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What to play this week — Halo, Mass Effect and Neo: The World Ends with You

halo
(Image credit: Microsoft)

This week, the Tom’s Guide crew is all about remastered sci-fi shooters — and an incredibly weird RPG. As we’ve seen in past weeks, there’s a healthy mix of older fare and hot new titles, as our writers tackle Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Mass Effect: Legendary Edition and Neo: The World Ends with You. Sometimes, you can’t beat the feeling of revisiting an old favorite; other times, you get a completely unexpected sequel to an old favorite.

Summer is traditionally a slower time for new game releases than spring or fall, which makes it the perfect opportunity to catch up on games that have been hanging out in your backlog all year. Over the course of the next few weeks, we expect to see some “I can’t believe it took me so long to play this" entries, alongside some “you shouldn’t miss this new mid-budget/indie game” recommendations. Here’s what the Tom’s Guide crew will be playing this weekend.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection 

halo reach

(Image credit: Microsoft)

I love Halo. I grew up with the franchise, pouring hundreds of hours into all six of the games. I powered through all of the Legendary campaigns alone, and I daresay I was quite good at Halo: Reach multiplayer back in the day. But when I decided that the Xbox One wasn’t the console for me, I sort of left Halo behind. I stopped reading the tie-in books, and I never got around to Halo 5 — something I intend to rectify on Xbox Cloud Gaming before Halo Infinite comes out.

So imagine my shock when 343 Industries announced that The Master Chief Collection (MCC) was coming to PC in all its glory, complete with PC-specific enhancements and controls. 343 had spent many years cleaning up after the messy MCC launch on Xbox One back in 2014. The company decided to release Halo games on PC one at a time, starting with Reach, to ensure stability. While I was impatient to get my hands on Halo 2 Anniversary for the first time, and to revisit Halo 3, I respected this approach.

I recently made an Excel spreadsheet of all of my games in an effort to contain my backlog. I saw MCC was marked as "in-progress," and knew I had to get back into it. I find the multiplayer quite fun and I’m working on a Legendary run across all of the games. Halo is far from perfect, but the nostalgia is enough to keep me coming back. And, for me, there’s nothing quite like a good, chaotic 8v8 Slayer match at the end of a long day. - Jordan Palmer

Mass Effect: Legendary Edition 

mass effect legendary edition

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

I’ve been slowly making my way through the Mass Effect Legendary Edition since it launched back in May. This week I finally began the last game in the trilogy: Mass Effect 3. 

While I have played the game before, it was almost a decade ago, so much of Mass Effect 3 feels almost entirely new to me. I’m currently about 12 hours in, and what stands out the most is how much fan service is in the game. An abundance of winking references can be a cheap gimmick, but Mass Effect 3 handles this aspect remarkably well.

Almost every mission you embark on features a callback to the previous two Mass Effect games. Maybe you unexpectedly reunite with an old squadmate, or perhaps an NPC you saved in the first game returns to thank you.

Mass Effect has always earned high praise for its characters, story and world. Mass Effect 3 shines in these departments. Each new planet you explore feels different — even the planets that return from previous games. The central narrative, which focuses on the galaxy uniting to fight back against the deadly Reapers, is also extremely compelling.

It’s a shame that the series hasn’t aged as gracefully in the gameplay department. The third-person shooting is extremely pedestrian. The game is also far too easy on the standard difficulty. Bumping the challenge up a notch is practically a necessity if you don’t want your fight for the galaxy’s survival to feel like a stroll in the park. 

I can’t say I’ve noticed huge graphical improvements in the Legendary Edition, either. Mass Effect 3 feels like a game from 2012, even on the PS5. Nevertheless, I’m slowly inching through the game. This isn't because it’s tedious, but rather, because I’ve enjoyed replaying the Mass Effect saga so much that I don’t want my playthrough to end. - Rory Mellon

Neo: The World Ends with You 

the world ends with you

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Back in 2008, Square Enix released a bizarre little RPG on the Nintendo DS entitled The World Ends with You. This wasn’t a high-fantasy adventure about a group of starry-eyed youngsters out to save the world. Instead, TWEWY was a weird meditation on teenage life, death and the lies we tell ourselves in order to fit in. It took place in modern-day Tokyo and featured a killer hip-hop/J-pop soundtrack. Naturally, it gained an ardent cult following — and flopped financially.

Still, some of us never lost hope for a sequel, and last week, Square Enix finally rewarded our patience. Neo: The World Ends with You is pretty much everything a TWEWY sequel should be. It’s still delightfully offbeat and unbelievably stylish, buoyed by a laugh-out-loud funny script and a large cast of memorable characters. Interestingly, it’s also managed to capture a lot of the original game’s frustrations, too, including an unwieldy battle system and a sense that the game holds your hand too much during its best puzzles.

Neo: The World Ends with You definitely isn’t for everyone. You have to have played the first game to get the most out of its tangled story, and neither the gorgeous art style nor the killer soundtrack can quite cover for the fact that you’re exploring a rather small world with some convoluted gameplay options. But if you devoured the first game back in 2008 and dreamed of spending some more time on the mean streets of Shibuya, you won’t walk away disappointed. – Marshall Honorof