Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary [Review]

  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Published by: Microsoft
  • Developed by: 343 Industries, Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • ESRB Rating: M for Mature
  • Number of Players: 1-2, co-op 2, online multiplayer 2-16
  • Release Date: World Wide: November 15, 2011

The date was November 15th, 2001. It’s a date that lives in infamy, it was the day the original Halo Combat Evolved game released for the Xbox. It seems just like yesterday for me. It’s hard to pinpoint why Halo has been such a great success, but I think it comes from the fact that Halo Combat Evolved was the start of the serious first person shooter for home consoles. In the past you could only play those types of games on a PC, Halo Combat Evolved was a first for console gamer’s. It was also one of the first times console gamer’s could play a large first person shooter with sandbox elements. Ten years have passed and how does Halo Combat Evolved stand up? Read on to find out.

I would like to start off by saying that Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary has some of the, if not the best cover art I’ve ever seen on an Xbox 360 game. Simply stunning and it took me back to that excitement all those years ago.

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I don’t usually like to toot my own horn, but if you remember back to before this past E3 I successfully predicted that we’d see some details come out about this Combat Evolved Anniversary game at E3, I also said Microsoft would reveal Halo 4 as well, which they did. The interesting thing is that 343 Industries set out to make the Anniversary game in a different way than most HD remakes are made. Most of the remakes you see today are fairly simple to do, it’s a cheap and inexpensive way to make a profit off older games, companies up-convert the games and smooth out edges, you wont see the level of work put into them like we have seen with Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary. One of the most interesting things is that the game itself runs directly over the old game, so everything plays exactly how you remember, but with a beautiful new coat of paint.

The graphics look fantastic, you put the game in and right away you realize you are playing a Halo game, some people might even have to do a double take to be sure of which Halo game they are even playing. If you click on the back button on your controller, it takes you back to the original style graphics and you quickly realize how far we’ve come in the last ten years. Specifically when it comes to things like textures and mapping. Another thing that most people don’t realize is that the original Halo dates back to the Mac, which it was supposed to come out for back in 1999. So the game itself is even older than ten years, it dates back to when the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64 were still on the market. Most HD remakes we see released now days are games that aren’t even that old, maybe five or six years old, but none go back as far as the original Halo Combat Evolved. So it was quite an undertaking to bring this game up to par with games that come out today.

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The game certainly plays exactly how it played back in 2001, it is such a nostalgic thing to go through all of those levels that I hadn’t played through since then. It helps me to remember why I got into first person shooters in the first place and the whole time that I played the game the smile never left my face. The biggest difference in the campaign for me was the ability to play the game cooperatively with a friend over Xbox Live, so my brother and I loaded it up and gave it a go on Legendary mode. I will say that although there aren’t as many enemies on the screen as newer games, on Legendary game mode it was extremely difficult, the Elites seemed to have auto-aim and took a lot to kill. I would say games have definitely gotten easier as a whole, even Halo games. I beat Halo 3, ODST and Halo Reach all on Legendary and with relative ease. So I wouldn’t suggest this mode for newcomers looking to see how the franchise started off.

The campaign is fairly long and a lot of fun, it took me around twelve hours to complete it in full. The Achievements are also a nice touch to anyone looking to get some fun, yet entertaining Gamer-Score. I talked a little bit about the impressive graphical leap into full HD, but I haven’t mentioned how the game has been formatted for 3-D as well. If your into 3-D gaming then Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary is definitely a “must have” title. You are immersed into the story like never before and the campaign itself holds up to any new games campaign, both in length and story. Halo games are well-known for their brilliant stories and this is one of the best.

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Unlike most HD remake games, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary has full online modes, you get a code to download six multiplayer maps to your hard drive. You get six classic maps and a new Firefight map as well.

  • Beaver Creek / Battle Canyon
  • Hang ‘Em High / High Noon
  • Damnation / Penance
  • Timberland / Ridgeline
  • Prisoner / Solitary
  • Headlong / Breakneck

The online portion of Halo Combat Evolved utilizes the Halo Reach Engine, but plays completely different. There are no abilities like Armor-Lock, so you get that classic Halo feel from every game you play. In particular Hang ‘Em High seems to be a crowd favorite. The online is fast and furious and as fun as Halo 2 was back when it came out. If your new to Halo then you might not realize the original Halo wasn’t online enabled, Xbox Live didn’t come out until the year after Combat Evolved was released, so this is the first chance to actually enjoy the original Halo online on a console and it’s done very, very well.

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I’m the type of person who likes value for my money, for the $39.99 you pay for Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary you get a ton of content, much more content then when the game originally released ten years ago. You get the epic campaign that started it all, now in full HD and 3-D. You can play cooperatively over Xbox Live and you get six classic maps and game modes to enjoy. They even through in a skull download code, and Xbox Live Avatar Master Chief Armor. It’s well worth the money to invest into a piece of gaming’s history. The game both showcases how far we’ve come and how far we can go in the generations to come. From top to bottom this is the best HD remake I’ve ever played and one of the few that I whole heartily recommend to everyone.

FINAL SCORE: 9.5/10

 

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