognised this, although while Halo 3's Pistol brought back the silver finish it, too, was a glorified pea-shooter. We were forced to wait until 2009, and the release of ODST, for a true resurrection. ODST's Pistol was a dream, a silenced, accurate death-machine which dropped Grunts, Jackals and even Brutes with no more than five whisper-quiet shots. With the ODST's reduced armory, skills and strength, the Pistol with the power of Combat Evolved allowed us to navigate the overrun streets of New Mombasa with our lives intact. Thank Bungie.
Did you mourn the loss of Combat Evolved's pistol as dramatically as we did? Or were you thankful to see the headshot-master removed and replaced with a lesser weapon? As always, sign off in the comments below!
Despite being a profoundly American phenomenon, Black Friday fever has gripped the UK. As well as the excellent fire sale, Major Nelson has announced a bevy of new deals that are good for one day only!
The Xbox Original full game deals are astounding- especially the likes of Halo: Combat Evolved and GTA: San Andreas that are available for 400 Microsoft Points! The awesome 'Splosion Man is also down to a ridiculous 160 MSP, replete with many hours of content, plenty of achievements and nifty avatar awards. It's an 80% saving. Go buy it. Drop whatever you're doing and buy it now.
Game Add-Ons and Avatar Items
I don't mean to sound like a broken record... but you should go buy 'Splosion Man immediately. Don't buy the lightsaber instead. Seriously.
Just this last Sunday, we cast our nostalgic gaze back to Goldeneye's 'Facility', a level we loved considerably. However, it's not like Bond's urinal-shattering Soviet op is the only FPS level we deem fit for a feature article. In fact, we have ten in mind, from crashing on a lost alien structure, sniping in the irradiated ruins of Chernobyl, to dropping our first companion-cube down a rift in space/time. So, and drum-roll please, Dealspwn presents the Top 10 FPS Levels!
Call of Duty has its fair share of spectacular levels, and I almost plumped for Black Ops' jaw-dropping prison break, 'Vortuka'. But, in the end, I settled for Modern Warfare's flashback to 1970s Pripyat, where a young Lieutenant Price joins the late Captain MacMilan for a special op as they track a nuclear arms deal in the hope of assassinating one Imran Zakhaev. It's a cracking level, as you sneak or crawl past enemy patrols, dropping guards with a suppressed round from your sniper rifle. Notice how hard MW2 strives, but fails, to replicate this experience?
Timesplitters 2 is simply overflowing with wacky but wonderful levels. I'm particularly partial to the wild west detour. However, I just can't overlook your trip back to 17th century France, and a cathedral overrun with zombies. It's classic Timesplitters, tongue firmly in cheek, brimming with great humour and even better design. It's tough deciding what crazy era-related adventure to decide from in TS, and in the end it was the plight of a poor hunchbacked gentleman you can rescue that swayed my hand.
Despite it's title, serious is not a word we'd use to describe the adventures of Sam Stone. It's a mad, wild ride, replete with miles long vistas, thousands of enemies, hundred foot or more tall bosses, and some of the best guns in the genre. For SS2, we settled on the 'Great Pyramid' level, where Mental's HQ, fashioned as a giant Egyptian pyramid, reveals itself to be a heavily armed, weaponised structure. It's a level chock-full of classic Serious Sam stuff, like vast environments crawling with hundreds upon hundreds of enemies hurling themselves into your sea of bullets, as the Great Pyramid itself lurks on the horizon.