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
MSRP: $39.99

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.

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19 Comments on Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review

bias filefront

On November 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm

You give MW3, a game that is nothing more than an expansion pack for a 5 year old game, a higher score and then say this is “too expensive”? At least 343 had the decency to LOWER the price at all! especially for a game that arguably still has more original stuff in it than MW3.

Blade Runner

On November 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm

I could not agree more bias. He scores MW3 higher yet scores Halo CEAR lower. What gives?

Phil Owen

On November 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

You know not every critic here is the same guy, right?


On November 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm



On November 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

sounds unfortunate :(
i find it still worth it to buy… or at least torrent ;)


On November 14, 2011 at 6:51 pm

i thought the written review itself was pretty fair, stop ing about the final number at the bottom.


On November 14, 2011 at 10:37 pm

They seriously expect a company to remake a game and charge less than $40?
I was actually surprised when the game was announced to be less than the standard $60, The map pack alone is $10. So basically the game is $30 while the original new in stores is $20 and they actually think that’s overpriced? Lmao.


On November 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Hahaha, this guy is a joke. The fact that the campaign wasn’t changed is the best thing about this game, I would have been pissed if I couldn’t say every quote at the same time, one-shot hunters in the back, and get hidden banshees on AOTCR. If they changed ANYTHING about the core plot and level design it would have been upsetting.

As for multiplayer, anyone who has played Reach and is actually good at the game knows that the settings created by Bungie were awful, and the new gameplay settings in the anniversary playlists might actually make Reach’s multiplayer salvagable.

Awesome first release for 343 Industries, and it shows great promise for Halo 4 and keeping the classic halo experience alive.

Garyn Dakari

On November 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Uh…You know that having the gameplay and level design remain -exactly- the same was one of their main goals, right?

Besides, how else would you able to switch between modes with a button? You couldn’t if the levels had changed.


On November 16, 2011 at 7:59 am


Agreed. If they’d changed anything at all about the mechanincs or plot it would have been heresy and beyond. A graphic overhaul is all I ever wanted from Halo CE.


On November 16, 2011 at 9:55 am

I think he, the reviewer, has missed the point of the game. It is definitly a fresh face version of the original. It does however, let my son experience the game better than I could have ever imagined. The additional content more than makes it a deal or a valuable game experience. And, you seem to have forgotted…show a little respect… This is the Master Chief you are talking about…it’s more than a game,its a connection!!


On November 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm

clearly a casual review from a casual gamer
1. remaining the exact ce singleplayer (with updated graphics, new skulls and terminals that do not change the core singleplayer) was 343s intention. you would have known that with a bit of research
2. the changes made by 343 actually improve gameplay. they also stated that they will be emulating ce multiplayer with the reach engine multiple times which means they would not redo ce’s multiplayer simply because they have a contract to fulfill (time issue)
3. the price is actually pretty fair if you consider that MICROSOFT owns the franchise (although its still too high)
4. you were considering a REMAKE as an actual new game.


On November 17, 2011 at 4:39 am

seriously this guy gives this game too much credit!! halo reach and CE are seriously the worse multiplayer games i have ever played.. Why ruin a good thing? i was highly dissappointed

The truth

On November 17, 2011 at 11:26 am

This reviewer is wrong 343i said that the point of the game is to be retro gameplay with nice graphics.Get your facts straight before making a review


On November 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm


Why ruin a good thing? They didn’t ruin anything, they just changed a good thing into what some people would argue isn’t as good as some of the original Halo games. If you are resistant to change and having game developers actually use a little creativity and take risks in their gameplay design there is a very clear solution. Play CoD and pay $60 every year to buy the same exact game.

Maxwell Dwyer

On November 18, 2011 at 12:01 am

I think you missed the point of the game. The only reason they released and remastered this game was to make the best game of the series updated so it can be played without shame today.

Elite Troll

On November 21, 2011 at 2:22 am

I thoroughly enjoyed this little expansion or so as it were and I think they should update Halo 2 just so the whole of Halo is updated for achievments and the sort as well as graphic wise. I would be disgusted if they didn’t but anyways, the reviewer is a stupid ignorant person who obviously did not play much of the original or did not like it.

Dave Moss

On December 8, 2011 at 12:59 am

After reading the comments, i’m convinced you are all retarded fan boys. You really want to pay $40 dollars to replay the original Halo with SLIGHTLY better graphics? Are you serious? This game doesn’t even offer you the ability to play the original multiplayer for the nostalgia trip. Seriously, these cannot be the same people on Gamefront who trash the new Mass Effect because it has a multiplayer mode. You’re going to tell me that adding a multiplayer to ME is a waste of developer time, but creating this Halo remake monstrosity is a good idea when they should be devoting all their resources to making a brand new game that doesn’t suck? Either these comments were written by the 343 dev team or you’ve all been eating paint chips.

thaddeus lorenz

On March 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Halo annaversary was good exept two really big factors, they didnt keep the original music and why the would you change master chiefs helmet to the standard his armor was supose to be unque seriuosly why!?!