It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since the XBOX was first released and of course, with Halo: Combat Evolved alongside it.
Halo was undoubtedly the XBOX Killer app during the launch period and probably helped to ship a lot of them and it’s likely without Halo the XBOX launch could have likely tanked – so here we are 10 years later with an anniversary edition of the game.
Essentially the game is as it was, with the quite obvious major difference being the graphics overhaul. They are certainly pleasing to the eye, however the best/most unique feature is that by simply pressing the back button (except during cutscenes) you can switch between classic and modern graphics. This is achieved by the game running both graphics engines alongside each other with no noticeable hit on performance.
The campaign is exactly the same as it was, with levels such as Silent Cartographer really shining with the graphical upgrade. Multiplayer however is where you start to hit the “problems”. Selecting multiplayer on the main menu, basically punches you out to the Halo Reach engine with only the anniversary maps (apparently, if you have the Games on Demand version of Reach, this option in the menu actually takes you right into Halo Reach, so you’d have all the reach maps and anniversary maps. If you have retail reach, there’s a code in the Anniversary box which allows you to get the anniversary maps in Reach.)
Multiplayer is the big missed opportunity as the only thing people wanted was actual Halo multiplayer running over Live and while Reach Multiplayer is great, it’s no Halo and it’s just not the same.
The soundtrack has also been re-recorded so it’s now in 5.1 Surround Sound and sounds brilliant. Again, like with the graphics, you can switch between the two soundtracks from the menu.
At the time of writing this review, the Kinect features we’re not available for use, so i’m not able to comment on them. I’ll probably update this once i’ve tried them out.
All in all, aside from the missed opportunity with the multiplayer, this is how a HD Remaster should be done. It preserves the original whilst modernising it. It’s easy to see the love and care that went into this and it’s certainly not been done as a quick cash in. An essential for any Halo fan, regardless of if you still have your backwards compatible copy of the original around.