True story: I got into Halo because it was the first game I played that allowed local multiplayer with more than 4 people. Sure, there were PC games that allowed LANs and the possibility of playing with up to 64 people…but I don’t particularly like playing with anonymous strangers and prefer to play with friends who are within punching distance. So, when I got the original Xbox back in 2004 and had 7 people to enjoy a game of classic Halo, it was one of the best times ever.
Another true story: When Ben, Steve and I were planning the Halo MCC LAN, we talked about possibly forgoing Xbones for regular 360’s. After all, we already had the games and controllers for 360’s whereas an Xbone approach would require an investment in controllers. Ultimately, we decided to go with the Xbones for the sake of convenience. It was nice to have all the games and maps on a single console and not having to worry about switching discs or which 360 needed to be updated to the current version of the game or any of the other shit that makes gaming today a giant hassle.
At least, that was the theory. What ended up happening was the party ended up starting nearly an hour late because Halo MCC does not support LAN-based multiplayer. One of the draws of the original Halo was how easy it was to hook up two Xbox’s via System Link cable (or use a router to hook up more). However, in this more modern civilized age where every fucking device has to connect to the Internet, we can’t have easy shit like that happen! No, we needed to have Xbox Live gold accounts (we ended up using free trial codes). It’s a very odd design choice to have a series of games that support LAN multiplayer in a collection that no longer supports it.
Once we got all that out of the way, we had a lot of fun. The maps loaded quickly and the games went pretty well. The game only crashed once on Steve’s console and we suspect it was because of a controller issue (something to do with console registering the left trigger input like an autofire button…in the menus, it would just make it impossible to scroll right but in game it must have registered as a million attempted grenade throws). The only real issues with lag we noticed was when we tried playing the Halo 2 Anniversary maps.
Yeah, the party was fun once it got going but it does raise the question of whether it was worth it. For instance, if we had just used 360’s and swapped discs between games, the downtime would have been actually been shorter than the 45 minutes we spent wrestling with trying to LAN when it was impossible. We wouldn’t have been able to play on the Halo 1 PC maps or anything Halo 2 Anniversary-related but considering that we spent more time on classic material, those omissions might not have mattered.
Oh and because we had those Xbox Live codes to try gold accounts for free, we attempted to play online. We went into a big team battle match on Bloodline (the Halo 2 Anniversary Coagulation remake). I was foolishly under the impression a lot of the match-making issues had been fixed…so, naturally, we were put into a 7v5 CTF game on the team of 5 (which immediately became a team of 4 because some dude was smart enough to know what was up). If first impressions count, this was a really good way to show paying for Xbox Live is not a worthy investment (at least for Halo MCC).
It’s been half a year since Halo MCC launched and the only people worth recommending it to are people who have never played Halo before. There’s enough single player content to justify a $60 price tag or as part of an Xbone bundle. For the people looking at multiplayer to justify a purchase, look elsewhere. The matchmaking is still terrible and the lack of LAN support is just inexplicable.
I’d love to have another party like this but with all the issues surrounding the game, it would be so much easier to have a Halo: Reach night instead…