Review: Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary

November 15, 2011, By Christian Davis

Now, Halo: Combat Evolved was reviewed dozens of times a decade ago, so it’s pointless to really review the game. So, rather than give an official review we’ll be discussing what’s new with 343’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition and why you should still revisit this timeless game.

It’s hard to imagine that it’s been ten years since the release of the original Halo. That game basically made the Xbox the console to buy and also came to be one of the best games of all time. I played through the campaign by myself on each difficulty setting and then again with my brothers. It just never got old and it’s still a game that I like to revisit from time to time. There have been a lot of High definition re-releases as of late and of course when Halo: Combat Evolved was coming I had to get my hands on it. The nostalgic experience you have when playing the game skyrockets through the roof and it’s surprising how much you remember from the original title when it’s back in front of you. It was a blast to play and it easily took hours away from your day.

Ten years later, the game still holds up and is just as enjoyable.

So what’s new about the game? Obviously, the classic has received a substantial boost in the aesthetics department with the brand new 1080p high definition graphics. This improvement allows for some incredible detail that wasn’t able to be achieved at the time. Covenant ships have a lot more polish and just look more high tech. Forests are significantly more lush and lively with more foliage and the destruction around you is just much more appealing. There’s even an option to switch between the original graphics and the new high definition ones. It’s a great to see the improvements they’ve made with the title virtually in real time. It does take some time to change so doing this in the middle of a firefight isn’t recommended. It is odd how we can’t do the graphic change during a cutscene though which would probably be the best time to initiate the change.

Aside from the graphics the inclusion of Kinect functionality was also integrated into the game. This feature is a bit heedless though. I originally forgot it was even included until I was told again and it won’t be available until you get a  title update. The Kinect feature has a few different functions which are more convenient than you’d expect. For example, saying “turn off subtitles” will turn them off or saying “reload” will do just that. Reloading by pushing the button on the controller is quicker but having the ability to edit game options without opening up a menu screen is surprisingly nice.

All the information you need about Elites can be accessed just by using your voice.

The best and most useful feature of the Kinect is the ability to scan and analyze Halo characters and objects (shown above). You simply just say “scan” and it then takes record of it in the surprisingly addictive Library mode. If you’re a fan of Halo lore and want to know just about every detail about it, you’ll spend a lot of time in the Library. Want to know the origin of Elites or about their weapons? Scan it and then head to the Library for all the information you need. It’s a nice feature though we did want to see a bit more use out of the Kinect functionality.

When it comes to Halo, online play is definitely a must. For fans hoping for online multiplayer for the original game, that’s not the case. What 343 has done instead is revamp some of the classic maps and put them into Halo: Reach’s online experience. When accessing multiplayer from the disc in fact, you’ll be directed to Halo Reach’s multiplayer menu. Anniversary includes six multiplayer maps from the original Halo: Hang ’em High, Prisoner, Beaver Creek, Damnation, Headlong and Timberland (from the PC version of Halo). In addition to the maps, you’ll also have a new firefight mission based on the campaign level “Halo.”

Of course you remember one of the smaller Halo maps, Beaver Creek. It’s still a mad rush for the overshield in the river.

After a short period of time playing on these maps, you’ll remember the same routines and patterns that you use to do over ten years ago. Overshield spawns, enemy spawn points, old strategies, and weapon locations will all come back to you much quicker than you thought.

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary still holds up after all these years. If you’re  a long time Halo fan and have been wanting to revisit the original campaign, definitely pick this game up. If it’s your first time  and you want to know why the first title in the series got such critical acclaim, you should also pick it up. The experience you had in the past is still intact and seeing the epic moments you had back then polished up with new graphics is fantastic. Taking down a hunter with one pistol shot or encountering the flood for the first time is still just as satisfying today. If you’ve already played through the campaign nearly1,000 times and aren’t looking to play it again, you can also just pick up the new multiplayer maps from the Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Halo: Combat Evolved is an old timer, but has aged quite nicely.


The Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition Review was based off a review copy provided to us by Microsoft for the Xbox 360.


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