Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Box Art
System: Xbox 360
Dev: 343 Industries
Pub: Microsoft
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But no amount of visual fidelity can hide the fact that the gameplay feels a little outdated.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.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot

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.

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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.

By Josh Wirtanen
CCC Editor / Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.7
Graphics
Combat Evolved has never looked better. The refined visuals bring back the "wow factor" of being on this strange alien world.
4.2
Control
The controls are decidedly Halo: not as modernized as other shooters or even as smooth as Reach's, but still intuitive. Some vehicles, however, feel awkward.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Halo's score has always been great, and it sounds better than ever now that it's been remastered. The voice acting, however, comes from a bygone era, and isn't always as good as we'd hope.
3.8
Play Value
The campaign feels more repetitive than you probably remember. Online offerings are a plus, but there are only seven maps in the entire multiplayer experience.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Stunningly remastered campaign. Relive the award-winning adventure that defined "Halo: Combat Evolved" as one of the best games of the decade with breathtaking next-gen graphics and audio remastered for the Xbox 360. Engage in epic-scale battles against the backdrop of the eponymous "Halo" ringworld, and relive nostalgic memories with the ability to toggle Classic mode to play the original version.
  • Online campaign co-op. For the first time, experience the story that started it all with a friend on Xbox LIVE and launch a cooperative assault against the Covenant, whether you live across the street or halfway around the world.
  • Classic Halo multiplayer maps reimagined. Wage battle on six detailed remakes of some of the most beloved "Halo" multiplayer maps of all time, and bring the fight to the Covenant on a stunning and resonant new Firefight map. Remastered in the Halo: Reach engine and inspired by maps from Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, these iconic battlefields reignite the heart-pounding multiplayer action of the original favorites and let you relive epic confrontations like you've never experienced them.
  • Immersive stereoscopic 3D. For the first time, fans will be able to experience the original "Halo" campaign in a whole new dimension as they step onto the legendary ring world in stereoscopic 3D. Using a custom made top-and-bottom 3D technology, 3D-TV owning fans will be able to experience the amazingly ramastered "Halo: Anniversary" in a more immersive way than ever before.
  • Innovative Kinect integration. With the power of Kinect, players can reload weapons or throw grenades using only their voice, and gather canonical information about the universe through the new "Analyze Mode" as they explore "Halo" and relive the iconic adventure. "Analyze Mode" allows players to "scan" items of interest in the campaign to populate the Library, an interactive encyclopedia of "Halo" lore.

  • Videos / Game Trailers
    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - 343 Guilty Spark Preview - click to enlarge
    343 Guilty Spark Preview
    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - Beaver Creek Preview - click to enlarge
    Beaver Creek Preview
    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - Terminals Sneak Peek  - click to enlarge
    Terminals Sneak Peek
    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - SDCC 2011 - Campain Demo: The Silent Cartographer - click to enlarge
    SDCC 2011 - Campain Demo
    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - E3 2011: Debut Trailer - click to enlarge
    E3 2011: Debut Trailer

    Screenshots / Images
    Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Screenshot - click to enlarge

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