Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review
How much does playing an old, familiar game feel like watching a movie you’ve already watched 100 times? You find yourself chiming in with the dialogue, and anticipating enemies and scripted events before they happen. You’ll be surprised at how the broad narrative arc and the scene-by-scene progression have been ingrained in your memory. The shocking, first-time impacts of plot twists and rocket-launcher-wielding Flood are long gone, replaced by satisfying awareness. You know that Darth Vader is Anakin Skywalker, and you know that 343 Guilty Spark wants to destroy all sentient life within 25,000 light years, but it’s still amusing to watch Luke and Master Chief find out.
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: 343 Industries
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Released: November 14, 2011
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (HCEA from now on, for brevity) is the first title from Kirkland, Washington developers 343 Industries. Named after Halo’s antagonistic, evil robot — mentioned briefly above — 343 was established by Microsoft in 2007, and the new studio took over the keys to the franchise hot-rod after Bungie completed work on Halo: Reach.
To update the aging FPS, the studio employed what amounts to a “Pimp My Ride” approach, starting with a venerable chassis, giving it a beautiful new paint job, then welding things onto it. First on the docket was a complete reworking of the campaign; 343 provides HD-quality graphics, remastered audio, and a wealth of new textures and modern graphical effects. Thanks to technology provided by third-party developer Saber Interactive, players can switch seamlessly back and forth between the original and remastered visuals with a push of the Back button.
The first time I triggered this feature, I forgot to switch back to the new graphics for almost half an hour. Despite all the shiny chrome and candy-colored paint added by 343, the experience of playing Halo provided by HCEA is exactly the same. Even if you love Halo more than life itself, you might as well just save your money and play the original.