Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Review

Halo is a series I always seem to come back to. I bought the original game back in 2003 shortly after I purchased an Xbox. At the time I only had one controller, and my impressions of the game were less than stellar. Once I had additional controllers and got to play both co-op campaign and multiplayer with the friends, we all fell in love with it.  I followed the series ever since, and have purchased every title on the day it launched. However, ever since Bungue split from Microsoft to do their own thing, and the rights to Halo went to 343 studios, I’ve been sort of nervous. There first Halo title is actual a re-release of the original title for the Xbox 360 with updated graphics. I am usually pretty wary of remakes made by different studios, especially since the fiasco with Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. They took a totally awesome game with the idea to add updated graphics. Seems like a pretty awesome no-brainer. The problem is when you get a completely new team working on a game they didn’t make with their own ideas on how it should have been made, and they start changing things. Twin Snakes didn’t even feel like Metal Gear Solid anymore.

Thankfully, 343 studios did not botch the job. They created a remake of Halo that feels exactly like the original. They didn’t move anything, they didn’t modify anything, they even took all the original voice acting and cinematics. The only thing they did, was update the graphics. It really feels like the original game and physics, with the Halo: Reach engine.

The game actually released last Fall, but between Skyrim, Zelda: Skyward Sword, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and SWTOR, it just never got any time at all. Over the last several weekends, Ken and I have been running through co-op campaign on Legendary to unlock some achievements. We must have played through it dozens of times on the original over the years. It really does feel like the old game did, and I find myself still enjoying it. Not as much as I did a yeas ago, but it is still fun. The controls are noticeably dated and do not really match up to today’s Call of Duty. I was never that into Call of Duty, hell I only rented the original Modern Warfare for achievements, and bought 2 and 3 to play online with Ken, Jeff, Aaron, and Matt. However you can’t argue how smooth and fluid the controls are. Playing any of the Halo games, including Reach, after playing Call of Duty makes you realize just how clunky they are. Be that as it may, my preference has always been for Halo.

The newest title, Halo 4 will be releasing next month. It will be Master Chiefs first return since Halo 3, and that alone has me at least somewhat excited. However, this is also 343 Studios first new game. I’ve heard from Ken that the new books and story released by 343 Studios seems to retcon quite a few of the most fundamental story elements, such as the fact that Forerunner were ancient Humans. That alone has made me unhappy with the new direction the series is taking. It isn’t enough to make me not play Halo 4 though, and I pre-ordered the collector’s edition almost a year in advance on Amazon. At this point my primary hopes are that the new story directions aren’t as bad as Ken has led me to believe, and that the game controls are brought up to par with other current first-person shooter games. If they can manage that, I’m sure I will still find plenty of enjoyment in the series that has held my attention for almost a decade.