Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Game Talk #8: The Master Chief Collection

So, right off the bat, fuck this collection.

It took me a while to pick this one up, so I managed to avoid the initial batch of fuck-ups that made the online mode basically unplayable for weeks. But it didn't stop there.

One thing I'd like to take a moment to speak about: Making games is hard. I get that. Even when you've got hundreds of highly skilled pros and millions of dollars, it isn't easy. It's time consuming, laborious and grueling. More often than not, games are a labor of love. Although I don't have extensive, in-depth knowledge of how games are made, I've picked up some facts here and there, and I know how crazy it can be.

I'm also fully aware of how god-awful the gaming community is when it comes to a sense of entitlement. A lot of people make a lot of dumbass assumptions and flip out when everything isn't immediately perfect and hand-delivered to them right away. Not every gamer, hopefully not even most, but enough that it's a problem.

Keep in mind that I very actively try to erase entitlement from my life, because entitlement is a waste of time. Besides causing a lot of problems and making you look like a jackass, it's a completely unfounded belief. The universe doesn't owe anyone shit.

So, anyway.

If you've read my Production Notes about the making of Not Alone, you know that I ran into a lot of problems with the Master Chief Collection. And that's really the core of the issue. That, and the fact that it's just really clear they cut as many corners as they thought they could get away with. Even after the whole thing with multiplayer being virtually unplayable for weeks upon weeks, there are still a lot of glitches out there.

Both my wife and I have had several different stats wiped out, reset to zero after racking up hundreds of grenade kills or melee kills or any of the other stuff the game tracks, for no apparent reason. More than once.

Then there's all the cut corners. Customization in Halo 3 was reduced to almost nothing. In actual Halo 3, you could customize your armor set, swapping out different parts to create a more unique look. In the MCC version, you are forced to get one set. Then, on top of that, you are no longer allowed to choose your emblem. And it's like this in all of the games.

On top of that, I kept running into weird, unfixable glitches in Forge Mode. And then I found out that there's no Theater mode in Halo 1 or 2. I actually get not putting Forge Mode in either of those games, because they didn't exist natively in those games originally and it would take a lot of work, but come on, 343i, you could have at least put in theater mode.

The list goes on, really.

What did I like about it? Well, it was basically functional, (eventually), and gave me easy access to almost every Halo game, and access to older versions of Halo online multiplayer, so that was cool. It also made machinima a lot easier after it cut out the need for a capture device. And Halo 2 remastered was just fantastic looking. The cutscenes were stunning...although I have to admit, one thing that stood out A LOT was some people's faces.

This is the best picture I could find as an example. Really, it's kind of hard to tell just from pictures, but just go watch some cutscenes from the game to see what I mean. The worst are Miranda, Lord Hood and that one Marine freaking out on the bridge, right before you get the tank. Sergeant Johnson looks good, at least. I'm not quite sure how to explain it, it's just that there's something, about some of their faces. Something creepy. There's probably some uncanny valley going on.

Anyway, I try not to complain without offering some form of being helpful, so here is how I think they could have handled the whole thing better.

Don't fucking make The Master Chief Collection.

Seriously, it's obvious that they crammed for this, no doubt desperately trying to put everything together to make the Halo 2 anniversary release date. They shouldn't have done that, because holy god does it show that they didn't have nearly enough time to do this.

They should have simply released Halo 2: Anniversary Edition as a stand-alone title for 40$ just like they did for Halo: CE Anniversary Edition back in '11. Then make Halo, Halo 3, ODST and Reach backwards compatible, and THEN, when Halo 3's ten year anniversary comes around, release something like The Master Chief Collection, and be working on it slowly but surely in the background alongside other projects. Because MCC's release was pretty unacceptable, and the way they handled it afterward was unacceptable as well, (they made a few token repairs to the game and threw ODST at us for 5$).

But I can't say I blame 343i necessarily. I'm sure it was Microsoft that was pressuring them to get it done on time for the ship-date.

So, overall, I can't really recommend this game...not that has any bearing seeing as it's been over two years since it released and we've all moved on. (Well, for the most part.)

The Master Chief Collection is also unique in that it was the last Halo game I ever purchased.

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