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Full Digital Foundry analysis HMCC (Halo 1/2/H2A/3/4) - What works/What doesn't

Kayant

Member
Feb 25, 2014
6,015
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Lots of info - Recommend reading - http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2014-what-works-and-what-doesnt-in-halo-the-master-chief-collection

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
As the original game in the Halo franchise, Halo: Combat Evolved also comes with the most baggage - it's nearly 14 years old and has been ported several times over with varying degrees of success. In fact, the version of Halo included in The Master Chief Collection is actually a port of a port - Saber Interactive's Halo Anniversary for Xbox 360 converted over to the Xbox One. It seems like a straightforward enough project, but it's clear that the team has encountered a few problems along the way, resulting in a remaster that isn't all it could have been. We still enjoyed reliving the original Halo experience, however, and most importantly the core elements of the original Halo have been carried over successfully.
What works:

Image quality: It's Halo Combat Evolved at 1080p. Unlike Halo 2 Anniversary, both the classic and Anniversary modes have been upgraded to support full 1080p and they look smashing. Assets haven't received any additional improvements over the Xbox 360 version of the game, of course, but it looks and runs much better than it did on either of Microsoft's previous consoles. Crucially, the classic multiplayer maps, including the full set of PC-exclusive maps, have made their way into the collection and are playable online. It's as complete a collection of Halo: Combat Evolved as one could hope for.

What doesn't:

Split-screen performance: Halo CE multiplayer was built on split-screen and it's how many people played it originally. This feature is thankfully maintained here, but it doesn't work as well as one might hope. In classic mode, performance is mostly acceptable with a slightly unstable 60fps, but in Anniversary mode it can become downright choppy. Frame-rate dips below 30fps occur regularly with torn frames appearing primarily along the top half of the screen (sorry, player one). It feels jittery and difficult to enjoy when using this mode and we'd have to recommend sticking to classic visuals if that's how you want to play. At least it uses a rather wide field of view that doesn't restrict either players' viewpoint.
Halo 2 Anniversary
We've already taken an extended look at the excellent remastering of Halo 2, but coverage of The Master Chief Collection as a complete package wouldn't be complete without its inclusion. We were quite impressed with the work done on this project and feel that it is the most impressive piece in the collection. Unlike the original Anniversary, the new art created for Halo 2 feels much more in line with Bungie's original assets, which - by the way - haven't held up particularly well. Delivering fairly solid performance, beautifully remastered visuals and audio, and the Halo 2 gameplay you expect, Halo 2 Anniversary is a success.
What works:

Shadows: Halo 2 was initially designed with the idea that objects could cast and receive shadows but this was eliminated due to lack of horsepower. Halo 2 Anniversary makes this a reality and gives the game world the depth it could have used in the first place. It makes a big difference in the presentation and the fact that even particles receive shadows goes a long way towards making a cohesive presentation.

Audio design:It's not only the visuals that have received an overhaul. Halo 2's entire soundscape has been re-crafted for this remaster and the results are generally quite good. What really makes this work, though, is the fact that jumping back to classic mode switches to the original Xbox audio allowing you to both see and hear the difference. While it would have been nice to mix and match the audio mixes, it's still a great feature.

What doesn't:

Split-screen performance: As with Halo CE, the split-screen frame-rate in Halo 2 is rather poor. In Anniversary mode we found performance improved on average compared to Halo CE but it never really feels particularly smooth. Unfortunately, the classic mode also suffers from performance issues this time meaning that there's no way to enjoy a full 60fps split-screen mode with Halo 2. It should also be noted that, while the field of view is wider than the original Xbox game, it still feels somewhat narrow compared to Halo CE Anniversary.
Halo 3
Halo 3 marks the series' first outing on the Xbox 360 and stands as one of the most ambitious titles of its day. Bungie introduced its next-generation renderer, with Halo 3 using two 1152x640 frame buffers to more accurately simulate high quality HDR lighting, to breathtaking effect. The studio also introduced Forge mode for the first time in addition to the in-game DVR functions. The feature set was vast and impressive but the game was never quite perfect on the performance and image quality side. A low resolution in combination with minor frame-rate troubles ultimately kept the game from feeling as polished as it could have been. This was also the game that left people wondering whether or not Bungie could model the human face properly. Still, it's an amazing Halo experience and it's fantastic to finally have an enhanced version of the title available.
What works:

Frame-rate: Halo 3 delivers a smooth 60fps and, more than any other game in this collection, holds it the vast majority of the time. Halo 3 on the 360 ran at 30fps but suffered from noticeable frame-pacing issues that prevented it from ever feeling completely stable, and this too has been eliminated. The one exception seems to be the beach landing in 'The Covenant' mission, where frame-rate drops into 50fps territory or worse.

What doesn't:

No additional enhancements: This is a no-frills port of Halo 3 that makes no attempt to address some of the issues with the original game. Foliage and scenery detail features an aggressive LOD system that becomes more distracting at a higher resolution and we would have liked to see these details pushed out a bit. Additional modern rendering techniques, such as ambient occlusion, would also have made a world of difference, especially with the indoor sequences.

Lack of anisotropic filtering: Halo 3 makes use of flat, open areas that would have benefitted tremendously from a bit of AF. Texture work is compromised greatly by the lack of it and results in lost texture detail throughout. Without dense foliage or other details to help cover the terrain, many of the hills and structures of Halo 3 wind up looking less detailed than they otherwise could have as a result.
Halo 4
Halo 4 stands as perhaps the single most impressive technical showpiece on the Xbox 360. 343 Industries were given a massive budget and plenty of time to create a game that pushed the visual envelope of the system while attempting to adhere to Halo's penchant for large maps. Halo 4 is an interesting piece of the collection as it represents an attempt at porting one of the most technically advanced 360 titles to a new console - not unlike Naughty Dog's attempts with The Last of Us Remastered. Unfortunately, Ruffian wasn't quite as successful as the Dogs, and Halo 4 on Xbox One suffers from a few problems.
What works:

Image quality: Halo 4 already featured excellent image quality on the 360 and the bump up to full 1080p elevates it further. This improvement really helps reveal how impressively detailed the game's assets originally were. Visual quality was high enough that the Halo 4 engine actually served as the basis on which the Halo 2 Anniversary multiplayer maps were built. One cutback sees the water animation completely absent - a shame, especially bearing in mind that this was already pared back in the original Xbox 360 title compared to Halo 3.

What doesn't:

Frame-rate: Halo 4 aims for 60fps, as with the rest of the package, but fails to deliver a consistent experience. The game appears to struggle in two different areas - decompressing data while entering a new area and simply handling the load of heavy combat. Nearly any time the player walks into a new, large arena, the game engine seems to buckle under load, resulting in substantial frame-rate dips all the way to the 30s. These drops can persist for upwards of 20-30 seconds and definitely impact the initial moments of many battles. Even once that has settled, the performance often struggles to maintain a stable 60fps, producing frame-rates in the 50s pretty regularly. There are times when the game feels just perfect, of course, but these dips occur far too regularly for our liking, and there's the feeling that what could have been a stunning Xbox One conversion just feels a touch too unpolished.
[60fps] Halo 4: The Master Chief Collection Multi-Level Frame-Rate Tests
[60fps] Halo 3: The Master Chief Collection Multi-Level Frame-Rate Tests
[60fps] Halo 2 Anniversary Xbox One Master Chief Collection Multi-Level Frame-Rate Test
[60fps] Halo 1: The Master Chief Collection Multi-Level Frame-Rate Tests

Lock if old
 

maneil99

Banned
Mar 30, 2013
5,364
0
0
Canada
Split screen in this collection sucks. Shoulda been locked to 30fps.
This game was rushed. 15.9gb update, servers that dont work, fps drops in all games, party issues, team balance issues, Halo CE FoV issues in split screen. Halo CE netcode issues, the list goes on, this is a awful launch.
 

hwalker84

Member
Apr 25, 2007
12,203
1
1,110
36
Pittsburgh
Shameful performance.

Halo 4 was dropping all kinds of frames when I played the first level last night. Also noticed some in Halo 1 and 2.

Coupled with the multiplayer issues. This game is quickly ruining Halo and 343's reputation.
 

JP

Member
Mar 7, 2010
6,737
168
0
The good points for the collection for me are simply that it's Halo and that;s enough. Going to have to be honest and say that I can't think of anything else about it that I'm impressed with, just get the feeling that 343 are probably not the right people to be dealing with Halo. :(
 

Unmoses

Member
Oct 30, 2013
167
2
270
Shameful performance.

Halo 4 was dropping all kinds of frames when I played the first level last night. Also noticed some in Halo 1 and 2.

Coupled with the multiplayer issues. This game is quickly ruining Halo and 343's reputation.
Good lord.. I would say the opposite- the fact that it is released and with so much content and for the most part excellent performance should *enhance* their reputations
 

Pez

Member
Jun 3, 2013
788
0
0
Yeah, 343 rushed this one out the door (same as Nightfall). Losing faith in their ability to actually "produce" anything.
 

GnawtyDog

Banned
Feb 18, 2014
8,485
0
0
Yeah, 343 rushed this one out the door (same as Nightfall). Losing faith in their ability to actually "produce" anything.
Halo 5 will have arguably 3 years of development. Not sure how they can fuck up. If they do then it will be inexcusable.
 

TheIdleMiner

Neo Member
Nov 1, 2013
141
0
0
I enjoyed the few games I got to enjoy today. I want to be disappointed at the shortfalls, but for the price and content alone I'll just be perturbed.
 

VisceralBowl

Member
Sep 30, 2012
7,384
1
490
earth
The stuttering/drops in campaign are killing me. They should have had an optional 30 fps cap and some extra dev time to work on the collection.
 

Seventy70

Member
Jul 27, 2014
3,018
0
0
The split screen framerate was expected. I was really amazed that there are no black bars though when playing split screen, which is a MAJOR improvement.
 

hawk2025

Member
Jan 20, 2013
15,489
0
0
The split screen framerate was expected. I was really amazed that there are no black bars though when playing split screen, which is a MAJOR improvement.


It was?

Because nothing of the sort was mentioned at *any* point since the game was revealed.
 

Trey

Member
Mar 3, 2010
27,657
356
790
Split screen fps less than spectacular in Anniversary mode, eh?

As a whole, better than I feared. If matchmaking gets fixed satisfactorily, I'm still in for this and an Xbox One.
 

Peterpan

Member
Feb 26, 2013
657
0
0
Good lord.. I would say the opposite- the fact that it is released and with so much content and for the most part excellent performance should *enhance* their reputations
When its good, they really never did much of it anyway how can it redeem them, when its bad its usually all 343i fault.
 

El_Chino

Member
Jan 22, 2012
8,447
0
510
Is this package perfect? No. But it has many more positive than it does negatives which people fail to see.

The matchmaking should be fixed soon hopefully.
 

Appleman

Member
May 18, 2011
2,486
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0
Toronto, Ontario
Was seriously considering picking up an XBO for this, but I'm super disappointed with the performance issues. Wish they'd tested four-player split screen just to see how bad it really is :/
 

farisr

Member
Nov 5, 2011
10,189
1
545
Yet again splitscreen gets screwed. Did not expect this from Halo.

Was looking forward to this so much simply because of splitscreen, which many games don't include or are cutting down on these days. I'm sorry, this pretty much ruins the whole remaster for me.

And they don't care cause they already got my money.
 

SwiftDeath

Member
May 31, 2013
23,628
0
0
I wonder if they could offer a lock to 30fps option in the games as that may be beneficial to the split-screen playthroughs.
 

ironcreed

Banned
Jun 4, 2011
30,337
2
0
Eh, glad I decided to wait on this. I have already played all 4 games anyway and have too much to play this Fall as it is.
 

Exile20

Member
Jun 7, 2013
10,887
0
0
Welp. Urge to purchase an xbox this month definitely dropping.
Same here. I really enjoy halo but wow. Playing with IRL friends is going to suck hard.

Shit frame rate and bad matchmaking is a clear sign to stay away at least until a patch.
 

mrklaw

MrArseFace
Jun 10, 2004
59,901
0
0
Windsor, UK
Split screen in this collection sucks. Shoulda been locked to 30fps.
This game was rushed. 15.9gb update, servers that dont work, fps drops in all games, party issues, team balance issues, Halo CE FoV issues in split screen. Halo CE netcode issues, the list goes on, this is a awful launch.
Shit, that was how I was planning to play it. Reading that they recommend playing with classic graphics on a bloody Xbox one is pretty damn sad.

Kinda glad I hedged and bought physical. May be traded in quicker than expected
 
Jun 27, 2010
41,276
0
0
Shameful performance.

Halo 4 was dropping all kinds of frames when I played the first level last night. Also noticed some in Halo 1 and 2.

Coupled with the multiplayer issues. This game is quickly ruining Halo and 343's reputation.
Yeah, 343 rushed this one out the door (same as Nightfall). Losing faith in their ability to actually "produce" anything.
You mean Saber, Certain Affinity and Ruffian.

343 are to blame for the matchmaking issues. They didn't work on development for the games, that was Saber (H2A), Certain Affinity (Halo 2 MP) and Ruffian (Halo 3 and 4)
 

shandy706

Member
May 3, 2011
15,994
1
0
Clemson Tiger Country
Yeah, 343 rushed this one out the door (same as Nightfall). Losing faith in their ability to actually "produce" anything.
I really doubt this was rushed out the door.

It sounds like a solid effort that could use some tweaks.

Thankfully we have the technology to patch games now. The matchmaking will worry me if it's not working well within a few days (or what I'm sure will be a touch-up patch). We'll see how that goes.

I look forward to picking it up in December.
 

Seventy70

Member
Jul 27, 2014
3,018
0
0
It was?

Because nothing of the sort was mentioned at *any* point since the game was revealed.
The split screen framerate wasn't mentioned, but when you think about it, the console has to render two games at once, so the chance of getting a solid 60fps was slim. I didn't find the split screen framerate unplayable or anything. It's plays like a typical 30-60fps (I'm estimating here). A 30fps lock option for split screen would be nice though.
I really doubt this was rushed out the door.

It sounds like a solid effort that could use some tweaks.

Thankfully we have the technology to patch games now. The matchmaking will worry me if it's not working well within a few days (or what I'm sure will be a touch-up patch). We'll see how that goes.

I look forward to picking it up in December.
I agree. After playing and really disliking Halo 4 when it came out for its lack of polish, I was pleasantly surprised with this. The menus are clean and there are LOTS of options. There are a few bugs here and there, but nothing that can't be worked out.
They really fucked this up, huh.

Lucky I didn't buy an Xbone for it. I was close!
ummmmmm..........
 

Sotha_Sil

Member
Sep 2, 2013
3,362
0
0
They really fucked this up, huh.

Lucky I didn't buy an Xbone for it. I was close!
I was considering an Xbone too, where the MCC would make up for slightly lesser-performing multiplats. Turns out I won't. I really couldn't care less about split-screen, but the regular drops in all four games are disappointing to see. I'm sure the server issues will resolve themselves quickly.
 

alterno69

Banned
Apr 2, 2007
5,704
0
0
I'm starting to regret this purchase, split screen was the main reason i bought this to play with my son but the performance is not ideal. I can't believe it's still 4:3 in Halo 4 for example. What improvements did they actually do over the original code anyway? I'd rather have the original games as they were released running in 1080p and locked 60FPS in every mode.
 

DopeyFish

Not bitter, just unsweetened
Jun 6, 2004
37,147
1
0
I was considering an Xbone too, where the MCC would make up for slightly lesser-performing multiplats. Turns out I won't. I really couldn't care less about split-screen, but the regular drops in all four games are disappointing to see. I'm sure the server issues will resolve themselves quickly.
the framerate of the MCC games is still higher than any other console release of their respective games. Drops included.
 

farisr

Member
Nov 5, 2011
10,189
1
545
Depends on what you were looking forward to. If you were looking forward to splitscreen, they completely messed up. If you were looking forward to playing alone on your system, maybe not so much.

Even if the average framerate is higher in splitscreen compared to the originals, it's the inconsistency that messes it up/makes it worse.
 

Z3M0G

Member
Jan 16, 2012
9,748
39
505
Split screen in this collection sucks. Shoulda been locked to 30fps.
This game was rushed. 15.9gb update, servers that dont work, fps drops in all games, party issues, team balance issues, Halo CE FoV issues in split screen. Halo CE netcode issues, the list goes on, this is a awful launch.
What? Seriously? Point me to the drama!
 
Jun 27, 2010
41,276
0
0
H2A seems pretty solid for the most part. Didn't notice as many drops compared to H4.

That's good enough for me, H4 is garbage, doubt I'll ever be playing that travesty again.
 
Jun 27, 2010
41,276
0
0
I'm starting to regret this purchase, split screen was the main reason i bought this to play with my son but the performance is not ideal. I can't believe it's still 4:3 in Halo 4 for example. What improvements did they actually do over the original code anyway? I'd rather have the original games as they were released running in 1080p and locked 60FPS in every mode.
If you're not happy, ask for a refund.
 

Noobcraft

Member
Nov 9, 2013
8,993
0
0
Noticed the jankiness in H4, I'll probably wait for a performance update before I keep playing it.

Halo CE played excellently in the online co-op session I did, and H2A MP is solid too when matchmaking decides to work. (Just failed to connect in a full BTB lobby D:) somebody hold me :(
 

Foshy

Member
May 6, 2012
6,479
0
470
Zurich, Switzerland
Hm, shame about the splitscreen. That's the thing i was interested in the most. Any chance they'll patch it? I'm not expecting wonders (steady 60 fps isn't happening), but at least to an acceptable level. I'd be ok with a 30 fps lock too, I guess.
 
Jun 27, 2010
41,276
0
0
I won't, i`m sure my son will still enjoy it but i can't help but feel shafted anyway.
If you feel shafted, ask for a refund. Seems silly to keep a game you're not happy with. It'll only lead to a festering bitterness.

Noticed the jankiness in H4, I'll probably wait for a performance update before I keep playing it.
That's just Halo 4. They can't patch that...
 

QuikNez

Member
Nov 24, 2013
558
0
280
Shameful performance.

Halo 4 was dropping all kinds of frames when I played the first level last night. Also noticed some in Halo 1 and 2.

Coupled with the multiplayer issues. This game is quickly ruining Halo and 343's reputation.
For $60, the value is unbeatable; the kinks will be worked out in time.

Given the ambitious nature of the MCC production, I have a hard time pointing the finger at 343.

These posts pain me.