Halo was one of the original shooters released for the xbox at launch, and I feel it took off much greater than Microsoft had anticipated. Since then, we have seen 4 more titles in the series, all developed by Bungie, who received critical acclaim for each title that came out. 10 years on, and Bungie out of the game, what lies in store for the franchise? Well, everything starts with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition with 343 Industries behind the wheel. But how does it fair against the original and other titles in the series?
I’m going to start with the fact that I thought Halo was awesome first time round, especially for Lan parties at my local youth group and mates houses as they all had an xbox and a copy of Halo handy at pretty much all times. It was a while before I got my own copy and console, but it wasn’t too late. However, as we all know, the multiplayer included with Halo CEAE is based strongly on the Reach code and matchmaking, so the whole Lan aspect won’t be the same. But this is where it gets interesting. You can now have all the fun of Co-Op campaign with 3 mates over xbox live, opening up the possibilities of who and when you can play.
But let’s get onto the main part of the game, the legendary Campaign. The campaign from the original is exactly the same this time round. That is correct, they haven’t changed anything other than the look of the game. And even this has it’s upside as there is the ability to swap between graphics modes at the touch of a button, but more on that later. As I said, the story is the same, so you get to play through all the same missions, with all the same options as before but in HD. And let me tell you, the new HD look to the game is pretty awesome. The textures, colours and well, everything has been upgraded in such a way that it still holds the same breathtaking first play that the original had at the time. It’s an instant classic, again.
As i mentioned earlier, you can switch between the new and old graphics just by touching a button. This is in a specific mode however, so you don’t accidentally do it if you don’t wish. But let me tell you, it is so cool to see the difference throughout the game at different points. And the best part is, it is pretty much instantaneous. For example, you are playing through The Silent Cartographer in the new, sparkly HD graphics and you want to see what the change is like, so you press the back button. The screen will fade to black and seconds later fade back in with the original graphics on display. You can now continue to play until you wish to change them back, but say an enemy has snuck up on you and you are in combat just as you hit the button. Don’t worry, just start spraying bullets like you normally would, and as the graphics change, the combat continues. And where it only takes seconds, the graphics fade back in and you are still gunning them down. Good times. It is a good way to get the difference between the two versions. This is far more of a gimmick than anything else, but it is cool. And a great feature for the fans.
One of the best parts of the original game that they took out before was the Pistol. It was so powerful, and made the game that little bit more fun. Well, it is back with the exact power as before and let me tell you, it has been missed. And alongside this, they also announced another new feature. Halo CEAE will ship with the option of playing in full stereoscopic 3D. Now, this isn’t always a feature i would enjoy, recommend or even consider, but in this game, it is somewhat awesome. What they showed was the new HD look, with the 3D and it looked amazing. You get the extra depth to begin with, you also have the enemy fire flying past your face. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I have even considered upgrading to a 3D tele just for this title.
Multiplayer is a massive part of the Halo experience, and each game has added something new. Halo was the base, Halo 2 added online play, Halo 3 added further customisation, ODST added firefight and Reach added the most customisation yet. Well, with CEAE, you get all the benefits of Reach, but with all the best levels from the original game. Not only this, but the campaign has been unlocked to live as well, and you can go through destroying the covenant with 3 mates from around the world. This is the most exciting part as it now means I don’t have to arrange to meet up with all my school mates, who I’ve played through the original game loads of times just to go back to our roots, we can just do it over Live. For me, this is the best new feature of the game.
Overall, I was incredibly impressed with this title, even though it is just a remake of the original game. They have added just the right amount of stuff to make it worth the money, but left stuff alone enough to make it nostalgic for all fans. The best part of this is, kids that haven’t played the original because they joined in with the 360 generation will get to experience the awesomeness that is Halo, and will hopefully understand why people rave about it. Are you planning on getting this title? Or are you not a fan of remakes? Leave a comment below and let us know.