When it was originally released on the Xbox in 2001, Halo: Combat Evolved was considered an instant classic, shifting over five million copies Worldwide and more importantly changing the face of how we play FPS games on consoles to this very day.
One of the most important things about Halo was how it evolved the controls for FPS games on console. The way you could switch weapons, aim and reload was so innovative for its time that we still see the games influences in the FPS games we play even now. It wasn’t just the controls though, thanks to Halo’s previously unseen cinematic experience which brought with it a well told story, a strong lead character and immersive gameplay, which until that point had PC gamers laughing at the thought of any FPS being played on a console.
Halo brought big contributions to the world of console, so it only seems right that on its tenth anniversary, this classic gets a little present, an HD remake, giving those who didn’t try the game the first time around a chance to see what they were missing.
For those who have never played the original, this is obviously where you are introduced to cybernetic super-solider Master Chief, along with his neural interface, Cortina, who helps him identify both his enemies and his current objective. At the beginning of the game you find yourself crashing onto a space station known as Halo following an attack by the Covenant on your spaceship. Once on the planet the main aim is to help your fellow allies by rescuing them from the Covenant, although soon you discover that all is not as it seems.
Of course given that this is the Anniversary Edition we are talking about, the game has been given a HD Gloss, bringing Master Chief, Halo and the Covenant into 2011, the differences are quite unbelievable, which you can witness for yourself thanks to the game including 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.
This is not the only change to the game, for instance, when you wander through the levels you will more than likely come across hidden terminals. These terminals are great for fans of the series as they 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 terminals take the guise of motion comic cut scenes, which must be listened to closely if you want to discover the secrets of the Halo Universe.
Although we were unable to test this as it will not arrive until launch, Halo Anniversary is also the first in the series to use Kinect support. This will apparently allow you to throw grenades, switch between classic and modern graphics, activate an Analyse Mode and more. It certainly sounds like good fun and we can’t wait to see just how well it works.
In terms of remaking a game from 2001 and bringing it into 2011, 343 Industries has done a fantastic job, however there are obviously some things which it couldn’t change. Through no fault of its own, Halo feels dated. Compared to today’s standards the story telling feels weak, scenes are often overused and combat feels very repetitive. On the plus side the AI feels as great as ever, reacting to situations in a different way each time and at the same time putting some of today’s bigger budget titles to shame. The included vehicles also bring another impressive aspect to the game, at least allowing you to mix things up a little.
Away from the single player, 343 has decided to including both a new Fire Fight mode and the classic multiplayer Halo maps which have been reworked with the Halo Reach engine. Not only does the latter let you experience what it’s like to play these classic maps using the more advanced engine, but it also lets you play them using the Reach disc, meaning that you can head online and instantly have access to the Reach huge community. Given that Microsoft will also be releasing the maps for those who own Reach but have decided against purchasing the Anniversary Edition; this means that there will certainly not be a lack of players when you head online using these maps.
As for Fire Fight, this sees one to four players go up against multiple waves of Covenant invaders on a vehicle based map which is set at the scene of the cliff-side beam emitter encounter which took place around the second level. In this mode you can use the game-modifying skulls as well as being able to define practically every aspect of Enemy AI behaviour such as their number and the composition of both standard and boss waves. You can also decide on your Spartans equipment and armour, before setting about the hordes of enemies with your co-op partners and the friendly ODSTs and Marines who are there to help you.
The multiplayer is certainly a welcome addition and as expected is of a very high standard. Using the Reach engine was an obvious choice for multiplayer and I’m certain that it’s all the better for it.
Overall, you really have to take the game for what it is and although Halo fans will be beaming with joy at the HD graphics, for me they do not justify paying out near full price for, even with the included multiplayer maps and the impressive Fire Fight mode. The thing is, we are in 2011 and there are many other games out there which do FPS better. If you fancy a nostalgic trip to the past or are indeed a massive Halo fan then by all means this game is for you, however if you are looking for a high quality FPS then this latter part of the year will probably see you looking elsewhere.
Rating: GoodReview Policy
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