Halo Combat Evolved is kind of a big deal for some, certainly for those who never played the original, but also for those who did. Developer 343 Industries had a big task in its hands when it was asked to pull off a miracle by bringing back and enhancing the title which some regard as the game which made Xbox what it is today. So have 343 pulled a rabbit out of the hat? The answer of course, is yes.
On first glance what 343 Industries have done with the original game is pretty impressive. Our particular demo started in Beaver Canyon and straight away you could tell that a lot of love had gone into making this game look great. The thing is, it’s always hard to remember what it looked like before anyway, especially I’d imagine, if you have never played the original…well… cue one of the most fantastic features I have even seen in any game… the ability to switch between the old original and the newly reworked HD edition. This is a pretty impressive feature because at any point in the game you can switch between old Halo and new, and what a difference it makes. You really don’t appreciate all the hard work that has gone into this remake at first glance, however being able to switch between old scenes and new at the flick of a button really gives you an appreciation for the work done by 343 Industries.
We were shown the perfect example of the switch between old and new when Master Chief was shown wandering through a murky forest. In all honesty there wasn’t too much to see in the old style Halo, however a flip of the switch showed a completely new scene. All of a sudden there was less fog and more lighting, giving an idea of the scale of the environment you found yourself in, it was a pretty breathtaking moment in all honesty. The beauty of this feature is that you can play through the whole game anyway you like, be it with the old graphics or new; it’s a very impressive feature and one which you should be very pleased is included.
In addition to the graphical switch, 343 also revealed that it has included terminals throughout the campaign which, if found, will provide you with an insight into the games background, as well as a few hints about what could be coming up in Halo 4. These terminal take the guise of motion comic cutscenes, which, from the one example we saw, look very impressive indeed.
As well as highlighting the differences between old and new, I have to mention that the new graphics are very impressive indeed, the lighting and greenery look fantastic and even more so when you switch into the games secret feature, Stereoscopic 3D. Yes despite Microsoft’s reservations on the technology 3D support has been included and for those lucky enough to own a 3D TV it’s a great addition. Add to this the re-recorded music and sound and you really do have a title that is as true to the original as possible.
During our brief preview, the developers from 343 Industries stated time and again that they wanted to make sure this title was as well represented as possible, therefore upon loading this disc you will find achievements, co-op over Xbox LIVE and of course mutliplayer.
Speaking of multiplayer, 343 Industries told us that the game will ship with updated versions of the original maps, running on the Halo: Reach engine. This is interesting because it means that owners of Halo Reach will be able to download these maps and play against the owners of Halo Combat Evolved. What this means for Reach players is that they will be able to revisit the original maps with their new gadgets, while Evolved players will be able to do likewise.
Halo Combat Evolved is a classic game which many will worry has been spoiled by its new found appearance after all these years, thankfully though 343 Industries seem to have taken a lot of care in unwrapping it; judging by its new paint job it could be worth more to gamers than ever before.