Before I can talk about Halo, I have to talk about Call Of Duty. Without Halo, Call Of Duty wouldn’t be what it has become, it wouldn’t be the record shattering entertainment giant it is. Why’s that? You jabbering idiot you may ask. Halo proved something that no other First-Person shooter or Console developer had ever proved before – That a first-person shooter with detail and Panache can be release on a Console and be intricate yet accessible to all. It’s reasonable to speculate that without Combat Evolved First-Person Shooters would not have smashed their way onto consoles, or that Microsoft’s new black box would have made the impression it did.
Now onto the game!
Halo:CE Anniversary Edition is not a re-imagining of a classic, nor is it a simple HD re-release (I’m looking at you Capcom). It stifles somewhere between. The game runs on the same engine but has completely updated graphics, no stone left unturned, everything has been remodelled. It shows. The old graphics have been left in also and with a quick press of the Back button you can switch -almost- seamlessly between the original and the new updated design. I’m not sure whether it was the imagination of a 15 year old or the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, but graphically the game has aged, aged badly. To me the new visuals were how the game looked to me 10 years ago on release, but hitting that Back button is a slap back to reality for me. Graphically games have come far. However the new graphics engine provides beautiful vista’s. Gazing upwards through the clouds you still see the Halo arch up and away from you. Rain poors down as you battle the flood in the Forrests and sparks fly high as needles bounce from Hunter’s shields. Whilst I would not say the graphics are at the same level of fidelity as Reach, 343 have done a great job with what they had to work with. However, where graphics have aged gameplay has not.
I believe it’s a great credit and complement to Bungie to say that the core gameplay, level design and gunplay have not been touched, even 10 years later the core of Halo stays unscathed by time. The pistol still downs grunts with precision headshots from afar as you charge in, the Assault Rifle hoses bullets and grenades bounce warthogs as high as they ever did. This is the game I remember from back then. I must admit you will see the odd design choice which will show age, the campaign still has it’s fair share of confusing corridors, back tracking and limited map sizes, but the spark that made it all fit together is still there. Gunning down Covenant and Flood alike is as fun and engaging as it ever was. 343 have made changes however, there is the odd tweak here and there (the library has arrows on where to go so you no longer get lost) but that is all. One thing 343 Industries have added to the mix are “Terminals” on each level, these Terminals unlock cinematics that somehow relate to the upcoming Halo 4, slowing plucking away at the history of the Halos and the forerunners – You’ll have to find them and see.
The games score has been re-recorded but luckily you have the chance to switch back to the original Marty O’Donnell recorded works. You can tell however that the voice work has been left untouched and whilst it brings back memories the low quality doesn’t do your surround sound and favours! (Or your ears)
The game ships with a redeemable code for the new anniversary map pack for Reach which includes 6 maps from a picking of maps from Halo and Halo 2, also included is a single firefight map – resembling the installation from The Silent Cartographer beach assault. The maps can be tweaked to bring the game more in line with what you experienced a decade ago, turning off jet packs and other Reach inducing stuff. For those who remember playing online before LIVE was around, using the LAN trick then these bring back some memories (now with added trash-talk).
Whilst some refer to this release as a book with a new cover, I prefer to see this as the chance to revisit a classic and relive what is essentially a great,fun game. However if you were too young or simply did not play the original, then what are you doing reading this? You should be heading out to pick this up.
Pepperoni Pizza tasted great 10 years ago – It still does today.