Halo Anniversary Single-Player Campaign Preview

Co-Op Over Xbox Live

With Halo Anniversary, 343 have added full campaign co-op over Xbox Live. Yay, technology! You and a friend can play through the game together and argue about who should drive the Warthog from a safe distance. My colleague Ben Richardson and I co-op’d the single-player campaign for a few hours last week, and it was a blast. Again, it’s pretty much exactly what you think it is (Halo 1 in HD with a friend). There’s really not much more to say about it, but honestly this is potentially the biggest value-adding thing about Halo Anniversary that improves on the original.

If you’re any sort of Halo fan, I really do recommend you play through Halo: Anniversary with a friend. The nostalgia trip alone is worth it. It’s crazy how much things have changed in 10 years. Like, your health bar in Halo 1 is a small, desperate fig leaf in comparison to Halo: Reach‘s large, forgiving health system. Halo Anniversary is as good a reason as any to revisit the classic with a pal in remembrance of the good old days, and Xbox Live makes it extremely easy.

Terminals & Skulls
The original Halo was certainly packed with secrets and easter eggs galore, but it wasn’t until later Halo games when Bungie fleshed out the single-player experience with tons of replayability goodies. The most iconic of these is undoubtedly the hidden collectible “Skulls” which debuted in Halo 2, and have made repeated cameos in Halo games ever since.

343 Industries are adding in a series of collectible Skulls to Halo: Anniversary, each with unique gameplay-altering properties. For instance, the “Recession” skull causes guns to expend twice their normal ammo. The skull “Malfunction” deactivates a random element of the player’s HUD (like how much ammo you have) upon respawn. And according to designer Chad Armstrong, they’re going to be really, really hard to find. They’re “even more difficult to find [than Halo 3],” he informed me. He continued and explained just how torturously difficult he wants finding the skulls to be:

I didn’t want to go with [the Halo 3 route]. Instead, we made them so some of them are just so damned hard to reach, that even if you know where they are it’s going to take you a few tries to get to them. They’re hidden in very obscure places. Well, varying levels of obscurity, depending on the power of the skull itself. Some of the skulls in Anniversary are a bit beneficial to the player. We put some of the skulls in a place where, sure, someone is going to find it and post a video of it, but having the video in front of you doesn’t mean it’s as easy as just going and grabbing it. It might take you 10 or 20 tries to actually reach where the skull is.

In addition to the significant level of challenge the Skulls add, the hidden “Terminals” from Halo 3 are coming to Halo Anniversary. There are 10 Terminals in total, one for each level of the game, and each terminal unlocks a video that provides new fiction and backstory to the Halo universe. Armstrong gave me the lowdown on how Terminals were integrated into the game:

In ODST it was sort of random pieces of electronics that The Super Indendant could hack into. Since Halo 1 has these multiple environments depending on what level you’re in, we gave each of the terminals an appropriate context. So, for instance a computer terminal on the bridge of the Pillar of Autumn…The actual videos themselves tend to have context related to them. For example, on the Pillar of Autumn on the first level, you’re receiving a message from Guilty Spark. On “Truth and Reconcilliation,” you’ve also got a very different message.

Armstrong also hinted at the existence of brand new easter eggs in Halo Anniversary, but would say no more. “If I told you about them they wouldn’t be easter eggs,” he said. Psh! Ok, I agree.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to like about Halo Anniversary’s single-player offerings. The enhanced graphics, beefed up collectibles and (most notably in my opinion) addition of co-op over Xbox Live make this a pretty easy $40 buy for Halo fans looking to replay the original classic. And I haven’t even said anything about multiplayer yet, which my bro Ben Richardson is covering in a separate article.

Despite a couple visual quirks, 343′s approach to remaking Halo: Combat Evolved is impressive, and definitely worth a look.

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1 Comment on Halo Anniversary Single-Player Campaign Preview

Brandon White

On October 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm

This is a definite buy, I’ve been a fan of Bungie since the beginning.