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Halo: The Master Chief Collection – Flaming Heads, Halo 2 Forge Maps and More

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Our review of Halo: The Master Chief Collection went live this morning at 8.01am and scored a perfect 100% (10/10) in our write up:

Halo: The Master Chief Collection is quite possibly the largest ‘Master’ collection of gaming history in one very large bundle. With all the campaigns of four great Halo games and every bit of multiplayer maps and the downloadable content is no denying a great deal and a great piece of gaming history re-touched and improved to freshen gameplay and bring Halo on to the Xbox One. It’s very hard to find fault with such a piece of excellence as this, everything is created to ensure you have an easy transition between games with encouragement for cross-game play action. A whole ton of maps and of course, a completely re-made Halo 2, where everything else on disc is more of a bonus to accompany it.

But following a flurry of messages to my Xbox LIVE account I have been asked to share the Main Menu Selection System, the Halo 2: Anniverary Forge Maps on offer, and of course, the Halo 3 Flaming Head in all its glory…

So, here you go!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Review

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Bungie and 343i’s iconic franchise returns to the next-gen stage in one stunning collection designed to please almost all, if not every Halo fan on planet Earth with an Xbox One this Fall. Containing all of the legendary games featuring Master Chief (this means excluding Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach), you have every single chapter of Halo 1, 2, 3 and 4 at your disposal in addition to every single multiplayer map ever made. To keep the game as a 1-disc shipment, a 15GB update is required for those who want to play the best multiplayer games on Xbox LIVE. I don’t see this as an issue considering if you are online with an internet connection then downloading should not be a problem, saving all the necessary campaign content for disc – and you do get to play and keep the flaming helmet in Halo 3 made famous for Bungie staff only on Xbox 360!

The traditional Halo menu system with all previous left-sided options has been replaced for a series of drop down selections and slides to make navigation as seamless as possible between games. With such a huge collection of content to hand, finding what you want, when you want has never been easier. It’s quite a simplistic system of choices by Campaign, Multiplayer, Playlists, Options & Career, and Extras. With each selection opening up further choices by title, map, and rather impressive is a new cross-play playlist to play well remembered parts of different Halo titles straight off as one chunk of gameplay action. Whether you want to focus on Hogs, Jets, Tanks and Mechs – or the final escape from each title then it has now all be made possible. This collection is about re-living memories and moments that made an impact on your love of Halo and Xbox, with next gen touch ups to the main engine of each and solid, fluid gameplay at 60FPS – replaying Halo all over again feels like an entirely new experience on Xbox One.

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The driving force behind the collection is undoubtedly the remake of Halo 2; do you remember the outrage at closing down the original Xbox servers forcing Halo 2 online to its sudden death? With the remake of Halo Combat Evolved, Halo 2 Anniversary was always ‘that’ rumour, or for many, a wish, a hope, a chance to replay a classic game in a whole new skin – and now that day is here. In the same tradition of Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary which was released three years ago on the Xbox 360, Halo 2 Anniversary also has a seamless old vs remade graphics switching on the fly. This transition of old vs new is such a realism check on how far gaming has evolved since the early days of Halo, but in the newest Anniversary edition cut-scenes too have been completely remade from the ground up and taking advantage of next-gen capabilities allowing them to look as amazing as your mind can only imagine. This leaves something to be admired in terms of the upcoming Halo 5, because if Halo 2 cut-scenes can look this good on Xbox One, just how bloody amazing will Halo 5 look! Since, touching on the subject of Halo 5, do not forget that the Beta is only available through Halo: The Master Chief Collection this coming December as for those with the game will notice its presence in the Extra’s menu! Just sat there teasing you with an image.

When the campaign of Halo is as majestic as it is and millions around the globe having already played it many times over in the last ten years and more, Halo 2 Anniversary truly is like reliving the magic all over again as every detail you remember re-skinned, from the very floor tiles to the stars in the sky – it’s all new and shiny, with a very current feel!  Gamers who joined the Xbox brand from the Xbox 360 days may have never played Halo 2 and if they haven’t upgraded yet to an Xbox One – they still might never play Halo 2! The early Halo games are a pinnacle in the story lines that gave rise to the continuation in to Halo 4 and upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. A real “miss it or miss out” game and if you’ve enjoyed all other Halo’s then rather than cling on to the Xbox 360 for every last day it has left in its life – go out and get your Xbox One if only for this collection alone!

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Halo 2 itself was originally released in 2004 seeing out the Xbox original in its last year, but was quite rightly the most popular game on Xbox LIVE until Gears of War was released on Xbox 360 in 2006. That’s two whole years of LIVE domination and before the rise of Call of Duty, the FPS king of gaming was always that of Halo. The story campaign plays out in alternate plot lines between an early Master Chief, and a Covenant Elite called the Arbiter, who also made the transition to Halo 3 as a co-op playable character. So, if you’ve ever wondered about how the Arbiter branched into the first chapter of Halo 3 – you need to play and relive the story through Halo 2 Anniversary which has a visual quality now far greater than ant of its predecessors thanks to the overwhelming power of Xbox One. Halo 2 has been revamped and brought back to life in a very eye-catching way, so much so that it could even be considered a current game on Xbox One, it’s a grand job well done from 343 industries.

Other Halo games in the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, that includes Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4 are all Xbox 360 editions that now take advantage of improvements to the game engine running on Xbox One with clearer detail and more fluid gameplay – and it is clearly evident in the frame rates. Whilst Halo Combat Evolved and Halo 3 campaign do not appear much more visually enhanced than what you would normally see on Xbox 360, Halo 4 on the other hand looks far cleaner, brighter, smoother detail enough to make you sit up and realise that lighting and textures appear to be enhanced in some way.  The main benefits of all four halo games together as one collection has to be being able to jump right into any mission from any game instead of having to play your selected game through from beginning to end to keep chapters you’ve played. 343i have really opened up Halo as a whole allowing for cross-game playlists as mentioned earlier and also being able to compete in challenges, Leaderboards and make it a real social experience with friends over Xbox LIVE.

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One of the burning questions you might ask is about Customisation; with so many Halo games and each with their own unique styles for multiplayer – it’s natural to think about how has this been adapted for one huge collection as this.  The customisation options are all linked together in the Options and Careers menu that allows you to edit your online multiplayer settings for each game, Player ID, Career Stats Viewing, My Files for Map Variants, Films and Screenshots, controller Settings and Leaderboards, all linked into the same menu system. Character customisation allows you to edit your player for Hale Combat Evolved, Halo 2 & Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4 independently. The best options for Halo 3 and Halo 4 include all the Armors unlocked from the start; this allows you to play with a Flaming Helmet in Halo 3 that was never previously available outside of Bungie Employees, and no need to earn unlock rewards in Halo 4 as the mass of Armor is readily available to you without earning CR points. It’s simply about choosing what you think suits you best. This also applies to colour options too, but it’s all a little different for Player ID and NamePlates.

Player ID’s are those shapes and symbols used to display on your Service Record where you can mix and match emblems, where as NamePlates are the background displays showing a game logo or associated icon. To get access to these you need to complete certain challenges within each title and then a notification will appear alerting you to check for new unlocked items. If you want to edit your own Clan Tag you must complete 50 Missions or multiplayer games, but you can edit your Service Tag at any time you choose. Other unlockables include Avatar’s, which are relevant images of iconic characters that you can set to appear on your Player Details page (accessed through Roster and highlighting a player). These characters are also unlocked for performing various tasks within each title and are prominently displayed on the Player Details page that includes your Career History, File Shares and Rivals.

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For gamers who love to create their very own map or game variants, Forge has returned and allows you to play around with Halo 2: Anniversary Maps, Halo 3 Maps and Halo 4 Maps and some with Magnets and Snaps to create a seamless and tidier looking map variant by accurately being able to place objects where you need them. In the older days of Halo, just dropping a whopping great boulder as close as possible was the only option and hope for the best it landed where it needed to be. With snap tools and magnets crafting a great map has never been easier, but this has been left untouched in Halo 3. It’s not just Forge that makes a return, but Theatre mode is back too, with all recent play offerings stored in your Temporary files you can simply browse and watch all the action all over again, and again if you wish.

Although online Multiplayer was not available during the time of this review, all maps were available as part of custom game play and browsing.  Nineteen maps available for Halo Combat Evolved, Twenty-Five maps for Halo 2 Classic, Six re-made and renamed maps for Halo 2: Anniversary, Twenty-Four maps for Halo 3 and finally Twenty-Five maps for Halo 4. This is a grand total of Ninety-Nine Multiplayer Maps – a huge amount of endless gameplay online right there when the multiplayer becomes available. I have a sneaky suspicion that more Halo 2: Anniversary maps could come as DLC on the success of this collection because six seems like such a low number. I am unable to comment on server encounters because multiplayer was not played, but having looked in depth at a great deal of the maps available, the same fluid movement and improvements to texture and lighting applied to each. This has given me confidence that the multiplayer in Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be every bit as bright, detailed and fluid just as I encountered during a Press Only session at Gamescom with Xbox UK earlier this year.

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Halo: The Master Chief Collection is quite possibly the largest ‘Master’ collection of gaming history in one very large bundle. With all the campaigns of four great Halo games and every bit of multiplayer maps and the downloadable content is no denying a great deal and a great piece of gaming history re-touched and improved to freshen gameplay and bring Halo on to the Xbox One. It’s very hard to find fault with such a piece of excellence as this, everything is created to ensure you have an easy transition between games with encouragement for cross-game play action. A whole ton of maps and of course, a completely re-made Halo 2, where everything else on disc is more of a bonus to accompany it.

The ‘must-have’ game of the year, and an absolute disgrace not to own it.

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Halo: The Master Chief Collection Gameplay Launch Trailer

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Launch Trailer takes you into the definitive Halo experience coming November 11, 2014. Get the details: http://bit.ly/HaloMasterChiefCollection

The Master Chief Collection features a remastered Halo 2: Anniversary, along with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 3, Halo 4, Halo: Nightfall (a new digital series), and access to the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta.

Honoring the iconic hero and his epic journey, the Master Chief’s entire story is brought together as The Master Chief Collection, a collection of all four Halo games, including the remastered Halo 2: Anniversary and over 100 multiplayer maps, all at Xbox One visual fidelity and 60 fps.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Leaked Footage

Although Halo fans were teased (slight understatement) during E3 this year with the news of Halo: The Master Chief Collection heading to Xbox One on November 11th; leaked footage previously unseen has made its way online from the San Diego Comic Con event. Hit play above to check out the video of some gameplay footage.

The Master Chief Collection will feature all the multiplayer content from each of the four games, including all previously released download-only maps. All campaign chapters are unlocked from the get-go, so fans can use the intuitive newly created interface to play any mission, any time, at any skill level. Multiplayer will also benefit from the Master Menu, as a variety of user-friendly, streamlined features – such as maps being broken into gameplay types – are being implemented.

We’re hoping to have a review of Halo: The Master Chief Collection closer to the release date, keep and eye out in the coming months for more news and footage.

Thanks VGLeaks

Halo 3 Free For Gold Subscribers Today

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One of the highlights of the Games with Gold promotion since it was announced at E3 this year, was that Halo 3 would be completely free to download for Gold subscribers. As a triple AAA title on the Xbox 360 since 2007, you’d be hard pushed to find a hardcore gamer who doesn’t own this already – BUT – newcomers to the console in the last few years might never have had the opportunity to experience the Master Chief in pre-Halo 4 war times!

There are of course two ways to download: 1, check Xbox.com and queue it to your console for when you return home from work, or whatever else you’re doing… and 2, find it on the Xbox LIVE dashboard.

Halo 3 has a metacritic score of 94/100 hitting top reviews almost everywhere. You may find over the next few days that those with the game on disc already, may throw themselves online in reminiscence of the greater days of Halo gaming.

Games With Gold – No Assassin’s Creed II or Halo 3 for July

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Major Nelson has confirmed that the FREE Games with Gold game for July is in fact NOT Assassin’s Creed 2 or Halo 3, but some cheap nasty Xbox LIVE Arcade game instead. Defence Grid The Awakening will be free on the marketplace for Xbox LIVE Gold Subscribers today.

Major Nelson tries to defend the E3 Press Briefing which heavily misled press and gamers to believe that the Games with Gold would start with Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3.

However, from the video clip of E3 below, the exact wording used to describe Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3 as part of the Games with Gold was “and to kick off that program I’d like to share just two of the titles we’re going to offer over the next few months – Assassin’s Creed two, and Halo three”

Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows Phone 8

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With speculation already rife since the domain name acquisitions relating to Halo: Spartan Assault, Microsoft and 343 Industries today revealed an all-new way for gamers to experience “Halo” – this time, you can do it on Windows 8 devices. Available this July only on both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, the all-new Halo: Spartan Assault will be the first top-down action shooter that brings a Halo game to touch-based devices.

The top-down action shooter will be set between the events of Halo 3 and Halo 4, it also explores the first missions of the Spartan Ops programme and dives deeper into the backstory of the Human-Covenant wars. Play through the eyes of either Commander Sarah Palmer or Spartan Davis stationed aboard the UNSC Infinity as they fight in never-before-seen battles against Covenant forces.

With 25 unique missions featuring unrivalled action and intensity, the single-player experience allows you to compete against friends in Leaderboards or hone your skills with Weekly Challenges. Replay the missions to collect more than 40 in-game Achievements and Medals. For fans who already have a prospering Spartan career aboard the UNSC Infinity, “Halo: Spartan Assault” lets you earn experience points (XP), all-new Achievements, and emblems for your “Halo 4” Spartan, with additional integration features available after launch.