|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: 343 Industries|
|Release: November 15, 2011|
|Players: 1-2 Local, 2-16 Online|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Violence|
But no amount of visual fidelity can hide the fact that the gameplay feels a little outdated. Not as much as other shooters from this era, mind you, but dated nonetheless. This is the most apparent in the middle portion of the game, in which you'll traverse cut-and-paste versions of the same exact rooms over and over. And toward the end, it's hard to ignore the fact that most of the second half of the campaign is spent backtracking through the first half.
The controls are unmistakably Halo. The franchise has once again omitted the option to let players use ironsights. But this is something Halo fans have come to expect. Even Reach, which released just last year, didn't have this feature, and, truth be told, it would feel out of place in a Halo game. If you're used to the more modern control schemes of shooters like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, you might have to spend some time getting used to the Halo setup. Yet once you do, it all begins to feel natural, though admittedly not as refined as Reach. But if you've played CE before, you'll find those nostalgia centers of your brain kicking in and taking over. I have to admit, though, that driving Warthogs is as awkward as it was back in 2001, and this makes the ending sequence a bit more frustrating than it would be otherwise.
Of course, for many, it's the multiplayer experience that draws them to Halo. After all, this was the shooter you'd find in just about every dorm room in the United States circa 2001. CE Anniversary has a scaled-down multiplayer package, with six classic maps selected from Halo: CE and Halo 2, as well as a brand new Firefight map called Installation 04. These maps have been rebuilt in the Reach engine, making them compatible with Halo: Reach. In fact, if you want to skip the CE campaign altogether, you can just download the multiplayer portion as a map pack for Reach. If you do buy CE Anniversary, though, you'll get a code to download the maps so you can access them from either CE Anniversary or Reach.
And the Reach engine means that besides Reach's graphics, you'll have the Reach HUD, the Reach version of the assault rifle (32 rounds per clip rather than CE's 64), and, most importantly, Reach's smoother controls. Even the Warthogs feel less awkward in multiplayer than they do in the campaign.
All in all, this is a welcome return to an adventure that changed the face of gaming a decade ago. The upgraded look does a lot to bring back that sense of awe that we felt the first time we played the game. The multiplayer experience is small, but the compatibility with Reach means there will be a larger pool of people playing these maps. If you've never played the game that launched the Halo franchise, or if you've been longing for a return to this adventure, pick this up. If you're only interested in multiplayer, the map pack is a solid purchase as well.
CCC Editor / Contributing Writer