|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: 343 Industries|
|Release: November 15, 2011|
|Players: 1-2 Local, 2-16 Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
When Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary was first announced, many of us assumed it was going to be the same as every other HD remake out there. In short, we expected it to look a little better than the original, but not much. The textures would be upgrades, the models would be smoothed, and, in the end, the primary motivation for purchasing the remake would be having this classic available on a current system rather than actually playing the original Halo in HD.
Well, we were wrong. Halo 10th Anniversary Edition is one of the most thorough remakes we've ever seen. In some ways, it feels like playing a whole new game. Actually, that's not completely accurate. It actually looks like a whole new game. In terms of gameplay, the remake is exactly the same as the original. You'll wander through the same level layouts, fight the same enemies, and pick up the same guns. Everything down to enemy and item placement is exactly the same as it was in the original Xbox version.
But don't take my word for it. The development team put the entire original game into the remake, so you can play it for yourself to see for yourself. And I don't mean that the original is some sort of extra game mode or anything; I mean it's literally built right into the core gameplay. You can press the back button on your Xbox controller to change the graphics from the new remade version to the classic Xbox version any time you wish. You can toggle the graphics while walking down the hallway, or even in the middle of a firefight. In the official panel demonstration, we were told that you can throw a grenade in 2011 and have it land back in 2001.
As minor as this functionality is, it does a lot to let players appreciate how far graphics technology has come. As I said before, this is way more than a simple re-texturing of the original game. Everything has been graphically overhauled, from lighting to basic models. The sparse metal walls of the original Xbox version are replaced with reflective steel textures, yellow borders, and high-tech flashing computer gadgetry. Simple grey corridors that looked only a step beyond the technology of Quake and Doom now look as if they were designed for a game of the current generation. In fact, I'd say that the new graphics job actually lets you appreciate Halo far more now than you were able to then. Halo, in the original Xbox days, was just an excuse to shoot my friends in the face, but seeing this new graphical overhaul, I've come to realize that Halo actually has a story worth paying attention to.
Now, I've spent a lot of time talking about the improved graphics, but this isn't the only area that's seen an overhaul. The sound has been completely re-recorded. While the original score from the game is present and accounted for, a brand new remade and remixed score is also available to listen to, and, once again, it holds up to current-gen audio. Sound effects have also been totally redone, with explosions resounding with that visceral bass that you are used to from modern day sci-fi games such as Gears of War and Resistance. You can alter your sound preferences in the menu and you can use either sound set with either graphics set, which is a nice touch. Who knows? Some of us out there might want to play with updated sound and classic graphics or vice versa. Unfortunately, they haven't updated any of the voice acting, but I don't think anyone really wanted to change the grunt's death squeals anyway.
The 10th Anniversary edition of Halo will come with a full suite of achievements for people who really want to increase their Gamerscore, new skulls that either increase or decrease the challenge (by say, giving you unlimited ammo or making each shot take two bullets), and even new terminals that have recorded logs that expand on Halo's story in new ways. In fact, some of these terminals will even give some hints on the story for Halo 4, so that might be more than enough reason to buy the game if you like to speculate about future plot threads.
Of course, then there's multiplayer. The multiplayer includes maps from Halo 1, Halo 2, and even brand new maps designed just for this edition. The graphics, of course, have been updated, but otherwise the multiplayer is the exact same multiplayer you remember, right down to the weapon spawn locations.
The Halo 10th Anniversary Edition will come out November 15th, ten years to the day of the original release of Halo. If you are a die-hard Halo fan, even if you have already played the game before, this is probably one remake worth getting.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer