Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Available exclusively on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1-16
Genre: FPS
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: 343 Industries / Saber Interactive
Release Date: November 15, 2011
Xbox Live: Online multiplayer

Parent Talk: Do you remember Halo: Combat Evolved?  If so, you know there’s a lot of blue and green blood, and tons of aliens to destroy by any means necessary.  The ESRB rates Halo Anniversary M for mature as such.

Plays Like: The original Halo and most other FPS games available.

Review Basis: Finished the campaign with a buddy, and tried what amounts to the new Halo: Reach map pack.

Halo Anniversary is wonderful fan service for everyone that enjoyed the original 2001 Xbox masterpiece. My goodness, has it been ten years already?!  Newcomers and old-timers alike can enjoy Anniversary, but a few refinements would have helped in completing the reimagination of the original classic.

The Great:

Finally, online co-op arrives in the campaign that started it all. After ten years, it’s wonderful to grab a friend, head online and play Halo. That’s where this HD remake shines the brightest because it’s a feature players asked for since Live originally launched.

The Good:

+ Original mystery still holds up.  The story is minimal, which is what makes it so great.  You don’t really know what’s happening, and when you do it’s too late…events are already set in motion that will change the future forever.  I loved reliving this excellent tale.

+ Nice extras.  Hidden skulls are added to each campaign mission, new terminal videos reveal more detail about the plot, and other tidbits here and there make Halo Anniversary a slightly more enhanced HD remake than you’re probably accustomed to.

+ Love and care.  Unlike most remakes that just upscale the resolution to 1080p, 343 Industries stepped up and used the Saber engine to bring Combat Evolved to life like never before.  While not as detailed and rich as modern shooters, the attention marks this as one of the best HD remakes we’ve seen thus far. 343 should be commended.

+ Switching between the original visuals, and the enhanced version. It shows you how much nicer the graphics truly are. There’s a slight delay while switching, so we don’t recommend doing so during a heavy gunfight.

+ The map pack is excellent for the online community. 343 essentially wrapped Halo maps around the Reach engine, thus this isn’t really Combat Evolved. The original multiplayer is nowhere to be found.  Some of our Halo and H2 favorites are featured, but it’s Reach’s gameplay. Furthermore, achievement progression for this pack goes towards Reach, and not Anniversary. Achievements for the remake deal only with the campaign.

The So-So:

+/- The campaign.  Huh?  Most of the campaign is a delight, but Halo hasn’t aged as well as some would like to think.  While still fun, it’s also repetitious.  The environments blend, especially towards the end.  Anyone remember the Library?  It’s even more annoying than it was ten years ago.

+/- Kinect support works well while watching the terminal videos, but fails to impress during gameplay.  You can shout commands such as “grenade” to lob a ‘nade at an enemy, but it’s a problem when there’s a delay between speaking and Master Chief actually throwing. It’s much easier to just press a button.

+/- Some say don’t mess with a classic, but the franchise’s overall improvements show how dated Halo can be.  There’s no dual-wielding or plasma swords, and really some of the additions should have been included in a “Remix” mode or something similar.  As it is, I feel Anniversary didn’t go the distance. Some will argue that you’re paying for an HD remake. In that regard, the game delivers.

The Bad:

– All the original issues are still there: repetitive level design; loose Warthog controls and questionable AI.  You expect this in a remake, but just be warned.

The Ugly:

Conquering the Library after all these years.  It’s ugly alright…

The Lowdown:

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is intended for those looking to experience Halo with a fresh coat of paint. There’s not much to dislike about a $20 cheaper-than-retail price and the inclusion of a fairly deep Reach map pack. I would have appreciated a few more refinements to the gameplay given all the improvements made to the visuals.  The best new feature is the online co-op.  This is an easy recommend for those wanting to re-experience a modern shooter classic.

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you can’t get enough Halo, there’s enough here to keep you occupied for the next month or so.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you’ve played Combat Evolved a thousand times and want more modern refinements.

2 thoughts on “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review”

  1. Microsoft sent us an early copy, which is what allowed me to get the review out before its release. A really great remake, that all Halo fans will enjoy.

  2. I played so much of the original Halo back in the day, but I don’t know if I’m that willing to go and buy a remake. It’s just something that I preferred for the multiplayer (local and LAN). Might get it eventually though.

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