Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One is the best video game bargain since Valve's Orange Box. Four Halo games with updated visuals, running at 1080p and 60 fps, for the price of a single game. Not too shabby.
The Xbox One exclusive from new Halo lead studio 343 Industries has taken Bungie's Halo 1, 2 and 3, and their own Halo 4, to create an anthology of games starring iconic series lead Master Chief. Better still, every single player mission will be unlocked from the start, with curated playlists grouping together similar missions – vehicle-led ones, Flood-based ones, the final missions etc.
In light of this and today's (11 November) release of the game, we've picked our nine favourite Halo missions (from Halo 1-4) for you delve back into, presented in an order that would make one hell of a playlist.
Halo - Halo: Combat Evolved
Where it all really begins. Halo famously starts with a fake out, set largely in grey linear corridors that while still fun, made it look like most other shooters on the market. What that mission does however is teach you the basics before setting you down in the huge expanse of the Halo structure's surface, setting the stage for an epic battle to follow. That sense of awe is the perfect place to start.
The Storm – Halo 3
Speaking of awe, few Halo moments match that first encounter with the Scarab in Halo 3 - a massive and mobile Covenant mining platform dripping with armour and guns. After an initial vehicular skirmish in a large enclosed arena, the Covenant drop a Scarab on you and suddenly the arena seems a hell of a lot smaller. Chaos ensues, but after a perilous plunge from a nearby structure you find yourself on board the Scarab and able to destroy it.
Reclaimer – Halo 4
Halo 4 gets a lot of stick, but its campaign is a perfectly robust and undoubtedly beautiful addition to the Halo series. This largely vehicle-based level, representing the campaign's focal point, follows chief through an expanse of landscape on Requiem as an enormous UNSC vehicle, called a Mammoth, rolls through Covenant and Promethean forces. One of the best-paced and most exciting missions on this list.
Keyes – Halo: Combat Evolved
One of Halo's darker moments comes when Chief embarks on a mission to rescue Captain Keyes from the Flood-infested Truth and Reconciliation, a Covenant ship. Battling through both Covenant forces and the parasitic Flood, Chief eventually finds Keyes - too late to save him from being assimilated into the Flood hive mind.
Outskirts – Halo 2
After an entire game set on an alien installation, one of Halo 2's key selling points was a return to Earth. Naturally, given this is Bungie, that return was marked in epic style with a mission encompassing everything that makes Halo great. It also, once again, has a fight with a Scarab – the series' first in fact – and it's not the last we'll see of them either. Fighting alongside marines, Chief helps fight back against Covenant forces invading the Kenyan city of New Mombasa.
The Great Journey – Halo 2
Time for a little Arbiter. It's only fair the series' second playable character gets a mention on this list and to best showcase his BAMF qualities we've gone for Halo 2's finale. Arbiter fights alongside Sergeant Major Johnson on the Delta Halo to find Covenant villain Tartarus and stop the activation of all the Halo rings, which will end of all life in the universe.
Two Betrayals – Halo: Combat Evolved
As we near the end of our list we need to ramp up the 'epic' factor a bit, so next up is the monster mission that signifies the start of the original Halo's final act. Showcasing everything that makes Halo such a popular and enduring franchise, this snow-covered level in fact plays out in the same location as previous mission Assault on the Control Room, but in reverse. Two Betrayals is better than that makes it sound however. It is epic, but not quite as epic as...
The Covenant – Halo 3
The Halo series' quintessential large scale battle takes place in The Covenant's closing moments as Chief approaches his target only to have not one, but two Scarabs descend on him and all out vehicular warfare engulf the area. Two Scarabs provides enough of a problem, but throw in a near constant stream of grunts, hunters, jackals and ghosts and suddenly you feel part of a war like no other moment in the series.
Halo – Halo 3
Bungie's trilogy-ender is a mission evoking the final moments of Halo: Combat Evolved and named after the second mission of that same game. The mission takes the race against time concept of Halo: CE finale The Maw and re-envisions it with the swagger Bungie had accumulated over two previous games. The disintegrated Halo falling from beneath you, the thrill of driving a Warthog perfectly through the obstacles - no other Halo finishes on such a high.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection is out now on Xbox One.