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Posts Tagged ‘halo: combat evolved anniversary’

HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED ANNIVERSARY

Developer: Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity, 343 Industries

Release: Novermber 2011

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure

Format: Xbox 360

I find myself in a very difficult position when it comes to reviewing HD Remakes. For the most part, remakes are a way for publishers to earn a quick buck; cashing in on previous successes. On the odd occasion, there is a genuine reason for a game to be revisited. For instance, Silicon Knights’ remake of Metal Gear Solid on the GameCube, or Capcom’s return to Resident Evil on the same console. These remakes did more than just touch up the graphics a notch, in some cases they rebuilt environments, changed the gameplay, and provided more backstory. These examples aren’t the only ones, but they serve a purpose to prove that some remakes are necessary. However, the real question is: is the remake of the first Halo necessary? Sure, it’s been ten years since this explosive sci-fi FPS stunned gamers across the globe, and yeah, the franchise has made more money than the Harry Potter series. But is Master Chief’s first steps on Halo really worth revisiting? Have 343 Industries et all made enough changes to the gameplay, or is it just a carbon copy with a makeover?

Having the chance to legitimately review the first Halo game is a dream come true; it remains one of my favourite games to this day. After playing an hour of Anniversary, it becomes apparent that the developers haven’t strayed from the original version at all. Besides from a few Kinect voice commands, and the ability to switch between Classic view and Remastered view, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is no different.

Legendary seems an appropriate word to describe the single-player campaign of Halo. From the moment your escape pod crashes onto the ancient ring world, Bungie managed to steal your breath away. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the plot, Halo tells the story of a genetically altered human called Master Chief. The soldier – or Spartan – along with a brilliantly intelligent A.I called Cortona, and a handful of human marines, must fight back against the Covenant, a zealous Alien species who want to wipe out humanity. Their galactic war finds the two enemies battling on an ancient alien construct called Halo, which the Covenant treat like a religious deity. However, even the cult-like aliens don’t know what the rings contain: a nasty space-zombie life form called the Flood that has the potential to wipe out all life in the universe. Suddenly, the fight for survival gets more severe, and it’s up to Master Chief to shoot, punch, and blow up anything that isn’t human.

The plot hasn’t changed, so obviously there are no surprises, but it remains strong and epic, even when compared to some recent releases, which says a lot about originality in the industry today compared to ten years ago (despite us talking about a remake).

343 Industries have remained completely faithful to the original in everything, from level layout, enemy A.I, and gameplay. This has its positives and negatives. In terms of the former, the gameplay remains simple, with no unnecessary power-ups, perks, and bizarre grenade types. The main negative however, is regarding the level design. The majority of Halo’s levels take place in luscious landscapes, sandy beaches to snowy mountains. However, there are still many moments where you must guide Master Chief through bleak hallways and rooms from one fire fight to another, and this can make the whole experience iterative and confusing. Getting lost in the main campaign is bound to happen, so be prepared to go back on yourself.

The inclusion of collectables in the form of Terminals, a la Halo 3, makes a welcome addition, extending the experience and giving you more reason to explore and see every corner of the newly decorated levels. Skulls return, which you can use to alter the gameplay, making things more challenging by reducing ammo and increasing enemy reaction time, or changing things up just for fun, like the confetti explosions every time you pop a grunt in the head (HOORAY!).

The inclusion of Kinect is a strange one, and it feels like it was literally an afterthought. You can use voice commands during single-player, shouting things like GRENADE and RELOAD, but it’s nothing more than a gimmick. There’s a great deal of lag behind it, so if you want to throw a well-timed frag, you’re best off tapping the left trigger, otherwise you’ll just get cut off mid-speech by enemy plasma fire. While speaking of lag, the game allows you to switch between Classic and Remastered view, but this doesn’t happen instantly, so I’d highly recommend you don’t do this in combat. However, it’s a great feature, and it’s cool to look at an iconic structure like the Control Room, and compare the two versions. The game actually runs both engines, the original and the new Saber3D, so it’s somewhat forgivable that it takes the game time to switch. You can’t switch during cut-scenes, but you can just before they start, allowing you to watch the classic versions or the new HD ones.

I’ve always believed that Halo is a co-op experience, come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever completed Halo by myself, despite playing it several times in the past ten years. It makes sense to have someone covering your back, especially when you consider the scale of the levels combined with the number of enemies. Now you can do this online, instead of just locally, which makes things more interesting; you can see how Joe Bloggs on Xbox Live plays Halo, compared to you and your closest friends.

The competitive multiplayer actually plays on the Halo: Reach engine, which makes sense, since Reach is the best multiplayer experience in the Halo franchise. There are a few new levels from the original and Halo 2, and a new Firefight mode, but because the levels have been recreated before in previous Halo titles, it seems a bit pointless. Still, it doesn’t take anything from the experience of teaming up with your mates and slaughtering the other teams at Capture the Flag or King of the Hill. Many purist of the original will be gutted to play Anniversary’s multiplayer with Reach’s rules, but at the end of the day, we all knew the multiplayer would be little more than a map pack for Bungie’s final Halo chapter.

Was it necessary to recreate Halo: Combat Evolved? The game literally did everything right ten years ago, taking everything from other successful shooters like GoldenEye and Doom. It’s great to play as Master Chief once again after all this time, and the pretty aesthetic will help those new to the franchise play, especially since they won’t have to suffer withdrawal from HD graphics. Anyone new to gaming will find this a rich experience, and fans of the franchise will of course appreciate the fan service. Seasoned gamers, who have never played Halo before may struggle, since FPS games have changed dramatically over the past decade, so this could be one they miss. As far as HD remakes go, it’s a cut above the rest. It’s not some cheap port; everything has been touched-up beautifully and with the upmost respect for fans and Bungie. If you want to get yourself warmed up for Halo 4, and you’re thinking of playing through the entire series again, then Anniversary is the stylish way to do so. What a nostalgia trip.

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