Halo: Anniversary Edition: Sprucing up an FPS classic

December 3, 2011

It has been just ten short years since Halo: Combat Evolved singlehandedly put the original Xbox on the map for many gamers, and to celebrate, Microsoft and 343 Industries have released a remade version of the Halo that started it all. Shooter mechanics have advanced a lot in the past ten years though, so how does Halo: CE hold up? Unsurprisingly, it’s a mixed bag.

There’s no reason to go into the premise in detail. Suffice it to say, you are the Master Chief, a genetically and chemically altered human called a SPARTAN. After warping away from a lost battle, you discover a ring world called a Halo, crash land there, and kill a bunch of Covenant troops, aliens who want to destroy all of humanity for religious purposes.

The most obvious change is the graphics, and the differences are very striking. Rather than simply remaster the original graphics, 343 Industries completely replaced the all the textures with new ones using the Halo: Reach engine. A neat touch is the ability to switch between the old and new graphics at any time by hitting the back button.

The controls and mechanics have not been changed at all, so the aiming feels a little more forgiving than the newer titles, with a slight aim correction that apparently can’t be turned off. Additionally, the driving is completely awkward now because all vehicles only drive straight. In order to turn, you have to move the camera.

In Anniversary, online co-op and online multiplayer have been added, bringing the original Halo gameplay to Xbox Live for the first time. Unfortunately, the co-op is limited to two players, and it is fairly laggy for the non-hosting player. The multiplayer brings back six of the original maps, and builds off of the Halo: Reach multiplayer in many ways. In fact, it pretty much is Reach’s multiplayer in every way, except that it has a different set of playlists, and thus is separated from the general population. Even though the maps are from classic Halo, even they aren’t exclusive to Halo: Anniversary’s multiplayer, as it comes with a code to download all of the classic maps for use in Reach’s multiplayer mode.

Overall, this is a valiant attempt at updating a classic, and 343 Industries did a great job with it, but it just doesn’t hold up to the standards set by the newest titles in the series.

Pros: Integrates with Reach multiplayer, new graphics are a remarkable improvement
Cons: awkward vehicle controls, lag in co-op, co-op is limited to two players

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.