The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games and life converge

Review and Reflections on The Master Chief Collection: Halo Combat Evolved

“Men, we led those dumb bugs out to the middle of nowhere to keep ’em from gettin’ their filthy claws on Earth. But, we stumbled onto somethin’ they’re so hot for, that they’re scramblin’ over each other to get it. Well, I don’t care if it’s God’s own anti-son-of-a-bitch machine, or a giant hula hoop, we’re not gonna let ’em have it! What we will let ’em have is a belly full of lead, and a pool of their own blood to drown in! Am I right, Marines?” –Seargent Johnson

The Pillar of Autumn barely manages to escape Reach, but is pursued by a Covenant Armada. As the ship sustains fire, Captain Keyes orders Spartan Master Chief John-117 out of cryosleep to safe-keep the AI Cortana. Master Chief manages to escape the Pillar of Autumn and crash lands on a ring-world known as Halo. He helps to rally the surviving marines and learns that Captain Keyes had set the Pillar of Autumn down, but was captured by the Covenant in the process. A contingent of UNSC marines accompanies Master Chief to rescue Captain Keyes, who is being held on board the Covenant’s Truth and Reconciliation, where Cortana taps into the Covenant communications network and discovers that the Covenant is looking for a map to Halo’s control center. When Captain Keyes is rescued, he sends Master Chief to get to the map ahead of the Covenant. Master Chief secures the map and identifies the control room’s location, fighting his way through an icy canyon to reach the control room. Cortana remains behind to study Halo’s systems, and Master Chief is sent to assist marines who are looking for the now-missing Captain Keyes. Arriving in a swamp, Master Chief comes face to face with the Flood, an ancient parasitic life form capable of galactic destruction. Halo’s Monitor, 343 Guilty Spark, whisks Master Chief away to the Library, a building that holds the Index, which activates Halo. While Master Chief successfully retrieves the Index and returns to the control room, Cortana chides him, explaining that the Halo Array doesn’t kill the Flood, but rather, its food source (all intelligent life). In order to prevent Halo from being activated, Cortana suggests detonating the Pillar of Autumn’s fusion reactor, which remained intact following its crash. After disabling several pulse generators to buy time, Cortana teleports Master Chief to the Truth and Reconciliation to locate Captain Keyes, who possesses the neural implants needed to access the Pillar of Autumn’s systems. They find him consumed by the Flood, and too late to save him, Master Chief retrieves the neural implants before returning to the Pillar of Autumn. When Guilty Spark thwarts attempts to manually overload the Pillar of Autumn’s reactors, Cortana and Master Chief manually overload the reactor instead, and then narrowly escape the detonation that destroys Halo. At least, this is about as succinctly as I can be with regards to describing Halo‘s iconic and timeless campaign.

One of the best-known shooters of all time, Halo: Combat Evolved (or Halo for brevity) began its life as a real-time strategy game for Mac OS X, although its transformation into a first-person shooter would result in the title becoming the Xbox’s breakout game. Despite its age, the original Halo remains a solid experience, and the Anniversary Edition brings a modernised re-imagining of classic moments with new visuals. The story and themes of Halo remains unchanged; while ostensibly a first-person shooter set in a science fiction environment, Master Chief’s dynamics with Cortana and the UNSC set the stage for a very curious message about human nature. Throughout Halo, Master Chief is presented as a devoted and committed soldier, following orders and doing his utmost to ensure he fulfils his duties. Whether it be orders from Captain Keyes, or suggestions from Cortana, Master Chief is focused on his objectives. As such, when Captain Keyes goes missing and Cortana is left behind to investigate Halo’s network, Master Chief faces the greatest amount of isolation seen during the game. This leads him to place trust in 343 Guilty Spark, which very nearly brings about the end of half the life in the galaxy as a result. Halo thus suggests that despite the Master Chief being a specially-engineered super-soldier, he still retains much of his humanity, attesting to the strength of human nature even in the most disciplined and dedicated of individuals. At this point in Halo, Master Chief is presented as a silent protagonist, allowing players to draw their own conclusions as they experience each mission. When going through the mission where the Flood is encountered for the first time, players feel completely alone, so once 343 Guilty Spark arrives, with no more information, one does indeed feel compelled to trust Guilty Spark and accept that activating Halo could stop the Flood. That players (and by extension, Master Chief) must trust Guilty Spark shows the vulnerability of people to isolation, and Halo excels at capturing this. Indeed, the human sides of aspect of Master Chief are explored much more thoroughly in the later Halo games (especially Halo 3 and Halo 4, as well as novels), but to see hints of his character even this early on speaks volumes to how well-written Halo is.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • I’ve gone through Halo‘s campaign at least six times, speaking to the game’s replay value: my story with Halo begins when I was in middle school, when one of my buddies got Halo 2 for Xbox and invited a bunch of us over to try it out. We spent the morning on Coagulation, a remake of Halo‘s Blood Gulch. At the time, none of us had enough familiarity to make use of the Battle Rifle, so most of the games were spent horsing around with the dual-wielded weapons and vehicles.

  • At the time, Halo had been out for just over three years, and I became curious after the fact: I eventually stumbled upon the Halo Trial, a free version of Halo that provided the Silent Cartographer mission and Blood Gulch multiplayer map. I spent hundreds of hours on Blood Gulch, mostly playing Saturday afternoons, and I ended up becoming good enough with the pistol and plasma grenades to single handedly control a given match by knocking banshees out of the skies. Eventually, curiosity led me to pick up a full version of Halo, and I found the campaign to be most engaging. Enjoyment of Halo prompted me to pick up Halo 2 when it became available on PC. Despite the simple graphics and mechanics, Halo remained mechanically engaging, changing the way I approached shooters.

  • The two-weapons limitation in Halo means players must always be mindful of their surroundings. Up until Halo, I played shooters where players could carry an entire armoury’s worth of equipment, leaving me well-equipped for all situations. Half-Life 2007 NightfireAgent Under Fire and GoldenEye 64 were the shooters I’d played up until that point, and since I always had long-range, short-range and anti-armour options available at all times, there were never points where I felt unprepared for a combat situation. By comparison, Halo allows players only two weapons at once.

  • Going through Pillar of Autumn with the anniversary edition graphics was a breath of fresh air: the original Halo was visually solid, but the graphics have not aged particularly well, and there are many areas that look very flat, simple. The updated graphics give environments much more detail and life; in general, they enhance the atmosphere of Halo considerably, such as the interior of the Pillar of Autumn here, which feels more like a sophisticated warship of the UNSC fleet, and here, through a window, the gas giant Threshold can be seen.

  • A part of the strategy, then, is knowing when to pick up or drop a weapon based on what the situation requires. For the first mission, the assault rifle and pistol are the starting weapons. The assault rifle behaves more similarly to a submachine gun, sporting a sixty-round magazine and high spread that makes it most useful for close quarters combat. On the other hand, the pistol is the most iconic weapon of Halo: with its twelve round magazine, 2x optics and high damage, it is effective at medium to long ranges: the 12.7 mm rounds are armour-piercing and explosive, allowing them to deal massive damage.

  • After leaving the Pillar of Autumn and touching down on the Halo ring itself, the landscapes of Halo‘s remaster become apparent. Outdoor environments feel richly populated and inviting, giving the Halo ring a more Earth-like feeling, with a thicker atmosphere and familiar weather patterns. However, there is a trade-off: the additional details in the sky means that the stars are far less visible, and the original Halo‘s visuals created a much more alien sky where the nearby sun and a star-filled sky were simultaneously visible.

  • One of the best features about Halo in The Master Chief Collection is the ability to freely switch between the classic and remastered visuals. There can be a slight lag as the assets are swapped out, but the process is otherwise seamless, and it was fun to compare between the two different styles. Once Master Chief lands on Halo, the first goal is to repel Covenant forces and regroup with the other Marines.

  • On all difficulties, I prefer running with the pistol and then a weapon suited for the situation at hand: the plasma rifle is a good all-around weapon for dropping shields and is fairly effective at damaging unshielded targets. In conjunction with the fact that it’s pretty common, it’s a fantastic choice for most missions. Here, I continue to defend marines while Covenant drop ships appear: in the original Halo, Covenant dropships are invulnerable to damage, and will take shots at the player. It is fun to rush on in and wipe the Covenant before they’ve had a chance to land (akin to shooting fast-ropers as they descend from a helicopter), but a smarter strategy is required on higher difficulties, since the fire from drop ships can strip one’s shields quickly.

  • While barren and dark in the original, the first major interior section of the Halo ring seen in Halo is richly detailed and has a significantly higher level of detail, conveying the styles of Forerunner architecture. Here, the goal is to activate a light bridge and continue across the chasm into the next section of the mission. I’m rocking a Needler here; while the Needler is overshadowed by the plasma rifle and pistol combination on standard difficulties, it is highly effective in legendary, since the needles will super-combine into a large explosion that can drop even Elites quickly.

  • The final section of the second mission allows players to pick up a sniper rifle. The Halo incarnation of the sniper rifle, the SRS99C-S2 AM (Sniper Rifle System 99C-S2 Anti-Matériel), is the only long-range solution available. As a gas-operated semi-automatic rifle firing 14.5 mm sabot rounds, the sniper rifle’s primary function is picking off enemies from distances, and finds the most efficacy when dealing with Elites and Hunters at long distances that are out of reach of the pistol.

  • Halo‘s third mission is the only time in the game where it’s possible to carry sixty addition rounds for the sniper rifle in reserve: the first section of the mission is a sniping one, as Master Chief engages Covenant Shade turrets from a distance so the marines don’t get torn apart by them. This mission sees a dramatic improvement in visual quality in the Anniversary edition: the desert canyons leading into the Truth and Reconciliation are now covered with vegetation, and things are generally much brighter, compared to the dark and barren designs of the original.

  • Of all the missions in the classic Halo, I’ve felt that the Truth and Reconciliation had some of the most basic graphics, and the mission itself wasn’t generally too enjoyable: the goal is to reach the ship’s brig and free Captain Keyes, so it involves a great deal of backtracking. The interior of the ship itself was very flat and dull in the classic, but the remastered edition gives the visuals a major improvement, to the point where the mission became a visual treat to play through.

  • It is very easy to get lost in the Covenant ship, but fortunately, the Covenant do not differ from humans in their use of symbolism: locked doors are denoted with a red light (red outline in the original), and so, it’s generally straightforwards to push towards the brig where Captain Keyes is held: following the green lights (white outlines in the original) will lead one to their destination.

  • In the narrow corridors of the Truth and Reconciliation, weapons like the plasma rifle and assault rifle are useful: while I don’t see the assault rifle as a reliable mid-range weapon, at close quarters, its rate of fire and large ammunition capacity makes it a solid choice for stopping unshielded targets. The Halo iteration of the rifle has a magazine capacity of sixty rounds, which is strange considering the fact that it fires 7.62 mm rounds.

  • Past the bridge of the ship lies the brig: the Covenant are fond of placing the bridges of their ships in the core, since this is where most of the commanding forces are, and in supplementary materials, Elites consider it strange that human vessels expose their bridges in vulnerable locations. From a real-world standpoint, the reason why the bridge of a ship is so exposed is to improve visibility for the vessel’s commanders, who’ve come to rely on sight to identify the battlefield situation, and this approach has carried over to even space-faring vessels, whereas the Elites, with their superior technology, can accommodate for the visuals using cameras and screens and therefore, can build their bridges at the heart of their vessels.

  • Of all the campaign levels in Halo, The Silent Cartographer is my personal favourite, being the most open in how players can approach the mission and also offering the most epic, emotionally-charged opening sequence. This is Halo‘s interpretation of Normandy, and while it may not be of the same scale, it carries all of the weight. As soon as players touch down and storm the beach with rifles blazing, one can truly get the sense that this is Halo. Things quiet down once the beach is cleared, and Echo 419 drops a Warthog to help players traverse the island more quickly.

  • The Warthog is the standard four-wheel drive vehicle for transport in Halo, and the most basic version is equipped with a Gatling gun. Highly mobile and speedy, the Warthog can deliver a blistering amount of firepower and enables for speedy movement around a map, but is also prone to flipping, requiring some degree of skill to operate. Owing to the physics engine in Halo, grazing any enemy, even at lower speeds, will kill them.

  • Rocket launchers and sniper rifles are the best way to engage Hunters, large, heavily armoured enemies composed of worm colonies that combine together to form massive organisms. They are equipped with a fuel-rod cannon capable of great destructive power and carry shields composed of the same metal from Covenant warships, making them nearly invulnerable to small arms fire. In the absence of heavier weapons or a vehicle, the easiest way to neutralise one is to get behind it and shoot at the exposed orange flesh: one pistol round is enough to stop these behemoths in their tracks if placed correctly.

  • Once players override the security system and enter the map chambers, there’s actually a very quick way to get to the map room: I typically go through the large shaft and jump down the map: there are a few platforms one can use to break their fall, and at the bottom of the area, adjacent to the passage way leading to the map room, there’s an overshield. Because activating the overshields render one invulnerable to all damage as the shields charge, landing on the overshield will negate all falling damage.

  • From here, it’s a simple matter of engaging the map room and then returning to the surface for extraction. My approach for The Silent Cartographer, while a time saver, does not even compare to the routes and methods speed-runners have used: this mission is one of the most fun to speed run, and using certain tricks to outrun certain events have allowed players to complete the mission in a matter of minutes.

  • The next mission, Assault on the Control room, is one of the lengthiest missions in all of Halo: Master Chief fights through legions of Covenant forces en route to the control room for Halo, and this mission is fully combat oriented, as Master Chief fights through the corridors of Halo’s facilities and the valleys between the canyons. Generally speaking, the pistol and plasma rifle will be the best choice of weapons, providing one with a combination of close quarters and medium range firepower in all environments, although there will be several occasions where it is prudent to switch the plasma rifle out for a sniper rifle or rocket launcher.

  • Not shown in this talk is the ability to drive the Scorpion MBT: these are the mainstay armour available to the UNSC and is functionally equivalent to the Covenant’s Wraith tank. The Wraith is not a usable vehicle in Halo, and compared to the Scorpion, offers superior mobility at the expense of accuracy and precision. Players do have the option of taking the Scorpion with them though a section of the fifth mission: the 90 mm cannon and its explosive damage makes it effective against everything the Covenant have to throw at it. Enemy Wraiths and Hunters stand no chance against the Scorpion from a distance.

  • The fifth mission really conveys a sense of cold, with the heavy snowfall and icicles on the terrain. It evokes a sense of chilliness during the summer months when I revisit the level, but by winter, the coldness of the air is even more noticeable and it feels as though I were actually in the canyons themselves, attesting to the strengths of the atmosphere in the game. Another aspect about Halo that stands out is the sound; this is especially noticeable in Halo‘s anniversary build. The sound was given an overhaul, and on the whole, all of the weapons sound more powerful. The sniper rifle gives an especially heavy and noticeable report, feeling like a proper anti-materiel rifle.

  • It is easy to get lost in the circular rooms within Halo, but there is fortunately a simple way to avoid getting lost: there are arrows on the ground that indicate which direction one should be going, and for this mission, following the arrows will lead one to their destination. There are several spots throughout the mission where one may find sleeping Grunts: they can be felled with a single melee attack, and doing so allows one to preserve a bit of stealth to get the drop on other enemies in the area.

  • After reaching the final canyon, Master Chief must fly a Banshee from the natural bridge to the control room. For the final part of the mission, I recommend keeping the sniper rifle handy, since a well-placed headshot can drop Elite minors quickly and stun Elite majors, making it easy to get a follow-up shot away. This is especially important, since the Elites can and will take Banshees from the player. Once the corridor to the control room is reached, and the defending Covenant forces defeated, the fifth mission will draw to a close.

  • When Master Chief arrives in the swamp, there’s immediately a sense of unease: Jackals and Grunts flee from an unseen foe, and there are no Elites in sight. Mysterious dots appear on the motion tracker, and upon entering the facility, there are corpses everywhere. The two most unsettling parts of the level are a corridor with Grunt blood splattered all over the walls, and a pile of Needlers with needle crystals, which is seen nowhere else in the game. As players move deeper into the facility, they’ll encounter Private Jenkins, who is delirious after encountering an unknown foe.

  • This foe is the Flood, an ancient parasitic life-form. Halo masterfully foreshadows, yet conceals, their appearance that when they first appear, it is a complete shock to players to the extent that some have likened it to as though in Pac-Man, the dots suddenly went rogue and began attacking the player. With Cortana absent, and no allied forces, Master Chief has never been more alone anywhere else in Halo: after the initial shock wears off, it’s time to fall back on the trusty assault rifle as waves of infection form burst into the room. The assault rifle may not have been terribly effective earlier, but now, with its high firing rate and magazine capacity, it is the optimal weapon for dealing with the swarms.

  • Combat forms also begin appearing. Players will initially have the M6D pistol available to them, and these are moderately effective at stopping the infection form until one acquires the shotgun. These mutated hosts form when an infection form takes control of a body, and are the most deadly form of the Flood, as they leap towards the player, and will attack with their tentacles and wield their host’s old weapons. The shotgun can stop combat forms dead in their tracks with one or two shells, and a single shotgun blast can even fell multiple combat forms if they are clustered together.

  • Even when downed, Flood combat forms can still get back up and rejoin a fight. Since Halo does not have the means of permanently destroying a downed combat form, the only solution is to continue shooting at them. True to their name, the Flood will spawn forever, and in the labyrinthine tunnels of this ancient Forerunner installation, getting lost can be a daunting thought. The path through the area to reach the surface is not explicitly clear, and while I’ve gone through the area numerous times on multiple play-throughs, the only solution I offer to folks unfamiliar with the map is to keep one’s wits about them: a quick trigger finger will be enough to dispose of the Flood long enough to work out an escape plan.

  • When I encountered the second elevator on my first play-though, I thought to myself, “finally, time to get out”. This actually led me deeper into the complex, so when I returned back to the surface and found myself facing marines, it was a very welcome sight. Sentinels begin appearing and will help to slow the Flood down, and Foehammer will tell players to head to an opening in the swamp for extraction, but before that can happen, Halo’s Monitor will appear and teleport Master Chief away as a part of Flood containment protocol.

  • The Library is a level I remember best for long, lengthy mission filled with dark corridors and an unending wave of Flood. In its original form, the Library was very easy to get lost in, and the shadowy environment gave it a very ominous feel. By comparison, the Anniversary Edition visuals give the Library better lighting: everything is well-lit. The end result is that the mission itself becomes less intimidating and also less frustrating to complete: a darker level meant hidden Flood that could wipe the player on a moment’s notice, increasing both the immersion and frustration.

  • The Library adds the Flood carrier form to Halo: these bloated, slow-moving monstrosities are easy to eliminate, but will explode and spread infection forms if they take any damage. The explosion is equivalent in strength and blast radius to a fragmentation grenade, making them useful in dispersing clusters of Flood. However, in close quarters, they present a threat to players, as well. Against the Flood in general, fragmentation grenades are the preferred way to go, as the Flood’s ceaseless rush means plasma grenades have a risk of being returned to the sender.

  • In times like these, self-discipline, fortitude, and remaining calm in adversity are vital to surviving challenges. Coupled with forward thinking, such as knowing what supplies and provisions to acquire, plus how to keep oneself busy while at home, the COVID-19 outbreak can be beaten. Back in Halo, I’ve found that a combination of shotgun and assault rifles, plus fragmentation grenades, are sufficient to keep the Flood at bay while making one’s way to the Index. Players know they’re getting close after the third elevator ride: the Library consists of four levels

  • The greatest challenge players will encounter in the Library will be combat forms carrying rocket launchers: these so-called “rocket Flood” are a major annoyance, and the community regards them as the bane of all existence in Halo, as they can make an otherwise survivable situation very challenging. Once players arrive at the Index, a torrent of Flood lie beyond the doors, and the time has come to be generous with ammunition and explosives. I suggest making a beeline for the Index, since the mission ends automatically once Master Chief gets close enough; it’s not worth fighting the Flood since they will continue spawning forever.

  • Back in the control room, Master Chief learns of Halo’s true purpose, and with Cortana’s information, refuses to activate the ring. Guilty Spark sics the remaining Sentinels against him: these automaton were mildly effective against the Flood earlier on, and their beams are relatively weak, but sustained fire will burn away Master Chief’s shields. Players start this mission with a plasma pistol, and this weapon, normally useful against shields, can be used to great effect against the Sentinels: one charged shot will disable a Sentinel, which are otherwise resistant to gunfire.

  • Cortana’s determined that the best way to stop Halo from firing is to destroy the ring. Despite their great size and strength, Halo rings are not invulnerable; Cortana estimates that the blast and temperatures generated by a fusion explosion will be enough to destabilise the ring and prevent it from firing. To this end, she proposes disabling several pulse generators that will buy her and Master Chief some time to retrieve Keyes’ neural implants and prime the Pillar of Autumn’s main reactor for detonation. This entails walking into the pulse generator, which drops  Master Chief’s shields.

  • The whole of the Two Betrayals mission is a retracing mission, sending players on more or less the reverse route seen during Assault on the Control Room. The only key difference here is that the mission is set at night and is a ways darker, and there’s a heavier Flood component. For most of this mission, the plasma rifle and shotgun combination is the most efficacious: while the plasma rifle does not have the assault rifle’s ability to sustain fire for longer, it remains effective against infection forms, and its main utility is that it is further useful in destroying Sentinels.

  • Two Betrayals is not one-to-one with Assault on the Control Room in that there are some areas players must use a Banshee to access: the pulse generators are located in platforms high above the canyon floor, and the only air vehicle in the game must be used to reach these rooms. Banshees are thankfully common in this mission, and will always be available where the player requires them. Overall, I found this to be the most uninspired mission of the remastered Halo: by now, the novelty of fighting the Flood has worn off, and the mission is a lengthier one.

  • The final pulse generator requires a banshee that is being protected by a pair of Wraiths. There is a rocket launcher and plenty of rockets available in the valley leading in, and I opted to flank right in order to get closer to the Wraiths without exposing myself to fire. Firing 102 mm rocket-propelled shaped charges, the M41 SPNKR Rocket Launcher is the most powerful weapon on a per-shot basis in Halo, and is capable of making one quick follow-up shot, as well, thanks to its rotating barrel assembly. The weapon excels against Hunters and enemy vehicles, but the rockets are slow-travelling, requiring a bit of leading to hit their target.

  • Halo‘s penultimate mission sends players back to the Truth and Reconciliation, which has now been infested with Flood and sustained severe damage, but otherwise remains space-worthy. Most of the Covenant have evacuated at this point, and special forces were sent in to clear the ship of the Flood. It is under these circumstances that Master Chief joins the fight, and with a massive hole blasted into it, players must navigate the coolant-filled canyons below the ship.

  • After a harrowing fight through the canyons, a pair of Hunters blocks the way to the gravity lift leading back into the Truth and Reconciliation. There is, fortunately, a sniper rifle available: after dropping the two Hunters, it is prudent to discard the rifle in favour of a weapon suited for close quarters engagements. The sniper rifle, for all of its stopping power and range, is useless against the flood: the high-velocity sabot will pass right through the Flood’s biomass without causing any damage.

  • Captain Keyes’ vast knowledge of the UNSC means that the Flood recognises him as a potential host for a proto-Gravemind and have moved his biomass to the ship’s bridge. Throughout the mission, Keyes can be heard imploring Master Chief to stand down, suggesting that he is able to resist the Flood’s influence. Once Master Chief retrieves Keyes’ neural implants, the proto-Gravemind is deprived of criticial military intelligence, and later on, is destroyed by the Covenant.

  • As the missions wear on in Halo, the situation against the Flood becomes increasingly desperate, and the revelation that the Flood might be able to take control of a starship is a terrifying one. For humans, the spread of disease ranks high on our list of fears, alongside war and crime, so the Flood’s presence in Halo is especially terrifying, playing to our fear of things that defy our ability to understand and control.

  • Because individual Flood are weak and easily dispatched, I’ve likened the Flood infestation to Twitter and Reddit mobs, with their spread of misinformation: it is simple enough to destroy them one-to-one, but their numbers are overwhelming and pervasive. To be fighting the Flood with standard weapons is ultimately a gesture that can only buy time, similar to fighting those who spread misinformation on social media. On board the Truth and Reconciliation, there is very little point in holding an area: endlessly spawning Flood make the mission difficult, and the best strategy I have for this mission is to always push forwards to the next area as soon as one is able.

  • Returning to the Pillar of Autumn holds a degree of melancholy, to see the UNSC ship in such disrepair. By this point, the ship was no longer space-worthy, having been damaged by Covenant weaponry and the crash landing. Despite this, much of the ship’s interior remains largely intact, attesting to the ship’s toughness. In this final mission, Covenant, Flood and Sentinels will be countered. The best loadout going through this mission is a combination of the shotgun and plasma rifle.

  • After reaching the bridge, Cortana will attempt to remotely detonate the Pillar of Autumn’s fusion reactors, but this is blocked by Guilty Spark. Fortunately, the manual option always exists, and so, Master Chief fights through hordes of Flood and Covenant, with the occasional Sentinel, to reach the reactor room. There is an armoury nearby with rocket launchers and grenades available: the key here is to use the computer consoles to pull back the reactor coupling and hit the vents with ordinance, which damages the manifold and the core itself.

  • Strictly speaking, a rocket launcher is not necessary: a well-placed fragmentation grenade will be more than enough to damage the manifold, and this approach also allows one to carry an additional weapon, rather than taking one of the weapons slots available and therefore limiting one’s options to fight the Flood and Sentinels in the reactor room. However, the rocket launcher does have its advantages, being a ranged solution that allows the manifold to be hit from further away. Once all four are destroyed, the reactor will begin going critical and it’s time to leave.

  • The drive from the vehicle room to the exit is one of the most iconic missions in Halo and a thrilling one: it’s a race against the clock and will demand a player’s full understanding of driving mechanics in Halo to safely make the journey. I remember this mission best for having played it after a Christmas party with my classmates during my days as a health sciences student: after imbibing three drinks the night before, I woke up the next day, close to noon, with the emperor of all headaches, and played through this mission in an attempt to distract me from the hangover. Since then, I’ve not had more than one drink in any social events.

  • After a lengthy drive, I reach the remaining Longsword in the Pillar of Autumn’s rear hanger with a minute to spare. Boarding it brought my experience of Halo‘s campaign, in the Anniversary graphics, to an end. I liken this experience most to the difference between Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros 2 and Super Mario Bros 3, which was similarly remastered in Super Mario All-Stars: in both cases, classics were given a new set of visuals while retaining classic game-play and were compiled together into one fantastic volume. The PC version of The Master Chief Collection would be most analogous to the upgraded Super Mario All-Stars that included Super Mario WorldHalo 4 is set to be a part of The Master Chief Collection, and will likely not be given too many upgrades owing to the fact it’s still relatively recent (rather like how Super Mario World was not given a visual overhaul when it was included with Super Mario All-Stars).

Overall, while simple by contemporary standards, Halo pioneered features that have become commonplace in modern games. The idea of a regenerating energy shield became all the rage in shooters following Halo, as it allowed players to focus on positioning and movement over locating badly-needed medical kits. Carrying two weapons at once forced players to carefully consider their weapon selection as they moved to a new area: weapons effective in some situations may become completely ineffective in others, and weapons that may appear useless most of the game can occasionally be superbly effective under some conditions. Even in its classic form, Halo has aged very gracefully: shooting and movement feels smooth for a game of its age, and with the remastered graphics, Halo does not feel like a nine-year-old game, much less a nineteen-year-old game. I admit that Halo‘s addition to The Master Chief Collection was somewhat unexpected, but not unwelcome: the original Halo is where it all started, and it was such a phenomenal experience to be able to go through the remastered Halo with updated visuals and sounds, treading through familiar maps that I spent countless hours playing during my time as a high school student, except now, every level has been given a fresh coat of paint. The game might not look as sharp as something like Battlefield or Crysis, but Halo retains all of its magic, and its campaign has near-infinite replay value, especially when co-op is taken into consideration. Having gone through co-op, I can say that the feature is seamless, as smooth as the classic Xbox experience. The addition of classic Halo to the Master Chief Collection on PC is one I’ve been anticipating for quite some time, and with this one now in the books, the next Halo title will be Halo 2, which, as far as I’m concerned, has the best multiplayer experience of any Halo ever made. For Halo 2, I will naturally be going through the campaign and writing about that, but this time, I will also make a more concerted effort to enjoy the multiplayer component, which I feel to be the best of any Halo game.

4 responses to “Review and Reflections on The Master Chief Collection: Halo Combat Evolved

  1. mattdoylemedia March 17, 2020 at 04:43

    I came to halo through the Master Chief collection on Xbox One, myself. I’d actually gone off FPS titles when it first came out so I never gave it a look-in until I saw my brother playing it years later. Definitely a lot of fun.


    • infinitezenith March 18, 2020 at 15:17

      The joys of a single-player shooter experience is that in the end, it’s just you, and whatever the game throws at you. Halo excels at crafting this experience. At least for me, this is where the fun comes from 🙂

      If you have the entire Master Chief Collection on Xbox, let me be the first to say that, prior to the announcement of a PC version, I would’ve been incredibly jealous of you! Until now, the only way I would be able to play Halo outside of Halo and Halo 2 on PC would’ve been to go to a friend’s place, as I don’t have an Xbox (or 360, or Xbox One). This is why the Master Chief Collection is such a big deal for me: it’s letting me relive my youth again, but on a PC!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. mattdoylemedia March 18, 2020 at 15:37

    It really does, and I tend to prefer that to team games.
    When I bought the console it came with Minecraft and another shooter. I forget which one, but I traded it in for Master Chief.
    Reliving your youth can be fun, and this is a good one to do it with.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: DOOM Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part II, Showdown with the Dark Lord and Thoughts on Closing Date | The Infinite Zenith

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