Nice to see this collection on PC will finally be complete next week.
I’ve slowly been making my way through the campaigns on the heroic difficulty setting and after years of not really understanding what the fuss was about have come to appreciate the series. The firefights manage to stay dynamic thanks to how your selected weapon combination truly changes up your opponents tactics. The music is simply wonderful and the skyboxes are to die for. I despite the storytelling, but the little interactions with the NPCs who are chuffed to play alongside you is very charming.
I haven’t finished ODST yet, but I would rank the other campaigns as follows:
Halo 3 - Easily the best. Lots of open spaces and variety in the level design, the best set of tools and set pieces. The moment where you face off against two Scarabs is an all-time great encounter for me. I love how Bungie keeps introducing novel surprises.
Halo 1 - Extremely uneven level design holds this one back from greatness (so many copy and pasted layouts), but the combat and sense of place is sublime. The open-ended levels where you can mess around with vehicles are the best. People weren’t kidding about the Library though. That was an utter garbage pace-killer.
Halo Reach - It’s hard not to roll your eyes at hoorah heroics of the by-the-numbers squad (maybe I would like this if I was American), but the fatalistic tone gives it a unique sense of identity.
Halo 2 - After reading Vice’s excellent history of Halo article, the fact that Bungie ran out of time and had to scale back there ambitions is evident across the board, though especially in the dull graphics (regardless of whether you choose enhanced settings or not) and the cliffhanger ending. Arbiter was just whatever, and playing as him wasn’t meaningfully unique. Dual-wield is an okay addition, but the boxy levels and the jumpy difficultly curve weren’t particularly enjoyable. It matched my memories of being unimpressed when I checked the game out after playing HL2.